Team Development With Help from the Tuckman Model

Team Development With Help from the Tuckman Model

In Quality Management by Frances DonnellyLeave a Comment

Team Development With Help from the Tuckman Model

If the terms Forming, Norming, Storming and Performing seem familiar to you that would be because they are part of the Tuckman Model for group performance that was developed in the 1960s. Most managers or leaders who find themselves engaged with teams have likely been exposed to these phases and in some instances have found themselves stuck in one much to the detriment of their project’s success.

Being aware of these phases, planning for the time it will take your team to progress through them, and having a few choice tools to help move the process along appropriately can be very helpful for ensuring project success.

In more recent work on the model, an additional phase has been identified that is often ignored.  This fifth phase, considered by many to be equally relevant, is labelled Adjourning.  This is the phase where the team is debriefed, lessons learned are compiled and then the team is released, which creates the opportunity for the development of a new team for a new project.  An alternative for organizations uncomfortable with disbanding a team might be to label this concluding phase Re-norming, which allows for reshaping the team towards a new project.

But, lets back up a bit because before “forming” we need to adopt a process for personnel selection.  Often, those in an area of functional responsibility with a specific hierarchal role are selected by default with no additional consideration.  However, a worthwhile alternative approach would be to identify suitable candidates using an objective measure of competence for the project such as KESAA, which is advocated by ASQ.

KESAA: Knowledge, Experience, Skills, Aptitude and Attitude.

Knowledge: This is the level of formal education of participants.  As an example for a business intelligence or metrics project there are likely two areas of formal education that apply:

  1. Knowledge of statistics
  2. Knowledge of data management tools

Experience: This is the measure of time spent applying knowledge and the intensity of the application. So a project on data mining might call for a database administrator, but if multiple databases are involved then finding someone with that broader experience would be helpful.

Skills: This is very practical and covers demonstrated proficiency in tools and equipment. Skills are acquired abilities like being an effective communicator or good at instructional writing.

Aptitude:  This refers to the innate qualities of the individuals that will be relevant or useful to this project.  We all know someone who we can identify as having an aptitude for numbers or great eye-hand coordination.  These would be considered aptitudes.

Attitude: This is all about the disposition of the individuals selected for the project.  You might particularly be looking for someone who can easily adapt to new or changed plans and procedures.

Finally, if you really want a complete competency evaluation, add one more facet to your examination in the form of Availability.

Availability expands the requisites in a meaningful way because it takes into account that no matter how highly valued a team member is, if they don’t realistically have the time for the project they will not be a useful resource.

Simply finding the most competent individuals in the organization for the project team is not a guarantee of success.  Any organization engaged in improvement projects, whether under the guise of annual objectives or a continuous improvement process such as Six Sigma, should follow a specific team creation and development process strategy before leaping into the project itself.

For help developing competency requirements for an upcoming project download use our competency work sheet.

Additional information and ideas on team development can be also be found at:

Do you have methods for team building or horror stories around dysfunctional teams that would make good learning experiences?

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