Adjourning and Mourning: Tuckman Part 5

Managing Team Performance: Team Work 101

Form, Storm, Norm, Perform and Adjourn.

Tuckman Part 5 – Adjourning and Mourning

Adjourning and Mourning is the last part of the Tuckman model of how groups/teams develop.

Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. And, this includes a fourth and main stage when the group actually delivers the task. So, understanding the Tuckman model can help you lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively. Some group leaders find the stages uncomfortable – they can be challenging to handle. Unfortunately, stages can seem slow and a waste of precious work time. But going through them means a more cohesive and efficient working group is formed

This short series of posts is about how you can lead your group through the Tuckman stages to achieve a good result. My post on  Stage 1, described how the group will be looking for some ground rules. In Stage 2, they set about testing what they think those ground rules might be. Stage 3 meant people began to experience a sense of group belonging. Stage 4 was about managing team performance.   Now, in Stage 4 Adjourning and Mourning,  the group breaks-up with its purpose, hopefully fulfilled.

Adjourning, and mourning

If the team leader has taken the advice set out for moving from Stage 4, the group will now have delivered the task.  The members can move on to new things carrying forward learning from this experience into their new work. But for that to be done successfully there is a change to be managed.

The break-up can be hard for members who have come to enjoy team routines or who have developed close working relationships with other team members.  People may feel very insecure and anxious about finding a new role.  It is important to celebrate and document what has been achieved and to make sure that all have a chance to share the learning from this group experience. Some group members may need particular support in moving forward. It can be a stressful period, particularly if the group is being broken up before its task is complete.

Leading the group through Stage 5 

What is the role of the leader? With a group in Stage 5, there is an opportunity to use a whole range of management skills.  You are dealing with conflicting emotions in yourself as well as in the team. These can include happiness and pride in a job complete, sadness at the dissolution and, even, anger if the group is being disbanded for less than noble reasons.

There may be some mundane but important tasks to complete. These may include archiving and record keeping for governance purposes. But team members may find it difficult to find the motivation to complete them,. Also encouraging honesty and sharing around lessons learned by the group during its lifetime, means you need to keep the members’ trust. A positive outcome means you lead them to acknowledge the task is complete, accepting the best and worst of the process. Then you help them let go and say goodbye

What could be problems in Stage 5 Adjourning and mourning?

Team members may well have feelings of dislocation and loss.  People deal with their feelings in different ways.  You may find some lose motivation completely and start to avoid the necessary work.  Others may argue over minor details and you find them reverting to storming – old arguments re-surface.  Others may deny or try to pretend that isn’t really the end and find excuses to prolong the process. Leading/managing means being vigilant, identifying what is happening and intervening with understanding and support.

This is the last in this series on the Tuckman Model – Forming, Norming, Storming, Performing and Adjourning.  But I’d welcome your thoughts and your questions. If you need advice on implementing the model, please get in touch.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link


2 thoughts on “Adjourning and Mourning: Tuckman Part 5”

  1. Pingback: Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 4 – Managing the Performing Stage | WiseWolf Talking – Leadership, Management, Career and Personal Development
  2. Pingback: Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 1 - Managing the Forming Stage | WiseWolf Talking - the Wisewolf Coaching Blog

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