The Five Development Stages of Groups

Learning Objectives

Identify the five development stages of groups.

American organizational psychologist Bruce Tuckman presented a robust model in 1965 that is still widely used today. Based on his observations of group behavior in a variety of settings, he proposed a four-stage map of group evolution, also known as the forming-storming-norming-performing model. Later he enhanced the model by adding a fifth and final stage, the adjourning phase.

circular diagram of Tuckman’s Linear Model of group development. Shows five stages: Forming, stroming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

The Stages of the Tuckman Model.


The forming stage, when everyone is getting to know each other and are trying to make a good impression, is a good time to create a set of shared expectations, guidelines, or a Team Charter. A team forming activity is also a good idea to help build trust and get to know the various strengths and weaknesses of the team members. This is an orientation stage, on both an interpersonal and professional level, where preliminary boundaries and expectations are established.


The storming stage is the one most often characterized by group conflict and dysfunction. It is often where the preliminary expectations and boundaries are challenged as individuals learn more about each other’s motivations. This coincides with the “brainstorming” stage of the design process, in which each member contributes ideas that could potentially become the focus of the project. It is also the stage where team mates learn about each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and try to determine what their roles will be in the project.  Learning to harness the constructive potential of conflict and compromise in this stage is important to progressing to the next stage.


During the norming stage, if conflicts have been resolved and team mates have proved flexible, all is going well, each team member knows their role and works on their part of the project. Sometimes, people work independently in this stage, but check in with team mates frequently to make sure work flow is efficient and effective. Group cohesion ensures that everyone is responsible to the task and to each other.  Problems might arise at this stage if teammates do not fully understand their role, the team expectations, or the overall goal; revisiting the forming or storming stage may be required.


For first-time teams, the performing stage may take some time to achieve. This stages happens when teams have established a synergy and have developed systems that that make projects go smoothly and efficiently. When teams have worked together well on several projects, less time is needed to form, storm and learn to norm; performing teams can move quickly and interdependently to tackling the task at hand.


The final stage that Tuckman added in 1977 in a paper co-authored with Mary Ann Jensen, describes the process by which a group disbands.[1]

Forming: 4 arrows pointing to the centre. Storming, 4 arrows going in various random directions. Norming: 4 arrows going in almost the same direction. Performing: 4 arrows perfectly aligned. Adjourning: 4 arrows pointing outward from the centre in the 4 cardinal directions.

Trajectory of team mates during each stage of the Tuckman team formation model.

Practice Question

  1. Tuckman, Bruce W., and Mary Ann C. Jensen. “Stages of Small-Group Development Revisited.” Group & Organization Studies, vol. 2, no. 4, Dec. 1977, pp. 419–427, doi:10.1177/105960117700200404.