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

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Citation: Graffius, Scott M. (2021). Phases of Team Development. Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.13140/RG.2.2.22040.42246. DOI link: https://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.22040.42246.

For permission requests, see below.


🔥 Update: There are now two versions of the Phases of Team Development visual. This article covers the English version. The Spanish translation — Fases del Desarrollo del Equipo — was subsequently released and is available here.

2021 Update


Teams (agile or otherwise) go through phases of development, and Dr. Bruce Tuckman established a popular and durable framework on the subject. According to Dr. Tuckman, all phases—Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning—are necessary for teams to grow, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results.

Agile project management thought leader, influencer, and author Scott M. Graffius developed a related custom illustration, Phases of Team Development. It highlights the performance level, characteristics, and proven strategies for each of the phases. Project Managers, Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, DevOps Leads, and other professional can apply the information to help handle challenges or issues experienced by teams. By doing so, they’ll advance the teams' happiness and productivity, as well as the teams' (and their own) success. Graffius updates the content 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. Read on for details including information on permission requests and downloadable high-resolution versions of the visual.

Five Phases of Team Development

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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.

Bibliography

Select list of publications

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  • Graffius, Scott M. (2021). Phases of Team Development. Los Angeles, CA: Scott M. Graffius. Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.13140/RG.2.2.22040.42246. 
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  • Rowley, D., & Lange, M. (2007). Forming to Performing: The Evolution of an Agile Team. IEEE Computer Society Proceedings. Agile 2007, 1: 408-414.
  • Scrum Alliance (2020). Learning Objectives Examples. Denver, CO: Scrum Alliance.
  • Sakpal, M. (2020, March 3. Learn How to Debunk These Five Restructuring Myths. Stamford, CT: Gartner, Inc.
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  • Telford, R. (2013, June 4). This is Where It Gets Interesting. Armonk, NY: International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation.
  • Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental Sequence in Small Groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63: 384-399.
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About Scott M. Graffius


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Scott M. Graffius, PMP, CSP-SM, CSP-PO, CSM, CSPO, SFE, LSSGB, ITIL | High resolution photo available here



Scott M. Graffius, PMP, CSP-SM, CSP-PO, CSM, CSPO, SFE, ITIL, LSSGB is an agile project management practitioner, consultant, award-winning author, and international speaker. He has generated over one billion dollars of business value in aggregate for the organizations he has served. Graffius is the founder, CEO, and principal consultant at Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ and subsidiary Exceptional Agility™, based in Los Angeles, California. His expertise spans project, program, portfolio, and PMO leadership inclusive of agile, traditional, and hybrid approaches. Content from his books, workshops, speaking engagements, and more have been featured and used by businesses, governments, and universities including Gartner, Microsoft, Deloitte, Oracle, Cisco, Ford, Qantas, Atlassian, Bayer, the National Academy of Sciences, the United States Department of Energy, the United States Army, Project Management Institute, the IEEE, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Tufts University, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Warsaw University of Technology, University of Waterloo, Loughborough University London, and others. Graffius has spoken at 58 conferences and other events around the world, including Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States. Thinkers360 named Graffius a global top thought leader and influencer in four domains: Agile, Change Management, Digital Transformation, and GovTech.

His full bio is available at
https://www.scottgraffius.com.

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© Copyright 2021 Scott M. Graffius. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written permission of Scott M. Graffius.





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