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Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning

Posted Nov 04 2010 6:10am

One of the great thrills of project management is to effectively develop a performing teams. One doesn't get a group of people together at the onset and have an effective performing team. Developing the project team will take a bit of time and perseverance for the team has to travel the road from being strangers to teammates working towards a common outcome. Let's review the stages a team needs to undergo to grow into a productive performing team.

Way back in 1965, Bruce Tuckman originated the phrase "forming, storming, norming, and performing", about 10 years later he added a final stage called adjourning.

Initially teams go through a forming stage in which they are socially courteous to each other but are really trying to find their role and what the team will accomplish. Commonly at the kick off meeting the group is introduced. Roles, Purpose and Rules of Engagement are reviewed for understanding.

Quickly thereafter, the team moves into the storming phase. Individuals are trying to find their way and bring clarification to their roles. Authority figures are challenged, the pace of the project is set, and one can begin to see the star performers shining and those who need a bit of encouragement taking shape. It is good to start to clarify that differences are welcomed. Perhaps having a couple of team exercises in myers-briggs or true colors evaluation along with conflict resolution techniques to have positive conflict. It is also good to give the team an opportunity to talk through issues or discussion points. The goal is to get the team trusting and comfortable with each other at the end of this phase.

As things quiet down, the team will move into the norming phase, Team mates understand the goal at hand and are driving towards the achievement of that goal. They also are now joking a bit with each other perhaps even engaging as the best solution is derived.

Now it is time to facilitate the team's onset of performing phase, a team all working hard towards a common outcome is a powerful force. Your culture of achieving outcomes has been set and overcoming obstacles has been setup. Issues don't linger but they are quickly resolved. Risks are identified and handled. The outcome is achieved.

Afterwards it is time to disband the project team, after all projects have a beginning and an end. This phase is commonly referred to as adjourning. It is important here to celebrate the accomplishments, reward performance and commend all for their help and hard work.


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