Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing

If you are in project management, you must have heard of Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing, which are known Tuckman model of team formation.

The project team is temporary; it exists as long as the project does, dissolving with the conclusion. For the next project, you will build a new team.

This is an ongoing process. Each team passes through the stages of team formation: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. As a project manager, your job will be to support your team members and help them develop.

Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning: Tuckman Model

According to Bruce Tuckman, team development has five stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. These are known as Tuckman Stages.

Team members behave differently in each stage, and the project manager must act accordingly to help them develop.

Let’s discuss the stages of team formation and the role of the project manager.

Forming

All team members are new and don’t know the other team members. They don’t have a proper understanding of their roles and responsibilities and work independently.

Here, the project manager will work with an autocratic or directing style to avoid disorganization and chaos.

Storming

This is the second stage. Team members start getting to know each other and understand their roles and responsibilities. However, they still need a solid command to keep things aligned.

The project manager will be less autocratic than in the Forming stage. They will display a coaching style of leadership.

Norming

Now team members have a sound understanding of their roles and responsibilities, and they begin to work together and adjust their habits and behavior.

The project manager will be less heavy-handed since team members have started to understand each other and their expectations clarified. Here, the project manager will act as a facilitating leader.

Performing

In this stage, team members are acting like one, interdependent and adjusted. Now they are a high-performing team and can work with less supervision.

They are aligned with each other and require minimal monitoring. Here, the project manager acts in a laissez-faire style or as a supportive leader.

Laissez-faire is a French word that means “don’t interfere” or “let go.” This leadership is also known as delegating leadership. In this style, the project managers trust their team members and allow them to work freely.

This leadership style is useful when team members are skilled, experienced, and capable of working independently.

Adjourning

The project is completed, and the team is released or deputed to another project.

Here, again, the project manager will behave with a laissez-faire style.

You should lead your team based on their behavior and your understanding of the project as a project manager. There is no rule for governing style in different phases of the project.

You must act according to your team’s behavior, which may vary.

You don’t need all the team members in the initiation and planning phase, and most are hired at the beginning of the execution phase. Therefore, it will be safe to assume that the Forming stage includes the initiation, planning, and the beginning of the execution phase. Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning will follow the same order.

Forming Storming Norming and Performing Tuckman Model table

The leadership style of a project manager in different phases of team formation is a fascinating topic. You should balance the qualities of a leader and a manager; you may be a good leader but not a good manager, or vice versa.

Leaders have followers who share the same vision.

Effective leaders involve followers, motivating and influencing them to get the job done. Leaders have the charismatic power to inspire team members.

Followers believe in their leader’s cause and support it.

While leaders have followers, managers have subordinates who complete a task, and they have authoritative and punitive powers.

Team members follow orders because they know managers can punish them for not doing so.

As a good project manager, you should combine the qualities of a leader and a manager because you must lead and manage your team to complete the project successfully. You should be able to motivate them and earn their respect and support.

You may not always work in a projectized organization. The company may be a weak or balanced matrix organization where you have limited authority, so leadership qualities will help you influence and motivate your team members.

Leadership and management complement each other when effectively balanced.

Summary

An effective project manager successfully balances and blends the qualities of a manager and a leader. Management qualities will help you assign and complete tasks, and leadership qualities will help you motivate and influence your team members to work efficiently.

Your management style may not change, but your leadership may change according to the stages of team formation. Leadership style will vary in different stages of team formation; however, the objective will be the same: to lead the team to achieve the project’s objectives.

What is your current stage of team formation: Forming, Storming, Norming, or Performing? Please share your experiences in the comments section.

This topic is vital from a PMP exam point of view. You may see one or two questions from this topic in your exam.

This topic is vital from a PMP exam point of view. You may see one or two questions from this topic in your exam.