Form-Storm-Norm: The Five Stages of Group Development

August 14, 2012


Unfortunately (but realistically), nearly all team development literature assumes that teams are not ready to perform effectively from the first minute they form. The high performance team consists of team members who are deeply committed to one another’s personal growth and success. To achieve this goal, a team must progress through several stages before they create such a persona. These processes include five major stages relevant in developing a high performance team:

Forming – During the forming stage, team members become familiar with one another and with the team task. The team members start to learn about the challenges and agree on goals that they begin to tackle. Team members tend to work quite independently and are unaware of the issues and objectives of the team. The leader’s ability to guide the team is tested during this stage and competent team members might already begin to model appropriate team behavior.

Storming – Every team will next enter the storming stage. In this stage, team members address issues such as problems to be solved, team functioning, and which leadership model to accept. Team members confront each other’s ideas and perspectives. Most often there is tension among team members and an antagonistic team member behavior toward the leader. To ensure that the team develops beyond this stage, it is necessary to resolve any differences in the team and to encourage open communication.

Norming – During the norming stage, the team grows cohesiveness and unity. The team manages to establish team roles, relationships, trust, and standards. These characteristics help develop action plans and establish goals. Some members may have to give up their own ideas and agree with others in order to make the team function effectively. This stage is important because team members take responsibility and have ambition to work for the overall success of the team’s goal.

Performing – Only some teams reach the performing stage. These are high performance teams that are able to function as a unit by being highly task oriented and by emphasizing performance and production. The team is able to find ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or external supervision. Team members are competent, autonomous, and handle decision-making processes by themselves without supervision. These high performance teams can revert to the storming stage through a change in leadership that challenges the existing norms and team dynamics.

Adjourning – Mission Accomplished! This final stage involves the termination of roles and disintegration from team members working relationships. A planned conclusion should include recognition for team member’s performance and achievement. In some cases concluding a group can create some uneasiness. Thus, the most effective intervention should focus on facilitating task termination and team member’s disengagement.

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Kristin Weger, a graduate student in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.



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