Tuckman’s stages of Group development


Groups can be formed for various reasons and are mainly of two types. Task group and treatment group. Task group is to complete a task and treatment group is usually a therapeutic group. These group processes usually go through various phases of development before achieving the goal. In the social group work process the development of the group has been studied by scholars and categorised into different stages. Tuckman categorised these stages as forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.

When a group is formed the group dynamics varies and it is up to the group worker how efficiently he/she facilitates the group members during the process. Let us discuss these stages in detail.

Forming stage

This is the initial stage of group formation. During this stage the members are new to each other and are being organised by the group worker. Interaction among the members is formal and polite and they look up to the group worker for leadership. The members get introduced to each other and their aim is to be accepted in the group. They try to avoid any type of conflict as they seek approval of the other group members. Discussion among the group members takes place around the tasks to be completed. Members during this phase are optimistic and enthusiastic though some members may feel a little doubtful and anxious as they are still in the process of understanding their role and expectations. 

During this period the group worker defines and clarifies the objectives of the group formation. Specific tasks and roles of each member are also decided by the group facilitator. The facilitator also identifies  individual needs of the members and their expectations. Rules and guidelines are formed for the group members. The facilitator should also encourage the individual members to get acquainted with one another and feel comfortable. The group is now ready for the tasks to be taken up for its progress.

Storming stage

As the group progresses with tasks, some conflicts and differences may arise among the group members. Differences in point of views may lead to arguments among members. Individual unique qualities are evident at this stage which if not channelized by the group worker may lead to clashes and lack of consensus during  decision making. Sometimes members may feel role confusion and lack of leadership leads to forming ambiguous goals which might not be in the interest of the group. Members may also feel overwhelmed by tasks to be performed and may lose interest and try to avoid it. Development of hostile attitude towards other members can be observed. Members may feel disconnected and anticipate lack of progress.

The role of the group worker at this time becomes crucial. He/she should identify individual differences and listen to the members’ concerns and try to facilitate conflict resolution. Effective feedback mechanisms can help members identify their shortcomings and work upon them. The group worker along with the members can rework on the roles and responsibilities and clarify the purpose of the group. Once the conflict is resolved the group members are ready to work in consensus with each other.

Norming stage

Once the group members learn to resolve their conflict they move towards norming stage. As the name suggests the members adopt and adhere to the group norms. They decide upon common procedures with consensus among the group members and agree to follow the procedures. By this time the members develop skills for conflict resolution and their main focus is now upon the task completion. Members develop a sense of belongingness towards the group and trust among the members. They are confident to express themselves freely without the fear of being judged. The group at this stage needs to develop procedures for decision making and idea sharing. A feedback mechanism should  be developed to be followed throughout the group process.

The group worker at this stage allows the members to  share leadership and work upon group processes. Team interaction should also be promoted.The group worker encourages collaborative decision making ensuring that each member contributes their ideas. 

Performing stage

This is the stage when the group is fully functional and performing the tasks and achieving the objectives. It is able to function independently with minimal supervision from the group leader. The members now know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They are organised and committed to group development. While working collaboratively, tight bond and empathy for each other develops among the group members. As the group progresses towards the goal achievement, the members develop the feeling of satisfaction and excitement about their new growth in their personal development. One of the identifying features of this stage is that the members show collaborative efforts in all the  tasks.

At this stage the role of the group worker is to look into the momentum of the progress and allow flexibility and creativity in decision making and provide guidance when needed. The worker also records individual performance and gives feedback to the members. Observations are made on the group performance by the group worker  and new knowledge is shared as per group needs. The worker also ensures that group members are supported by each other through positive reinforcement.

When the performing stage is at its peak, all the members have developed the capacity to lead the group. However, this is ideal and not many groups are able to reach this stage. 

Adjourning stage

This is the stage towards the end of the Group Work process. The goals have been achieved by now and it’s time for the disintegration of the group. Members who had by now developed an emotional bonding start feeling restless with the ideas to separate. Sometimes this can result in a slow down in performance or restlessness. Group members also feel excited towards accomplishment of the group goal. 

At this point of time the group worker evaluates the whole process and gives overall individual feedback to the members as well as overall feedback as a group. The group worker may also reward the group for their efforts and facilitate reflection on the growth achieved. If the group process has been fulfilling, the members at the termination phase may feel sad to depart from the group.


The group process is a common way of completing certain tasks. Different nomenclatures are used for this across professions. Teamwork and leadership development is an integral part of every sector. Understanding of the group dynamics at each phase helps develop leadership abilities and better completion of tasks. 

The groupwork processes usually go through various phases of development before achieving the goal. Tuckman termed them as Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.… Read more

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