Storming Happens

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman identified the five developmental stages a team goes through: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning.

When you first join a group, whether it’s a team at work, a community project, or even becoming part of a family, you enter the act of forming. In my experience, whenever a person is added to or removed from a group or the group’s focus changes, this leads to a level of forming.

Next, begins the storming. This is my favorite phase!

Storming happens when people start learning how to work together. Forming is the “honeymoon phase.” When you have been together long enough, all the bad habits and ingrained patterns start to come out and cause friction.

Although storming can feel uncomfortable to some, it’s during this phase that the most growth happens. In my years of working as a Project/Program Manager, Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach (paired with my experience as a life and business coach), I’ve seen some pretty heavy storming. The teams who allowed themselves to get real and work through the tough stuff together were always the most successful teams.

In contrast, the teams that “played nice” rather than having frank conversations to cut through the crap, continued to bump up against the same issues over and over and never became high-performing teams. By avoiding the real issues, these teams enter a continuous loop of storming, norming, and back to storming because their norm is to storm.

If this resonates with you, perhaps it’s time to reflect on the real issues so the team can create some agreements for working together and start to move forward and grow.

The same approach works in life as well. When there’s a toxic dynamic at play, it’s often because people are avoiding conversations about the true issues.

Watch for upcoming posts that discuss ideas for healthy storming and how to get to norming and performing faster. By the way, I’m not a fan of adjourning unless it’s in the best interest of the team. More on that later.

All my best,

Paulie Skaja
your mindset muse 🙂

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