The 4 stages of team development: Where are you?

Add bookmark

As a team leader your job is to help your team reach and sustain high-performance. Here's a checklist to make sure you're progressing your team through the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing.

The Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing model of group development was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results [1].

Today Public Health Departments are employing the teaming concept on a regular basis to make quality improvements to their critical processes. Team leaders and managers need to understand how teams mature and when to intervene when things are not progressing as desired. This Teamwork Observation Check List (√) is designed to help observe a team to determine how they are maturing, where some problems might exits, and some tips to overcome them.

The forming, storming, norming and performing model of team development.

Stage 1: Forming

Characteristics Displayed By Team Members


Not Observed

Signs of excitement, anticipation and optimism for the project

Anxiety about the task

Gathering information on who is on the team and why

Hesitant Participation – everyone at best behavior

Testing behavioral expectations

Watching appointed leader for guidance and direction

Process starting to be established

Avoidance of conflict

Information gathering - Interested in the why of the team, when we meet, how long will this last, what are roles, etc


Tips to facilitate a move to the next stage:

  • Distribute a clear AIM Statement to all team members
  • Let team members openly express concerns
  • Discover common ground – use a JoHari Window
  • Define what is appropriate team behavior
  • Orient the team to scope of their task
  • Clearly define what is to expected of each team member
  • Introduce and train the team on the problem solving model to be used

Stage 2: Storming

Characteristics Displayed By Team Members


Not Observed

Decision making is difficult - ideas compete for consideration

Challenging the rules

Defined problem solving process introduced

Listening to others is a problem

Conflict is evident in group interaction - defensiveness or competitiveness

Some tension arises people trying to dominate – some attempt to establish themselves – power struggle

Minimal task accomplishment

Leader being challenged

Some trust being built

Clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist


Tips to facilitate a move to next stage:

  • Constructive feedback on what is and is not working
  • Even work load distribution
  • Focus on the problem
  • Develop ground rules
  • Get the team away from conflict on competing ideas and get them to debate them constructively
  • Different ideas compete for consideration; team members open up to each other and confront each other's ideas and perspectives.
  • Do not let team members focus on minutiae to evade real issues.
  • Start utilizing the problem solving model
  • Help the team build its trust level

Stage 3: Norming

Characteristics Displayed By Team Members


Not Observed

Positive feeling towards the leader emerge

Decisions are being reached through consensus

Members accept their roles and responsibilities

Commitment to the task is high

Comfortable and productive as a team

Follow a defined problem solving process

Team starts to become independent

Team leader can delegate tasks to sub groups


Tips to facilitate a move to next stage:

  • Reinforce ground rules at the start of each team meeting
  • Follow the problem solving model
  • Use Brainstorming to get ideas flowing
  • Get team members use to using data to resolve conflicts
  • Confront destructive behaviors when they occur

Stage 4: Performing

Characteristics Displayed By Team Members


Not Observed

Team clearly knows what it is doing – shared vision

Leader facilitates rather than leads

Team is focused on its improvement goals

Disagreements are resolved with data

Team functions with a high degree of independence

Team makes decisions easily

Team members understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and use them to achieve their goals


Tips to facilitate a move to next stage:

  • Do not rest – finish the solving and fixing the problem
  • Develop a handoff strategy – who will continue on the work of the team
  • Conduct a lessons learned session on how we could have matured quicker to help other teams starting out


Being part of a high-performance team can be a rewarding experience for those on the team. But if the team does not reach the high performing stage it can be extremely frustrating for team members. Being a high performing team requires time and commitment on the part of all on the team to get to that stage.

As a team leader your job is to help your team reach and sustain high-performance. The Four Stages of Teamwork Observation Check List (√) was designed to help you be aware of the challenges the team will encounter.

Download a spreadsheet with each of the characteristics you can observe at each stage of the forming, storming, norming and performing process.