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Tuckman’s model of team change

Tuckman’s model of team change


Forming is the first stage. This involves the team asking a set of fundamental questions:

  • What is our primary purpose?

  • How do we structure ourselves as a team to achieve our purpose?

  • What roles do we each have?

  • Who is the leader?

  • How will we work together?

  • How will we relate together?

  • What are the boundaries of the team?

If we were to take a logical rational view of the team we could imagine that this could all be accomplished relatively easily and relatively painlessly. And sometimes, on short projects with less than five team members, it is. However human beings are not completely logical rational creatures, and sometimes this process is difficult. We all have emotions, personalities, unique characteristics and personal motivations.

As we saw when we were exploring individual change, human beings react to change in different ways. And the formation of a new team is about individuals adjusting to change in their own individual ways.

Initially the questions may be answered in rather a superficial fashion. The primary task of the team might be that which was written down in a memo from the departmental head, along with the structure they first thought of. The leader might typically have been appointed beforehand and ‘imposed’ upon the team. Individuals’ roles are agreed to in an initial and individual cursory meeting with the team leader.

The team may agree to relate via a set of groundrules using words that nobody could possibly object to, but nobody knows what they really mean in practice: ‘be honest’, ‘team before self’, ‘have fun’, and so on.

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