Stages of Team Development – Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing

In the world of business team building and team development has become one of the foundational vehicles of success. However, team effectiveness is enhanced by a team’s commitment to reflection and on-going evaluation. This means that there must be an evaluation of accomplishments in terms of meeting specific goals, working well together and producing higher skilled leaders for continued innovation. For teams to be high-performing in this manner it is essential for them to understand team development as an organic corporate lifestyle.

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Understanding team development, and the different lifecycles, is important for any corporation, whether you put together your own team building program, or enlist a team and corporate consultant. The most commonly used framework for a team’s stages of development was developed in the mid-1960s by Bruce W. Tuckman, now a psychology professor at Ohio State University. Initially, there are five concepts to this philosophy. However, many corporations are only concerned with four of them while they do a “rinse and repeat” action.

Team Development Starts with Forming

Tuckman brought forth the idea that team development begins with actually forming teams. While this may sound elementary it is a crucial first step. The forming stage of any team is important because this is where the members of the team get to know one another, exchange some personal information, and make new friends.

There is something to be said about team chemistry. Many times corporations leave this beginning step to chance. They base teams on departments, offices, and the way that desks are arranged. However, that is not necessarily the best way. The forming stage should take some time before you finalize members. A few, simple team building games can help solidify final team members.

Team Development Continues with Storming

This stage in the lifecycle of team development is much like that of storming a beachhead in times of war. In the storming stage the team now addresses issues head-on such as what problems they are really supposed to solve, how they will function independently and together, and what leadership model they will accept.

There is a tendency after the forming stage for teams to be left a little dazed and confused when problems arise. In many cases they revert back to their “old” thinking and trying to force issues and rely on individual performances. The storming stage does not allow for any of this confusion to set in. This is where team members open up to each other and confront each other’s ideas and perspectives. However, it is also left up to strong leadership to move the team through this storming.


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Norming Becomes the Norm

As teams begin to be familiar with each other they can now start to set goals and make plans for how they work together and what needs to be accomplished. There is no longer any type of leadership issues or questions about how to combat problems or be involved in the overall work process.

Performing at High Levels

The final outcome of any team development is a high level of performance. Tuckman puts forth that this is the stage in development where, “Commitment to the team’s mission is high and the competence of team members is also high.”

Performing at high levels is achieved through the evaluations the team goes through, but also the team exercises and problem solving games they “practice” with. As new skills are learned and skills known are improved levels of performance are escalated to high levels.

Goals, plans, innovation, accomplishments and pride are all hallmarks of this stage in team development. They should be celebrated and recognized.

Team Development Does Not Stop

Any corporation that takes on team building and the team concept should realize that team development is ongoing. After you have reached this fourth stage a “rinse and repeat” action is necessary. Continued commitment to your personnel can only mean continued success in your business sector and their personal lives.