Want a high performing team? You can expect this...

Sep 08, 2020

When your team starts working together, they are, in essence, a group of strangers. 

Of course, the longer they work together under solid leadership, the more united they become

but (as you know) the path ain't all sunshine and roses.

Bruce Tuckman came up with the phrase 'forming, storming, norming, and performing' to describe the path most teams follow to high performance.  

I like to share Tuckman's path with my clients because most are unaware of the natural process teams go through to get to high performance.

By the time they find me, my clients feel like everything has gone wrong, and they are an utter failure at leading a team.

Hello, Storming phase!

When I teach them the different phases and how to manage their team (ahem and themselves), they realize nothing has gone wrong.

As a side note: For those of you who are fascinated by group dynamics, start to pay attention, and you will begin to see these phases everywhere  - FB groups, music ensemble, sports teams, anytime people need to work or interact with each other.

Ok, so the four stages are forming, storming, norming, and performing. 

As you read the different descriptions, determine where your team is currently.

Let me break down these stages for you.

The first stage is forming. 

I call this the nice-nice stage - everyone is uber polite to each other.

Some are anxious, as they haven't fully understood what work the team will do.

Others are merely excited about the task ahead. 

The next stage is storming. 

This is when the fun begins.  #not

Honestly, this is the stage where many teams fail because of poor leadership.

This is the stage when members start to push against boundaries established in the forming stage. 

Storming often starts when team members' work styles and personalities begin to conflict.

Remember, your team is mostly compromised of different roles with different skillsets and strengths.

Conflict is a natural part of this stage. Nothing has gone wrong.

Ah, now you can start to breathe cuz norming is the next stage.

When your team moves into the norming stage, people start to resolve their differences, appreciate colleagues' strengths, and respect your position as a leader. 

Can I get an AMEN?!


And then, finally, when your team reaches the performing stage, your team is rockin' and rollin' and achieving the team goals. 

You can safely delegate more work now and spend more time on developing team members. 


As a manager, your goal is to help your team to reach and sustain high performance as quickly as possible.

Identifying what your stage your team is at is the first step so that you can flex your approach to interact more effectively with your team.

From a leadership perspective, these will be your areas of focus for each stage:

Forming - Clear expectations; systems in place (and documented)

Storming - It's all about accountability (and difficult conversations)

Norming - Loosening the reigns and letting your team take more of a lead.

Performing - Let 'em go get 'em!  Check-in frequently; re-direct if necessary.

The good news is now you're aware of the path your team will take to get where you want them to be.

The bad news is this path is not a one and done. 

Every time something changes the dynamic of your team (new team member, new project, etc.), you will go through these phases again (and again).

Want more?

Tune into this week's podcast to find out how you can more effectively lead your team through these stages.



Download Now!

The Right Way to Lose Weight Workbook and Video Series