Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The lifecycle of a team or group - a reminder of Tuckman's model

The Lifecycle of a Team or Group: A Reminder of Tuckman's Model
Jennifer Britton, MES, PCC, CPCC. Copyright 2014

Groups and teams are breathing, living entities, constantly changing. Teams and groups have their own
lifecycle and distinct needs at each stage.

As coaches, facilitators or leaders it  is important to recognize where the team or group we are working with is at and adjust our support accordingly.

Bruce Tuckman's model of Team and Group Development emerged in the 1960s - initially with four stages a group goes through - Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. He later added the fifth stage Adjourning, when groups or teams start to wind down.

Today's blog post explores some key support considerations at each stage. It is a topic I go into much greater depth around in both of my books, particularly in chapter 8 of From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching.

The forming stage occurs when groups or teams are coming together, and/or are being joined by new group/team members. Key needs at this stage include safety, connection and understanding what expectations aree. As coaches, it is important at this stage to encourage dialogue around expectations, group or team agreements  (or "how we want to operate/get along") and connect people with each other as well as with you.

By a second conversation groups are often into the Storming Stage where they are asking themselves "What? So who are we? What's this all about?". This is where conflict starts to emerge, and can be very overt (visible) or under wraps (i.e. people choosing not to engage and doublebooking themselves). Conflict is a normal and healthy part of group development when they have the tools and skills to learn to work across differences. We can support groups and teams as coaches sat this stage by supporting them with  a process and tools that help them gain clarity about who they are and what it's all about.

As groups and teams move through storming and start to create their own identify they move to the norming stage. We may start seeing the group really start coming together in the second or third group coaching conversation, or even in the morning of a multi-day program. As coaches we can support the process by encouraging dialogue around roles, key goals they are working towards collectively and the purpose of the group or team.

The next stage in Tuckman's model is performing. At this stage the group or team has everything they need and clarity around what they are doing so they can get the work done. As coaches we can support teams and groups at this stage for pausing to reflect on what's working, what's not, what needs a tweak and what's going to support their results.

Groups and teams will end - whether it is a team member leaving, a project team winding down, or a group disbanding. In the adjourning stage it is imrptant to create the space for people to acknolwedge their achievments, learning and start looking at next steps.

Questions to consider:
What stage is the group or team you are working with right now?
What can you do to support them? What do they need from you?

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, MES, PCC, CPCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Upcoming September programs include the Mentor Coaching Group for ACC Renewals and ACC/PCC portfolio routes starting September 12 (Fridays 9-10am ET) or September 29 (Mondays at 10 or 11 am ET) as well as the Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar (starting Friday Sept 12 at 10:15 am ET - 6.75 CCEs)

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