Coaching Teams

Coaching Teams

​Coaching teams helps teams achieve a common purpose while developing team culture and building team productivity. Tuckman (1965) proposed a group development model with four stages commonly known as Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. This model describes a linear group development process. This paper will describe coaching a team regarding Tuckman’s group development stages. Also, it will address how each stage differs from the other.


​The first stage of Tuckman’s group development model is Forming. It is a pivotal stage in the overall emotional intelligence of the team (Druskat & Wolff, 2018). During this phase, the team is getting acclimated to each other. Through intrapersonal exploration, team members are encouraged to establish common ground. This small group orientation becomes helpful to start building mutual trust and setting a common goal. Trust contributes to the success of the team. A lack of trust can disrupt the team’s performance and focus (Nalepa, 2019).

​Team coaching challenges the coach to develop key trust relationships: team-to-coach, member-to-member, and team-to-organization (Ting & Scisco, 2006). The coach must keep these relationships in balance. When the coach understands what each member contributes to the team, it provides valuable insight into the nature of the relationships with the team (Wotruba, 2016). This insight can give guidance when conflicts happen within the team. Team-building exercises such as role-playing and 360-degree feedback assessments can help build group trust and increase team participation (Druskat & Wolff, 2018; Kets De Vries, 2005). Team building activities also allow team members to grapple with others’ perspectives (Druskat & Wolff, 2018).In addition to establishing trust with the team, the team coach clarifies the goal and provides structure (Smolska, 2021). 


​As teams work together, intragroup conflict may arise. During the Storming stage, there may be conflicts between each team member’s natural working styles. These disagreements can stress and strain the team’s dynamic and impact group productivity. It is critical that the team acknowledge and mitigate differences to promote positive team cohesion.

​The team’s coach should create a safe space for members to share their opinions without judgment and feel comfortable calling out disruptive behavior (Druskat & Wolff, 2018; Toegel & Barsoux, 2016). To create a safe space, the team coach must be able to establish norms that encourage caring behavior and mutual respect for each group member. Through the trust exercises in the Forming stage, team members gain interpersonal understanding and perspective that enables them to gain a sense of identity with their fellow teammates (Druskat & Wolff, 2018).


​The Norming stage has less conflict and more team cohesion. Tuckman (1965) refers to this as the “patching up” phase. In this stage, the team begins to resolve its own conflicts without the guidance of the coach. It is here where ingroup consciousness develops and group cohesion emerges. Team members seek feedback from inside and outside the team to confirm they have a broad sense of self-awareness (Druskat & Wolff, 2018).

​In this third stage, the team coach can begin to see the fruits of their labor. The team coach must resist intervening to enable the team to use the teambuilding and conflict resolution skills they have amassed from the previous stages to grow independently from the coach (Smolska, 2021; Ting & Scisco, 2006). The coach can use this opportunity to identify other areas of team growth. Ting and Scisco (2006) documented that a team coach should be committed to continuous learning, albeit developing the team as a whole or each member individually. 


​The final stage, Performing, is the finis to Tuckman’s original group development model. The team is stable and can accomplish tasks with little conflict or confusion. The team has internalized the norms established in the second stage, and the members are equipped to adapt to change. Interpersonal behaviors and differences are used to enhance the team’s performance.

​In this fourth stage, a team coach’s role is less functional than those in the primitive stages. Their role becomes limited to observation and consultation (Smolska, 2021). Through observation, the coach can identify patterns (Ting & Scisco, 2006). Combined with the individual assessments from the Forming stage, a coach can use patterns to develop norms that prevent the team from succumbing to internal pitfalls.


​Tuckman’s model provides a framework for team development. Through the vicissitude of group development, a team coach’s role should diminish while building the team’s behavioral, emotional, and cognitive skills. Effective and constructive team coaching enables teams to become highly productive and emotionally intelligent. It also allows teams to build skills to handle cross-functional conflicts and network with outside individuals. 


Druskat, V. U., & Wolff, S. B. (2018, December 28). Building the emotional intelligence of groups. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from

Kets De Vries, M. F. R. (2005). Leadership group coaching in action: The zen of creating high-performance teams. Academy of Management Perspectives19(1), 61–76.

Nalepa, J. (2019, March 12). Building Trust Within your team. Michigan State University. Retrieved May 29, 2022, from

Smolska, M. (2021). A team development process based on the high-performance team coaching model: A case study of team maturity management. Scientific Journals of the Maritime University of Szczecin67(139), 80–87.

Ting, S., & Scisco, P. (2006). The CCL handbook of coaching: A guide for the leader coach (1st ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Toegel, G., & Barsoux, J. (2016). How to preempt team conflict. Harvard Business ReviewJune, 79–83.

Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin63(6), 384–399.

Wotruba, S. (2016). Leadership team coaching; a trust-based coaching relationship. International Journal of Evidence-Based Coaching and MentoringS10, 98–109.

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