Creating a Health Storm! The Team Development Model Explained

Ken Larson

Bruce Tuckman created the team development model in 1965, and it’s still used by business leaders throughout the world today. It’s simple to understand, but it’s difficult for many leaders and organizations to implement.


You Create your team.

You Develop your team.

You Work toward a goal.

You Surpass a goal…maybe.


Every team wants to reach that final stage: the Performing stage.
However, as a leadership coach, I can tell you that very few teams make it.

An orchestra can’t grab random people off the street and tell them to perform a symphony. This level of performance and professionality takes time, talent, and most importantly, teamwork. Sometimes leaders aren’t willing to take the time, grow the talent, or promote that teamwork that is necessary to reach that final stage.

So are you and your team performing or are you just playing?

Is just showing up to the stage enough for you? Or are you hungry and ready to earn the standing ovation? Click To Tweet

Let’s find out.


FORMING – The Assembly Stage

Expect new hires to lean heavily on leaders as they become acquainted with the new environment and acclimate themselves with the company purpose, its objectives, and client relationships. It’s typical for standard business processes to be ignored, and you’ll often find that team members test the leniency and tolerance of the leader.

Essentially, this is the stage where teammates are “figuring it all out.”

You’ve graduated from the forming stage when you’ve structured the optimal team for the business strategy that lies ahead. Without this ideal team, the entire development process can be extremely difficult.

Now that you’ve assembled your all-star team, let’s get storming.


STORMING – The Learning Stage

The Storming Stage is where most of a team’s learning pains happen. It’s is a difficult stage that can create positive or negative experiences for businesses. Most of the time, this negativity occurs because leaders don’t pay attention to the team development process.

Throughout the storming stage, factions may start, and many times, teams may crash and crumble from the unfamiliarity of the situation. However, both the leader and the team can learn from these obstacles and adjust accordingly.

Are you paying attention to your team?

Make sure you’re tuned in!

The leader’s goal during the storming phase is to be aware of the signs and signals of team stressors. With your awareness, the team can push through this stage quickly and efficiently.

How do I prevent this? How do I embrace the new guy?

Embrace your new team members through coaching. Keep them goal-oriented to prevent them from focusing on emotional issues or other distractions.

How are roles realized?

Team members will attempt to establish themselves in relation to their leaders and teammates by taking projects by storm.

Teammates will thrive on high-energy and positive attitudes that keep the motivation strong. You’ve progressed to the norming stage. Awesome!


NORMING – The Clarification Stage

How do I create clarity?

Listen to and address concerns as your team approaches and reaches consensus.

After you establish clarity, and as your team figures out how to work together appropriately and efficiently, your main goal as the leader is to recognize and applaud this efficiency.

Commitment and unity are critical in the Norming stage.

Overall respect for leadership is defined and clear, and your team will develop its preferred working style.

Congrats, you’re cool now!

However, even though you’ve earned their appreciation, complacency will kill teamwork.
SO AVOID IT! Just because you’re getting along doesn’t mean you’re performing.

Now What?

Once clarity is apparent, you’ll notice plenty of positive, forward-charging energy moving throughout the environment. This is where many businesses get stuck, because to their leaders, it’s “good enough.”

But like I always say:
Good enough is never enough.

You get what you tolerate, and If “norming” is what you strive for, the performing stage will be elusive.
Are you one of those teams? If not, congrats! Let’s charge forward.


PERFORMING – The Exceeding Stage

Think of an orchestra.

Every player is strategically aware. The conductor oversees the performance, but each musician’s confidence in their ability to play a specific instrument flawlessly contributes to the spectacle.

Now there’s a focus on surpassing goals. In the orchestra’s case, it’s creating stunning, sonic beauty. Without their confidence and poised coalescence, they couldn’t reach their goal.


They share the vision.

They share the motivation.

They share the drive.

They share the stage.


The bar is set high, but these skyward goals are more achievable when the team can lean on each other and work together.


Success Story:

I recently helped with team development for a student association at a local college.

The president taped a construction paper thermometer on her door representing the Tuckman Team Development Model. She’d adjust it weekly based on her analysis, and the association would meet to discuss necessary changes that would further their progression to the performing stage.

She kept her finger on the pulse of the team dynamic, and they reached their goal! They crushed it!


You’re the leader. Ask yourself:

Are you just here to play? Or are you and your team here to earn the standing ovation?