Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 2 – Managing the Storming Stage

In a recent post at this link, I introduced the Tuckman theory of how groups/teams develop. Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. Understanding the model can help you to lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively.

Some group leaders find the stages uncomfortable – they can be challenging to handle. Some stages seem slow and a waste of precious work time. But going through them means that a more cohesive and efficient working group is formed – a group that allows everyone to contribute their best!  A skilled manager can observe the stages happening and help the process along.  That means you get the best outcome for all in the least time.

In this short series of posts, I discuss how you can lead your group through the stages to achieve a good result. In my last post (at this link) I discussed Stage 1 Forming. In Stage 1 we described how the group will be looking for some ground rules. In Stage 2, as you will see, they set about testing what they think those ground rules might be.

Stage 2 – Storming.

If the team leader has taken the advice set out for moving from Stage 1, the group will now have some goals.  But they are not yet organized so that they can achieve them.  By now they have been together long enough to stop needing to be on their best behaviour.

They may begin to debate how they should go forward. What are the priorities going to be and who is going to take which role in the team?  What systems and processes are going to be put in place?

Differences of opinion and beliefs can lead to conflict and they may begin to jockey for position. Power struggles may break out, particularly if you have a number of strong personalities vying to lead.  They may begin to challenge you as group leader and cliques may form.

Leading the group through Stage 2 – Storming

So what can you do?  The team needs to be focused on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationship and emotional issues.  Some compromises need to be made and you need to help them find the middle ground. You need to start selling ideas and the benefits of what you are trying to do.  There needs to be lots of communication. The group needs to understand the importance of the task, the processes needed and their roles.  If all is going well the group will move quickly through this stage to agree some “norms” for working together.

What if they get stuck in Stage 2 – Storming

If necessary, your may need to set down the ground rules for group behaviour and get the group to agree that they should treat each other with respect.  You need to keep a close eye on the debate – if it is about ideas, that is a good sign and they can be left to work it out if time allows. But if the debate becomes personal then you will need to intervene.  Don’t suppress conflict completely because the group will stagnate and not learn to work together very well.  This is where planning social events can help so that individuals begin to see each other in a more rounded way.

If necessary, tighten up the goals and targets!  Get the group to focus very sharply upon them and the benefits which will be lost if people are not prepared to compromise and reach agreement.  If cliques have formed, try putting people to work with others outside their chosen subgroup so that new relationships can be established.

Now we are moving towards the real work  – the next post will be about Stage 3 Norming

I’d welcome your thoughts and your questions.  Please share your own experience of handling Stage 2. What lessons do you have to pass on to others?

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason

Other useful articles

  • Team Work; forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning with Dr Tuckman
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming,Performing and Adjourning. Part 1 – Managing the Forming Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 2 – Managing the Storming Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning Part 3 – Managing the Norming Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 4 – Managing the Performing Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 5 – Managing the Adjourning Stage

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