Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing: How Teams Grow

One needs determination, research, and to rely on those who have come before him along with his or her natural talent in order to become a truly great leader and turn “workable” teams into extraordinary teams. In truth, highly complex systems, such as groups, can have components that cannot be explained by looking at the properties of say, the individual. In order to get a true understanding of group dynamics, it is important that one focuses on the big picture. Here’s the thing, the line between certain stages can get blurred since team members evolve at different times. How they trust each other to remain accountable for their tasks without dropping the ball. This way, they’ll remain high-performing while re-establishing trusted connections.

4 stages of group formation

This is where it’s important to level with individual contributors and truly get to know what’s going on. This is a great time to reflect on what makes a high-performing team able to accomplish tasks and move through obstacles. The key to moving through this stage is to make things as simple as possible. Hopefully, your team’s purpose or desired outcome is understood by this point. Now it’s time to make sure everyone understands the incremental milestones on the way to your goal, and what their role is in helping the team get there. Clarity as to what success looks like at each milestone will give your team a much-needed confidence boost.

Stage 3: Norming

Team Tasks during the Storming stage of development call for the team to refocus on its goals, perhaps breaking larger goals down into smaller, achievable steps. The team may need to develop both task-related skills and group process and conflict management skills. A redefinition of the team’s goals, roles and tasks can help team members past the frustration or confusion they experience during the Storming stage. The team meets and learns about the opportunities and challenges, and then agrees on goals and begins to tackle the tasks. They may be motivated but are usually relatively uninformed of the issues and objectives of the team. Team members are usually on their best behavior but very focused on themselves.

4 stages of group formation

Her punctuated equilibrium model (Gersick, 1988, 1989, 1991) suggests that groups develop through the sudden formation, maintenance, and sudden revision of a “framework for performance”. The specific issues and activities that dominate groups’ work are left unspecified in the model, since 4 stages of group formation groups’ historical paths are expected to vary. Many of us will have to manage a team at some point in our lives. When that time comes it might help you to know that all teams go through a series of sequential stages as they grow towards sustained levels of high performance and synergy.


Other groups may experience so much conflict in the storming stage that they skip norming and performing and dissolve before they can complete their task. For groups with high social cohesion, adjourning may be a difficult emotional experience. However, group members may continue interpersonal relationships that formed even after the group dissolves. In reality, many bonds, even those that were very close, end up fading after the group disbands. This doesn’t mean the relationship wasn’t genuine; interpersonal relationships often form because of proximity and shared task interaction. Once that force is gone, it becomes difficult to maintain friendships, and many fade away.

The goal of most research on group development is to learn why and how small groups change over time. To quality of the output produced by a group, the type and frequency of its activities, its cohesiveness, the existence of group conflict. Each stage of team development doesn’t necessarily take just as much time as the one that comes after it, nor the one before it. The performing stage is a clear indication that your team is in a state of alignment. They not only understand how to ask for help, but they’ve also developed a gauge for when it’s an opportune moment to speak up, and involve you. This is because your team recognizes how they can trust you and each other in order to complete tasks, move towards their objectives and rely on each other for help.

Stage #5 — The Adjourning Stage

The group formation theory is based on proximity, which means that individuals affiliate because of spatial or geographical proximity. They interact frequently with each other on many topics, because this interactive communication is rewarding. When an organization faces some procedural difficulties, concerned groups discuss them and evolve new techniques of production, marketing, and other functions. In this stage, the group members have understood the work and therefore the dispute and the competition are at a high level.

4 stages of group formation

If the cost is more than the reward, he will not join the group. Rewards should be greater than the costs of an outcome and must be there for affiliation or attraction to take place. When people anticipate or face certain problems, they unite to solve the problems. A group provides strength to members who are willing to challenge any problem. Group behavior gives more strength to come down heavily on problems.

Wheelan’s integrated model of group development

The cohesion that begins in this stage sets the group on a trajectory influenced by group members’ feelings about one another and their purpose or task. Groups with voluntary membership may exhibit high levels of optimism about what the group can accomplish. Although the optimism can be motivating, unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment, making it important for group members to balance optimism with realism. Groups with assigned or mandatory membership may include members that carry some degree of resentment toward the group itself or the goals of the group. These members can start the group off on a negative trajectory that will lessen or make difficult group cohesiveness. Groups can still be successful if these members are balanced out by others who are more committed to and positive in regards to the purpose of the group.

  • Team members are usually on their best behavior but very focused on themselves.
  • Group members may have a hard time working with other groups as they had strong group dynamics with their previous team.
  • In fact, they may even mourn the fact that the project is ending and that they need to move on to work on other projects.
  • With a long-lasting career in editing, writing, and translation, he thinks of himself as a word-lover.

It is highly likely that at any given moment individuals on the team will be experiencing different emotions about the team’s ending. In the Performing stage, the team makes significant progress towards its goals. Commitment to the team’s mission is high and the competence of team members is also high. Team members should continue to deepen their knowledge and skills, including working to continuously improving team development. Accomplishments in team process or progress are measured and celebrated.

Team Development Stages and Leader’s Role in Them

According to this model, teams might begin a given period of development at different stages and spend different amounts of time in the various stages. Teams are not always expected to progress in a linear fashion through all of the stages. Alasdair A. K. White together with his colleague, John Fairhurst, examined Tuckman’s development sequence when developing the White-Fairhurst TPR model. They simplify the sequence and group the forming-storming-norming stages together as the “transforming” phase, which they equate with the initial performance level. This is then followed by a “performing” phase that leads to a new performance level which they call the “reforming” phase.

4 stages of group formation

It may even revert to it unless the team makes the effort to communicate problems — and then learn from these interactions. Writers Adam and Daniel confront the editor Stella head-on, expressing their frustration with the way she handled their ideas in the previous stage. Luckily, Stella sees she has taken unnecessary control over the process and tries to course-correct by establishing clearer expectations. With that in mind, this is probably one of the most unstable of the 5 stages of group development. Similarly, she has established that teams should use warm-up activities — like physical exercise and mind games — to ensure a smooth transition from the Forming Stage to the Norming Stage.


They make sure they do nothing that may put them at risk of being rejected or disliked by the group. The individual roles your team members play are incredibly important to team performance. These roles could be the official title they were hired to do, or the role they fit into naturally within the group dynamic. Should a conflict ever arise, your team will also know what steps to take to get this conflict resolved. Strong communication skills are the backbone of conflict resolution.