In a recent post at this link, I introduced the Tuckman theory of how groups/teams develop. Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. Understanding the model can help you to lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively.
Some group leaders find the stages uncomfortable – they can be challenging to handle. Some stages seem slow and a waste of precious work time. But going through them means that a more cohesive and efficient working group is formed – a group that allows everyone to contribute their best! A skilled manager can observe the stages happening and help the process along. That means you get the best outcome for all, in the least time.
In this short series, I discuss how you can lead your group through the stages to achieve a good result.
In my last four posts in this series, I discussed Stage 1 Forming, Stage 2 Storming, Stage 3 Norming and Stage 4 Performing. In Stage 1 we described how the group will be looking for ground rules. In Stage 2, they set about testing what they think those ground rules might be. In Stage 3, people begin to experience a sense of group belonging and a feeling of relief that conflicts are being resolved. In Stage 4 the group are high-performing, motivated and achieve effective and satisfying results. Now in Stage 5 the group is breaking up – hopefully with its purpose fulfilled.
Not all groups do complete their tasks but even so elements of the process described below need to be managed successfully.
Stage 5 – Adjourning
If the team leader has taken the advice set out for moving from Stage 4, the group will now have delivered the task. The members can move on to new things carrying forward learning from this experience into their new work. But for that to be done successfully there is a change to be managed.
The break-up can be hard for members who have come to enjoy team routines or who have developed close working relationships with other team members. People may feel very insecure and anxious about finding a new role. It is important to celebrate and document what has been achieved and to make sure that all have a chance to share the learning from this group experience. Some group members may need particular support in moving forward. It can be a stressful period, particularly if the group is being broken up before its task is complete.
Leading the group through Stage 5 – Adjourning
What is the role of the leader? With a group in Stage 5, there is an opportunity to use a whole range of management skills. You are dealing with conflicting emotions in yourself as well as in the team – these can include happiness and pride in a job complete, sadness at the dissolution and, even, anger if the group is being disbanded for less than noble reasons.
There may be some mundane but important tasks to complete around archiving and record keeping for governance purposes but team member may find it difficult to find the motivation to complete them, Also encouraging honesty and sharing around lessons learned by the group during its lifetime, means that you need to keep the members’ trust. A positive outcome is you lead them to acknowledge the task is complete, accepting the best and worst of the process and then to let go and say goodbye
What could be problems in Stage 5 – Adjourning?
Team members may well have feelings of dislocation and loss. People deal with their feelings in different ways. You may find some lose motivation completely and start to avoid the necessary work. Others may argue over minor details and you find them reverting to storming – old arguments re-surface. Others may deny or try to pretend that isn’t really the end and find excuses to prolong the process. Leading/managing means being vigilant, identifying what is happening and intervening with understanding and support.
This is the end of this series on the Tuckman Model – Forming, Norming, Storming, Performing and Adjourning. But I’d welcome your thoughts and your questions. Please share your own experience of handling Stage 5. What lessons do you have to pass on to others?
Other useful articles
- Team Work; forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning with Dr Tuckman
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming,Performing and Adjourning. Part 1 – Managing the Forming Stage
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 2 – Managing the Storming Stage
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning Part 3 – Managing the Norming Stage
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 4 – Managing the Performing Stage
- Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 5 – Managing the Adjourning Stage