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Truckman Model

Forming; Storming; Norming; Performing (and Adjourning)

Truckman Model | What is it…

The Truckman Model (named after Bruce Truckman who developed the model) represents the four stages of team formation. The four stages are:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing

There is an additional 5th stage Adjourning which we will also cover. These five stages describe the process evolution of a team. It recognises that teams do not start off fully formed and functioning as they form from a group of individuals. This is true even of highly-skilled teams with strong drive and engagement.

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Tip!

For your project or team the quicker you can get people to performing the better the project / organisation will deliver.

Truckman Model | The Stages

Forming – The Bringing of people together

Often people at the beginning of a project are positive and they make an effort to get to know one another. The unknown at this stage can also cause people to be anxious, nervous and or sceptical of others, they may hold back sharing capability to keep the upper hand and ensure they have something positive to bring to the team or project.

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Tip!

As the leader you will playing a crucial role at this stage to make clear the expectations, roles and responsibilities.

Storming – People pushing against one another

In the Storming stage the differences in the way people work is brought to bear. Within a project team it is likely (and encouraged) that you have people with different skill sets. And though this is to be encouraged it is likely to be the cause of much friction. You may prefer a detailed and clear plan others may prefer to let things fly and see what happens. When you do not know people’s traits this can quickly escalate and cause significant issues – for your project/team you will want to leave this stage as quickly as possible. Many projects though fail to do so and this becomes their ultimate downfall.

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Tip!

It is normal in the early period for teams to go through up’s and down’s – it is how you lead through this that will make the difference. The following will help you to stay on track:

  1. Implement and establish clear structure and processes
  2. Work on team building to develop trust amongst team members
  3. Raise and deal with conflicsts – do not allow these to fester
  4. Be supportive

Norming – Acceptance of one another

The Norming stage is what it says on the tin. The project/team have begun to accept one-another, what each person brings to the table and the team/project lead is respected within their role. They know how to behave within this team, what their role is and the strengths and limitations of one another. They are now set-up to achieve which brings us on to the next stage.

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Tip!

Be conscious that though the team are now starting to make good headway, the introduction of new tasks can see them fall back into the storming stage. Some steps to follow at this stage:

  1. Support team members to take on responsibility for goal delivery
  2. Recognise the good progress being made
  3. Be mindful as new tasks are introduced the team may fallback and present issues, if they do then deploy the same steps as the Storming stage

Performing – Delivering with clear focus on task

Now the team are on the same page delivery will get into full swing. More delegation can now happen and the team can focus on their individual strengths. The trick is to get to this stage as quickly and efficiently as possible, as it is when the team are high performing.

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Tip!

As a leader you can now be less hands-on in the day to day activity as the team are focused (with clear roles), motivated and knowledgeable. At this stage the focus should be on:

  1. Delegating tasks and activities
  2. Providing the team with the ‘airspace’ required to deliver and develop
  3. Ensuring clear escalation routes for when you are needed to be called upon
  4. Taking a more strategic view and considering wider objectives and delivery

Adjourning – Breaking up and re-forming

The Adjourning stage is when the project/ task completes and the team break-up and move on to new projects or return to their BAU activity.

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Tip!

Adjourning – is an often overlooked item when closing down a project, resetting a team’s focus or bringing together multiple teams. At this stage:

  1. Be sure to celebrate success
  2. Be mindful that this in itself can create uncertainty amongst the team and thus must be handled sensitively

Truckman Model FAQ’S

What are the timeframes for each stage?
In short there are no assigned/recommended time frames for each stage within the Truckman Model.

This is one of the criticisms sometimes labelled at the model. However, the point is:

  • To recognise of each of the stages
  • To act accordingly during each different stage
  • To progress to the Performing stage as quick as possible

In addition, every team and organisation will be more or less complex so a time-frame would be somewhat arbitrary.

When was Adjourning added to the Truckman Model?
The Adjourning stage was added to the Truckman Model around 1975
Truckman Model Infographic

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