Stages Activities

Forming Members come together, learn about each other, and determine the purpose of the group.

Storming Members engage in more direct communication and get to know each other. Conflicts between group members will often arise during this stage.

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Norming Members establish spoken or unspoken rules about how they communicate and work. Status, rank, and roles in the group are established.

Performing Members fulfill their purpose and reach their goal.

Adjourning Members leave the group.


Tuckman begins with the forming stage as the initiation of group formation. This stage is also called the

orientation stage because individual group members come to know each other. Group members who are

new to each other and can’t predict each other’s behavior can be expected to experience the stress of

uncertainty. Uncertainty theory states that we choose to know more about others with whom we have

interactions in order to reduce or resolve the anxiety associated with the unknown. The more we

know about others and become accustomed to how they communicate, the better we can predict how they

will interact with us in future contexts. If you learn that Monday mornings are never a good time for your

supervisor, you quickly learn to schedule meetings later in the week. Individuals are initially tentative and

display caution as they begin to learn about the group and its members.


If you don’t know someone very well, it is easy to offend. Each group member brings to the group a set of

experiences, combined with education and a self-concept. You won’t be able to read this information on a

nametag, but instead you will only come to know it through time and interaction. Since the possibility of

overlapping and competing viewpoints and perspectives exists, the group will experience

a storming stage, a time of struggles as the members themselves sort out their differences. There may

be more than one way to solve the problem or task at hand, and some group members may prefer one

strategy over another. Some members of the group may be more senior to the organization than you, and

members may treat them differently. Some group members may be as new as you are and just as

uncertain about everyone’s talents, skills, roles, and self-perceptions. The wise business communicator

will anticipate the storming stage and help facilitate opportunities for the members to resolve uncertainty

before the work commences. There may be challenges for leadership, and there may be conflicting

viewpoints. The sociology professor sees the world differently than the physics professor. The sales agent

sees things differently than someone from accounting. A manager who understands and anticipates this

normal challenge in the group’s life cycle can help the group become more productive.







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