by Gwyn Williams and Bruce Milroy

Stage 5: Adjourning (or retiring)

Tuckman’s final stage, adjourning, involves the termination of task behaviours and disengagement from relationships. It is a stage that is frequently reached by project teams, who have a limited lifespan. A planned conclusion usually includes recognition for participation and achievement, and an opportunity for members to say personal goodbyes.

Concluding a group can create some apprehension – in effect, a minor crisis. The termination of the group is a regressive movement, which raises anxieties ranging from giving up control to giving up inclusion in the group. The most effective interventions at this stage are those that facilitate task termination and the disengagement process.

When teams don’t go through a process of disengagement, members can often feel ‘unfinished’ and continue to encourage the old team to meet up and re-live the good times they had together.

Top tip

Take the time – and spend the money – to ensure that the team has an ‘event’ to recognise what they have collectively achieved, and to signpost the fact that the team is breaking up. The team will value your thoughts and praise as team leader as the task ends, and will also value the opportunity to say their goodbyes to each other as they move on to new challenges.