Tuckman Ladder

Developing a team is considered as one of the most important elements for a project manager and that to ensure the project’s success. Therefore, he should provide an appropriate and dynamic environment, where individuals can work as a team within a positive way which in turn affects the project’s success positively.

The challenges of managing a team and it’s impacts on the project’s success

Team development is not an easy job! It needs lot of work, efforts. this is because when a project manager forms a team he will have members from different cultures and fields. In this case, every employee will be working depending on what he sees or believes, there will be a lot of different opinions and lack of acceptance of the other, which may lead to some clashes. In this kind of environment, the project manager can’t make the project success.

Bruce Tuckman innovated a solution to manage the teamBruce Tuckman

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman – a human resources scientist- developed a model that Overcomes the obstacles which face the team building process, and we have mentioned some of them above. Tukman’s model which was later known as Tukman’s Ladder was initially based on 4 stages. In 1977, Tuckman, jointly with Mary Ann Jensen, added a fifth stage to the 4 stages: adjourning (Mourning), that involves completing the task and breaking up the team.


Tukman Ladder’s stages of group development

The goal of these five stages is building a team that can overcome the obstacles his work faced during work, solve problems, find solutions, make a plan and deliver the results.


This model has become the basis for subsequent models

Characteristics of Tukman’s Ladder

Tukman’s model is called Tukman’s ladder because:

  • It consists of steps
  • Each step depends on the previous one.
  • Each step prepares for the performing stage.
  • Skipping any step effects performing negatively.
  • With every new challenge, the process is repeated.


What are the steps of Tukman’s Ladder?

1- Forming

It is the first stage of team building, the forming stage of any team is important because in this stage, the members of the team get to know one another, exchange some personal information, and make new friends. This is also a good opportunity to see how each member of the team works as an individual and how they respond to pressure. And actually it is preferred that the team manager introduces each member and explain why he was especially chosen for this work.

2- Storming

Every group will next enter the storming stage in which different ideas compete and everyone believes that his idea is the one, a clash may happen between the team and here comes the role of team manager, he should try to reconcile the views of each member and show him that his opinion is important and it is right.

In the Storming Stage, the team addresses issues such as what problems they are really supposed to solve, how they will function independently and together and what leadership model they will accept. Team members open up to each other and confront each other’s ideas and perspectives.

In some cases, storming can be resolved quickly. In others, the team never leaves this stage. The maturity of some team members usually determines whether the team will ever move out of this stage. Some team members will focus on minutiae to evade real issues.

This phase can become destructive to the team and will lower the motivation if it gets out of control.

3- Norming

In the Norming Stage the team will be more harmonious and they will all agree to manage the work together in order to reach their goal. Some members may suggest a good idea that all the team will agree upon and this will help the team in their work.

In this stage, all team members take the responsibility and have the ambition to work for the success of the team’s goals. The role of the team manager is only supervising and giving members the required authorities to make decisions.

4- Performing

It is possible for some teams to reach the performing stage. These high-performing teams are able to function as a unit as they find ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or the need for external supervision.

The team members are now competent, autonomous and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channeled through means acceptable to the team. Supervisors of the team during this phase are almost always participative. The team will make most of the necessary decisions.

However, even the most high-performing teams will revert to earlier stages in some circumstances. Many long-standing teams go through these cycles many times as they react to changing circumstances. For example, a change in leadership may cause the team to revert to storming as new people challenge the existing norms and dynamics of the team.

5- Adjourning

Adjourning involves dissolution. It entails the termination of roles, the completion of tasks and reduction of dependency. The process can be stressful, particularly when the dissolution is unplanned. Some authors describe this stage as “Deforming and Mourning”, recognizing the sense of loss sometimes felt by team members.


We can summarize Tuckman’s stages ” Ladder” of group development in the below picture:

Infographic Tuckman Ladder

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