Successful Teams: Forming

Are you familiar with Tuckman’s classic theory of group development?  In 1965, psychologist Bruce Tuckman defined “forming, storming, norming and performing” as the stages a group follows in order to become a high-performing team. In 1977, Tuckman added a fifth stage, “adjourning” that involves completing the mission and breaking up the team.

The forming stage occurs when a team first comes together.  Team members are learning about each other as well as the opportunities and challenges of the mission ahead of them.  This is the team leader’s opportunity to start well and set the stage for success.

If you are leading a team, have a conversation with your team and discuss the following:

  • Purpose – why does the team exist?
  • Results – what are the expected outcomes and success criteria?
  • Boundaries – how big is the sandbox the team is playing in?
  • Norms – what are the rules of engagement for describing how the team will work together?

Create a charter with your team at the forming stage, defining a shared understanding of why the team exists and what it is trying to accomplish. If your team has been in existence without a charter, you can still discuss these topics and develop one. For more details about the various components listed above, check out our sample Team Charter.

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