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30 Jan, 2009

Stages of Team Formation

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Executive Coaching Articles

Coaching Teams

A team is generally established to work on a particular project or task. When the task is complete, the team then generally disbands.

There is often an expectation that any team is effective immediately but this is an unrealistic expectation because before a team can become highly effective, the members need to grow and mature.

Tuckman and Jensen (1977) suggested that there are five stages through which the team must progress to become highly effective. They are:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing
  • Adjourning

At this stage, the individual team members have not yet become a team. They are still finding out about each other and need to feel included; they seek to know one another’s attitudes and backgrounds, and to establish the ground rules. Individuals are also keen to establish their own personal identity in the team and make an impression on their fellow team members. The main issues for the team, at this stage, are cohesion and involvement.

This is the stage during the formation of the team where most conflict is encountered. It can be a very difficult time within the team, where team members will engage in conflict and test the limits. Individuals will bargain with each other as they try to sort out what each of them wants from the team process. Individuals will communicate their personal goals and it is at this stage that conflict may prevail when differences in individual goals are revealed. Individuals within the team may resist control and show opposition to other team members. The major issues at this stage are team direction and the management of conflict.

This is the stage where group norms are established such as the norms of behaviour and role allocation. The individuals within the group develop ways of working to forge closer relationships and harmony where mutual trust and respect exists. The team focuses on goals and delivering results. Individuals welcome feedback.

This stage is concerned with actually getting on with the task in hand and achieving the overall objectives. The team will probably engage in group thinking and exclude non-team contributors. At this stage, the issues faced are more likely to be concerned with individual performance such as de-motivation. Some teams never reach this point as they are caught up in an earlier stage.

In this final stage, the team may disband because they have either completed the task or fellow members have left. Before the team disbands, they may reflect on their time together and then prepare to go their own ways. For some team members they may experience feelings of separation and loss.

Coaching can support team formation and it can mean the difference between a successful team achieving its objectives and a team that disbanded before the task was complete.

3 Responses to "Stages of Team Formation"

1 | Tania Watson

January 31st, 2009 at 12:27 pm


These stages for a team are critical and coaching can and does play a vital role in settling teams through the process of coming and working together.

There is another, complementary, model to support the coaching process through the Tuckman and Jensen 5 stages and it comes from Patrick Lencioni (Tabletop Group – USA). He considers the things that block successful teamwork – the 5 dysfunctions of a team – the things that if not in place will certainly derail a team becoming effective in its mission: trust, conflict and debate, commitment, accountability and results. It is worth a read (a fable actually) and consideration to how you, as a coach, might use the knowledge and understanding of the necessary ingredients for successful teams in the work you do with teams…

2 | Albert Cudjoe

January 27th, 2011 at 1:41 pm


I am a second year marketing student in a Polytechnic in Ghana. I read your note on Team Formation. It really helped me in my end of semester examination, keep up the good work.


April 23rd, 2012 at 6:56 am


I am a first year student in Botho college (NIIT), Botswana. I have read and understood your notes about Team Formation. It realy increased my knowledge about it and hope to pass my exams…..

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