Using Bruce Tuckman's Phases of Team Development to Help Your Team Grow and Advance: 2021 Update



Scott-M-Graffius---Phases-of-Team-Development-2021-Update---LR-for-Blog
How to cite: Graffius, Scott M. (2021). Phases of Team Development. Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.13140/RG.2.2.22040.42246.

2021 Update

Teams go through phases of development, and Bruce Tuckman established a popular framework on the subject. According to Tuckman, all phases—Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning—are necessary for teams to grow, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results. Scott M. Graffius developed a related custom illustration, Phases of Team Development, which he revises periodically. He released an updated version of the visual on January 4, 2021. This article features the new version of the Phases of Team Development illustration (shown above) along with a brief overview of the characteristics and strategies for each phase.

Five Phases of Team Development

1. Forming

Characteristics of Forming include displaying eagerness, socializing, generally polite tone, sticking to safe topics, being unclear about how one fits in, and some anxiety and questioning. Strategies for this phase include taking the ‘lead,’ being highly visible, facilitating introductions, providing the ‘big picture,’ establishing clear expectations, communicating success criteria, and ensuring that response times are quick.

2. Storming

Traits of Storming include resistance, lack of participation, conflict related to differences of feelings and opinions, competition, high emotions, and starting to move towards group norms. Strategies for this phase include requesting and encouraging feedback, identifying issues and facilitating their resolution, normalizing matters, and building trust by honoring commitments.

3. Norming

Features of Norming include an improved sense of purpose and understanding of goals, higher confidence, improved commitment, team members are engaged and supportive, relief—lowered anxiety, and starting to develop cohesion. Strategies for this phase include recognizing individual and team efforts, proving opportunities for learning and feedback, and monitoring the ‘energy’ of the team.

4. Performing

Characteristics of Performing include higher motivation, elevated trust and empathy, individuals typically deferring to the team's needs, effective production, consistent performance, and demonstrations of interdependence and self-management (also referred to as self-organization). Strategies for this phase include ‘guiding from the side’ (minimal intervention), celebrating successes, and encouraging collective decision-making and problem-solving.

5. Adjourning

Typical traits of Adjourning (also referred to as Transitioning or Mourning) include a shift to process orientation, sadness, recognition of team and individual efforts, and disbanding. Strategies for this phase include recognizing change, providing an opportunity for summative team evaluations (which may go by
lessons learned, post-project review, retrospective, or another label), providing an opportunity for individual acknowledgments, and celebrating the team's accomplishments—which may involve a party and possibly an after-party.

The illustration summarizes the above information—and it shows how performance fluctuates as teams move through each phase. This information may be helpful for looking at your team.

Downloadable High-Resolution Versions of 'Phases of Team Development' Illustration

High resolution versions of the updated Phases of Team Development image are available at the following links:
here for the JPG file and here for the PNG file. For permission requests, contact the email address noted in the image.

About Scott M. Graffius



Scott M. Graffius, PMP, CSP-SM, CSP-PO, CSM, CSPO, ITIL, LSSGB is an agile project management practitioner, consultant, award-winning author (Agile Scrum and Agile Transformation), and international speaker. Content from his books, speaking engagements, and more has been featured and used by media outlets, publications, businesses, governments, and universities including Yahoo Finance, Computer Weekly, Innovation Project Management, MobileAppDaily, Gartner, Oracle, Cisco, RSA, Ford, Liberty Mutual Group, Qantas, Atlassian, Bayer, Bosch, the National Academy of Sciences, the United States Department of Energy, the United States Army, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Tufts University, James Madison University, Santa Clara University, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, and others. Thinkers360 named Scott a global top thought leader and influencer in three domains: Agile, Digital Transformation, and GovTech. His full-length bio is available here.


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