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Team Building and Tuckman Model

Team Building and Tuckman Model

Team building is at the heart of every successful business. If teams are managed well, the organization can make tremendous progress in a short time. On the other hand, if the team is managed in an ineffective manner, the desired results would not be achieved. Probably the most famous team work theory is Bruce Tuckman “Team stages model”.

First developed in 1945, Tuckman’s model is widely known as a basis for effective team building. Yet how many people really know how to use it?Below we explain Tuckman’s model and offer some insights on how to take it further. Tuckman’s framework theory is best illustrated on a graph which shows the link between group relationships (the horizontal axis) and task focus (the vertical axis) the optimal or “performing” position is reached when relationships have developed within the group and it has started delivering with a clear focus on the task.




However, Tuckman’s ideas clearly indicated that it takes time to reach the performing stage and it’s normal for these teams to go through ups and downs as they develop relationships. Particularly in the early period, which is perhaps why Tuckman called it the “storming phase”.



The initial stage of team development during which individual have not yet gelled together. Everybody is busy finding their place in the team, sizing each other up and asking themselves why they are here.



People begin to see themselves as part a team however at this stage they may challenge each other, and the team leader, about such things as what the team is doing, and how things should be done. As the stage title suggests conflict and confrontation mark this stage. This may result in same loss of performance or focus on the task as the diagram illustrates.



This is the phase where team members start to come together, developing processes, establishing ground rules, clarifying who does what, and how things will be done, this phase is characterized by a growing sense of “togetherness”.



This the final stage where increased focus on the task and on team relationships combine to provide synergy, performance is delivered through people working effectively together.

 The value of Tuckman’s model is that it helps us understand how the team evolves. It also helps us to consider how they may encounter different problems at the different stages of their development.

One limitation of the model may be that it makes team building appear too linear and sequential. Although its useful analytical tool, we must remember that some teams may “loop” around in their development.

Not all teams evolve smoothly through the stages but move to and fro between norming and storming until they either begin to function or are disbanded. Regardless of limitation, as well – conceived models can be useful in helping us to understand and better manage our circumstances.


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