Stages of Team Development – Striving for High Performing Teams

Today I would I like to share with you the stages of development that every team you interact with goes through.  It is important to be aware of this so that you can recognize the stages.

The stages are

    • Forming

    • Storming

    • Norming

    • Performing

    • Adjourning


In 1965, Bruce Tuckman published a development model for teams.  He found that every team went through the four stages.    Each team needs to go thru the 4 stages to be able to work together and fully develop as a team.   The four stages are Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.  More recently he has added a fifth stage called Adjourning.

Forming Stage

During the forming stage the team member’s first objective to fit into the new team.  In this stage there will be little to no conflict.  The tone of the team will be positive.  No one at this stage will want to offend others on the team.  Two of the areas of focus at this stage will be to understand the goals of the team and to ensure that each person on the team will work to understand their role within the team. 

The leader of the team will be focusing on Directing the team at this stage.

Storming Stage

During this stage there will begin to be conflict.  Some of the “silent” team members will begin to express their concerns or opinions.   There is normally some resistance from some of the team about how to approach the work on the project.  There may also begin to be discussion about the quality of the project if the project is a timeline based effort.  The team is starting to begin to understand the other team member roles and how to work with one another.

The leader of the team will still be focusing on Directing the team as well as some Coaching.

Norming Stage

In the norming stage the team is beginning to work together.   You may encounter some bouncing back to the Storming stage on a particular issue.    The team will now offer constructive criticism during this phase with the focus on improving the team.   The majority of the energy of the team is on doing project work.

The leader of the team will begin to do some Delegating as well as more Coaching.

Performing Stage

The team is now performing well.  Additional work can be added to the project team with little or no issues from the team.  The team seldom falls back to the Storming stage.   The team is now promoting the work of the team to others outside of the team.  The team is now functioning for the majority of the time on its own.   During this stage you will notice the volume of work has increased significantly.

The leader of the team will now spend the majority of the time in Delegating mode.

Adjourning Stage

During this stage some of the team (or all of the team) will move on to other efforts.  There will be some reluctance of the team to move on.  The relationships gained by the team members will continue for long term once the team is disbanded.

The leader of the team will now be assigned to another team to re-do the stages on the new team.

Related Article – Characteristics of High-Performing Teams –


I have found it very interesting to work with many people and teams over the years.  In my experience it is important to try to get to the Performing stage as quickly as possible.  One of the keys to that is the role that you play as the project manager of the team.  You will need to be flexible and adjust your style of leadership during each stage of the project.  I have reference another blog entry to help you with the changing of leadership styles.

I also recorded a video on this topic on my YouTube channel.