Adjourning Stage of Group Development: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:01 Five Stages of Group…
  • 0:56 The Adjourning Stage
  • 1:50 Legacy of Tuckman's Model
  • 3:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Donna Swarthout
The adjourning stage is the fifth stage of Bruce Tuckman's five stages of group development. In this lesson, learn about the definition and features of the adjourning stage.

The Five Stages of Group Development

In 1965, psychologist Bruce Tuckman proposed his original model of group development. This model suggests that groups and teams move through a series of stages in order to achieve their peak level of performance. The first four stages of the model are:

  • Forming (orientation and ice-breaking)
  • Storming (addressing conflicts and disagreements)
  • Norming (conflict resolution and consensus on how the group will function)
  • Performing (high level of cohesion and performance)

Tuckman, along with his colleague, Mary Ann Jensen, proposed a fifth stage of group development in 1977 called adjourning. In the adjourning stage, a group wraps up its work and then dissolves. The first four stages of group development are interesting in their own right, but this lesson will focus on the fifth, and final, stage.

The Adjourning Stage of Group Development

If a group has fulfilled its goals and objectives, it will move into the adjourning stage. This may happen rather quickly for a project-specific team. On the other hand, permanent groups can function for a long time without moving into the adjourning stage. Organizational developments such as a restructuring can also trigger movement into the adjourning stage.

At this stage it is important to achieve closure for the group on a positive note. Group members may feel a sense of loss and their motivation may decline when the group's work comes to an end. Some observers have even called this the mourning stage of group development. It is, therefore, important to recognize the group members for their accomplishments and celebrate the group's overall success. Members may also feel some uncertainty or insecurity about the future. Team leaders and managers can alleviate these feelings through appropriate plans for the transition.

The Legacy of Tuckman's Model

Tuckman's model describes the general stages that groups move through as they mature and develop. The 5-stage model reveals what happens from the time a newly formed group gets acquainted until the members become united in their pursuit of a commonly accepted goal. The group becomes better able to achieve the desired results as it moves through the stages. Keep in mind that the length of time for each stage will vary from group to group, and there is no firm line between the stages. However, each stage is necessary and inevitable in the development process.

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