Tuckman’s Theory of Communication Stages, Advantages and Disadvantages

Tuckman’s Theory of Communication Stages, Pros & Cons. The 5 stages of Tuckman’s group development theory or Tuckman Stages are Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. Advantages and Disadvantages of Tuckman Theory.

Tuckman’s Theory

Tuckman’s theory refers to the five stages of the group development model developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965. It is also known as Tuckman’s model, Tuckman ladder, 5 stages of group development theory, Tuckman’s team development model, Tuckman theory of communication and also Tuckman stages.

Bruce Tuckman introduced his group and team development theory or model in 1965 therefore, it is known as the Tuckman model or Tuckman theory.  In the 1970s, he added the fifth stage to his four stages of group development theory. In 1977, Tuckman and Mary Ann Jensen added the fifth and final stage into Tuckman’s theory. The name of the fifth stage is Adjourning which represents the happiness of achieving the interdependent group goal by the group member.

According to Tuckman theory, Tuckman stages are Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. It is one of the appropriate theories for explaining the behaviour of group members with dynamic characteristics. A perfect theory to describe how to group and team members adjust and adapt in a group gradually.

Tuckman's Theory of Communication, Advantages and Disadvantages
Tuckman’s Theory or Tuckman’s Model of Group Communication
Tuckman’s Theory of Communication

The Five Stages of Tuckman’s Theory of Communication are Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning.  Tuckman identified both advantages and disadvantages of group communication. Although, in 1965 Tuckman proposed a four-stage of group development theory but later he added the fifth stage called adjourning. Tuckman’s theory assists group members to overcome the obstacles in the group and adjust in the group gradually.  Therefore, it is known as a group facilitation theory and the five-stage is known as the Tuckman stages. Tuckman’s group development theory consists of five stages that facilitate group formation and development.

Tuckman Stages are:
  1. Forming Stage
  2. Storming Stage
  3. Norming Stage
  4. Performing Stage
  5. Adjourning Stage.
1. Forming Stage of Tuckman’s Theory: (Orientation)

Forming is the first stage of Tuckman’s theory of communication also known as the 5 stages of the group development theory or model. Usually, members carefully explore both personal and group goals in this stage. They feel uncomfortable about working with a group of strangers or unfamiliar colleagues try to understand and test personal relationships. Member also orients itself to itself.

Primary Tension of Tuckman’s Theory

Firstly, group member feels social unease and stiffness that accompanies the getting-acquainted stage in a new group. They become overly polite with one another. Additionally, members don’t interrupt one another. They often speak softly and avoid expressing strong opinions also talk less and provide little in the way of content.

How to Solve the Tension?

Firstly, the members should be positive and energetic so that other members build positive attitudes toward them. Secondly, smile and Laugh at others when interacting with them. Additionally, nod in agreement and exhibit enthusiasm, because it is a very useful non-verbal cue to hold effective interactions. Group member also should be patient and open-minded knowing that certainly, the primary tension will decrease with time. Finally, Be prepared and informed before your first meeting so you can help the group focus on its task.

2. Storming Stage of Tuckman’s Theory: (Power Struggle)

Storming is the second stage of Tuckman theory of Group Development. Group members become argumentative also emotional. The most confident members begin to compete for both social acceptance and leadership. Many groups try to skip this stage in order to avoid competition and conflict Conflict is necessary to establish a climate in which members understand the value of disagreeing with one another. The conflicts among group members are also known as noise in communication.

  • Conflict ⇒ cohesion dialectic.
  • Leadership ⇒ follower ship dialectic.
Secondary Tension in Tuckman’s Theory

Firstly, frustrations and personality conflicts experienced by group members as they compete for acceptance and achievement within a group. Members have gained enough confidence to become assertive and even aggressive as they pursue positions of power and influence. They gain a high level of energy and agitation. The group become noisier, more dynamic, and physically active in this stage of group development. Usually, members start to speak in louder voices, interrupting and overlapping one another so that two or three people may be speaking at the same time. Members sit up straight, lean forward, or squirm in their seats. Finally, everyone is alert and listening intently.

How to Solve the Tension?

Making jokes is very important to avoid tension in the second stage of Tuckman theory. They should work outside the group setting to discuss the personal difficulties and anxieties of group members.

3. Norming Stage of Tuckman’s Theory: (Cooperation)

Norming is the third stage of Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Group Development Theory. Actually, members start learning to work as a cohesive team and task-oriented. They start developing “rules of engagement”. However, they feel more comfortable with one another and are willing to disagree and express opinions – communication becomes open. Finally, a feeling of trust and clear goals emerge inside the group.

4. Performing Stage of Tuckman’s Theory: (Synergy)

Performing is the fourth stage of Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Group Development theory. Members become fully engaged and eager to work at this stage. Members adjust and adapt to the situation and also start solving critical problems. In this stage, the group identity, loyalty, and morale are generally high. However, disagreements do occur, but members usually resolved intelligently and amicably. Finally, Interaction patterns reflect virtually no tension; rather, the members are jovial, loud, boisterous, laughing and verbally backslapping each other”.

5. Adjourning Stage of Tuckman’s Theory: (Closure)

Adjourning refers to the fifth stage of Tuckman’s 5 Group Development Theory. Members have usually achieved their common goal and may begin to disband. It also represents whether the group members will work together or form a new group. Finally, they are happy for what they have achieved but feel a sense of loss when the group dissolves.

  • Disband = confront relational issues (For example, how to retain friendships with other members).
Advantages and Disadvantages / Pros and Cons  of Tuckman Theory
Advantages or Strengths of Tuckman Theory

Firstly, Tuckman theory clarifies the specific stages of any group and team discussion, for instance, the 5 stages of group development are forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Tuckman theory helps to understand more about primary and secondary tension. It also recommends how to reduce these tensions to active the group. It is very important to decline the tension among the group because these tensions obstacle to achieving the group goal. Additionally, it strengthens the relationship among group members and motivates them to be productive. Finally, Tuckman’s group developing theory shows the perfect way of solving group uncertainty issues as well as gain interdependent goal successfully.

Disadvantages or Limitation of Tuckman Theory

Tuckman’s Theory consists of five important stages that really difficult to maintain one by one. Group members need to follow different instructions at every stage to maintain effective communication and a good relationship with group members. Additionally, there is no specific and instant solution that can solve all conflicts in group communication although suggested some recommendations to reduce conflicts. Furthermore, Tuckman theory did not mention what would have happened if the storming stage had not been ended. Finally,  Tuckman theory has been failed to discuss why the group change over time.

Citation for this Article (APA 7th Edition)

Kobiruzzaman, M. M. (2021, January 30). Tuckman Theory of Communication, Advantages and Disadvantages. Educational Website For Online Learning. https://newsmoor.com/tuckmans-model-five-stages-of-group-and-team-development-theory/

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