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5 Stages of Tuckman’s Group Development Model

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Executive Team Building (38-slide PowerPoint presentation). Is your company being led by a group or a team? There is a big difference in top and bottom line performance between the two. More often than not, the teaming ability at the top of the organization is the determinant of success or failure as opposed to the technology, product, or idea on which [read more]

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Studies on Team Motivation and Building Effective Teams stem from the research carried out in Psychology and Sociology.  Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), the Founder of Modern Psychology, is credited with conducting the 1st research on the subject.

The Social Psychologist Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) is credited with introducing the term “Group Dynamics.” The term defined the constructive and destructive forces within Groups of people.  Lewin pioneered the Group Dynamics Research Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, first of its kind dedicated to the study of Group Dynamics and how it could be applied to real-world and social issues.

The latter half of the 20th century saw attention shifted more towards studying how Group Performance could be improved in the workplace to foster an Organizational Culture of cohesiveness, and Tuckman’s study proved significant in this regard.

Bruce Tuckman’s Model on Group Development became one of the most influential studies on the subject.  Originally conducted in 1965, the Model was further improved by Tuckman and his colleague in 1977.

Tuckman’s assertion was that each of the phases of the model is indispensable and unavoidable for the team to grow, face up to challenges, tackle problems, find solutions, plan strategically, and deliver results.  Tuckman’s model has become the foundation for following models and commonly used by management consultants for Team Management and Client Management.  For the model to be applicable in the work place, it is vital to comprehend the process at each stage and its concepts.

Tuckman’s Group Development Model comprises the following 5 stages:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing
  5. Adjourning

The 5th stage of Group Development called “Adjourning” was added in 1977, by Tuckman and his colleague Mary Ann Jensen.

Let us examine some of the stages of Tuckman’s model for Group Development in a little more detail.


The key dynamic of the first stage is Orientation.  This is the stage where people are brought together in a Group.  How quickly the group’s transition to the 2nd stage takes place depends on the clarity and complexity of the goal and members’ previous experience of working in groups.  Some of the key characteristics of this stage include:

  • An upbeat outlook of group members about what is to be accomplished.
  • Anxiousness on part of members about what the other team members will be like.

Managers of the group at this stage have to be directly and intimately involved.  Clear guidelines and structure by the manager are necessary to ensure that the team builds strong relationships. 


The key dynamic of this stage is Power Struggle.  At this 2nd stage team members feel more at ease voicing and questioning opinions, and that is when internal conflict flares up.  Channeling this conflict in a positive direction will make for a cohesive team.  Some of the key characteristics of this stage are:

  • Perception formation about other team members’ abilities.
  • Alliance formation among team members and discussions regarding the goal and the approach to achieve it.

The group leader has to show a Problem Solving Mindset at this stage, swiftly channel conflict between teams in order to avoid demoralization.  Among many other actions at this stage, the leader also has to guide the team in decision-making and proffering explanations on how decisions transpired.


The key dynamic of the 3rd stage of team development is Cooperation.  The members concentrate on settling differences to make way for clear definition of organizational mission and objectives.  Manager’s role within the team transforms from that of leader to that of a team member.

Interested in learning more about Tuckman’s 5-Stage Group Development Model?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Group Development here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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