How to Implement Tuckman's stages of group development Into Your Company

According to a studyconducted by Harvard Business Review, among 55 large companies like BBC and Marriott, the most productive teams value collaboration.

There are 3 teams. One forming for the first time, second adding new members and the third realigning due to some strategic changes. All the three teams are entering a new phase of working. Even the subtle changes cause the group to enter a phase where adjustments are required. Hence, team development takes place- the only question about this is whether the leaders and managers are intentional about the development.

In today's Agile World, navigating through team development is similar to Bruce Tuckerman's Team Development model that was created in 1965. The idea is that team development should be self-organized and self-sustaining. But transforming the educated, talented and knowledgeable individuals into an integral part of the team is always a challenging process. Moreover, in today’s challenging and competitive environment, it becomes even more difficult to create and coach a collaborative and trust-worthy team. No doubt with collaborative SaaS Softwares like Monday.com and Paymo, it becomes easy for the Agile Managers to create a collaborative environment, but one thing that we have understood in the last 2 years of Covid, is that one-on-one interaction and developing the personal understanding among the team members is of same importance.

It all starts with leveraging the behavioral psychology discovered by Bruce Tuckerman in 1965. The model recognizes that the teams don't form spontaneously but are developed through clearly defined stages, eventually transitioning from different talented individuals to a singular ambition of dynamic collaborators.

What is Tuckerman's Model of Team Development?

Bruce Tuckerman recognized that irrespective of the company or the industry, all teams undergo a similar four-step pattern to form a group. It describes the stages through which a group or a team matures to gain the objective with minimal discrepancies and better team functioning. The four steps included:

Forming

During the beginning stages, the team is at the starting level. Each team member puts their best foot forward. The members are either onboarded for a new project or the new phase of the existing project. According to a study conducted by West Chester University,the key traits of members in the Forming Stage are Politeness, Tentative Joining and avoiding controversy. During this stage, the members depend on the leader for guidance. The aims and objectives are led forward by them, and they open the floor for discussions about the team's mission while addressing the ground rules for the team's functioning.

Follow the following steps to implement this step the right way:

  • Clarity Building: As the team forms, it is essential to lay the foundation stone for building a clear relationship. A relationship where the members know what is expected of them. For this, the leaders or managers can take an introductory session while introducing the company; they can explain their roles and aims to the members.
  • Build Rapport and Relationship: Building rapport is essential to form an effective team. To build a connection with an optimistic relationship, leaders can make up an ice-breaking session for the members and lay the foundation seeds of trust for better team connectivity,

Storming

This is the stage where the members open up and express their ideas and opinions. Differences and conflicts often come during this phase. Moreover, as the team grows, they start learning the best way ahead to achieve the desired goals and objectives for the greater good- the key to resolving the issues fast and not letting the arguments go out of control.

Do the following to assist your team move ahead in the storming phase:

  • Create a Safe Space: Creating a safe space for the members is essential for them to be the best at whatever they do. Leaders can create a space where individuals can share their ideas and thoughts. Moreover, one can also create an ideal wall where members can come and write their thoughts and ideas for people to read and discuss, thus creating a great way to express oneself.
  • Encouraging Communication: During this phase, conflicts come quickly, and it is essential to establish a relationship of trust among the members. To implement the same, leaders can hold group sharing circles to resolve a dispute or share and communicate feelings during a fight.

Norming Stage

In the Norming Stage, the team members start collaborating and work through the difficulties and differences to reach the right solution. They begin to understand the roles and responsibilities of how each person works the best and how they can support one another.
Moving through the norming stage:

  • Constructive Criticism: Feedbacks are an essential way to work through conflicts and create solutions that support the greater good. Leaders can organize one-on-one feedback sessions with members to help them effectively work through their ideas and disputes.
  • Appreciate Members: It is essential to provide feedback, but it is also important to let the members know that the leaders acknowledge their presence. Managers or leaders can do an Appreciation Exercise where members appreciate each other with true meaning. Moreover, this also helps to build relationships.
  • Performing Stage

    When it arrives at this stage, the team starts performing together as a unit, and the entire team comes up with group dynamics that work for all. The team now gets down to taking on responsibilities and making decisions that affect the outcome.

    Do this to keep your team's performing spirit alive:

    • Proactivity and Autonomy:A huge part of moving from this stage to the next step involves empowering the members to let them do what calls for them. It is more than just better to let the members do what they are best at as they would want to go out of the box and enjoy their work life.
    • Finding Solutions: The most crucial part while transitioning stages is understanding the meaning of solving issues correctly. If the members understand how to solve problems, it will benefit everyone to live in peace. To instill the ideology, leaders can do the activity of 15% solutions with the team, where the team focuses on 15 percent of the problem first and solve that problem and then figure the rest out gradually.

    Twelve years later, in collaboration with Mary Ann Jensen, he explored the theory in detail and came up with another level for the model, called the adjourning stage.

    Adjourning Stage

    In this final stage, the team members present their results to the managers and the stakeholders for review or approval. Over here, the team must discuss what went well and what could have been done better to improve the performance. As the work reduces, the team leaders or the managers can take some team members off the team and delegate some of the tasks to other groups.

    Do the following steps to facilitate the transition to this stage:

    • Reflect and Learn: Adjourning stage is the result, where members look behind and self-introspect their mistakes or shortcomings. Reflecting would help the team realize and appreciate the quirks and mistakes and learn from them not to make such mistakes again. Leaders can organize a reflective session one-on-one with the members for this.
    • Celebrate: Achieving even the most minor goal is a celebratory moment for the team. It is important to rectify the mistake, but it is also essential to celebrate the team wins together to encourage team bonding for further projects.

    Theoretically, achieving these stages and coming up with the result sounds straightforward. But, practically, achieving these becomes quite challenging. Managers and leaders must take some active steps to ensure that Tuckerman's theory is applied in the teams. The various activities explained above would be a beneficial way to start. Moreover, one can be creative and create exercises for better transitioning from one phase to another. However, if done correctly, this theory brings wonders to a team development process and makes achieving goals 100 times easier for a group of members.


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