Want to Build a Successful Real Estate Team? Use This 4-Phase Theory


Professionals interested in forming a team will likely take into account that the team, properly developed, will become one of the main assets they have.

In 1965, Dr. Bruce Tuckman, who studied group dynamics and educational psychology, published a theory titled, “Tuckman’s stages of group development.”

The theory listed four phases in building a team: forming, storming, norming and performing. He added a fifth phase, adjourning, in 1977.

Even though this theory is more than 50 years old, there is wisdom real estate team leads can gain.

  1. Forming

The first phase of a team is when it forms. The team lead and members get to know each other, both personally and professionally. They learn each other’s backgrounds, define roles and draft a plan.

As the leader, this is also the phase where the team lead can highlight and emphasize the team’s goals and objectives.

  1. Storming

Conflict can arise in this stage, according to the theory. It’s a necessary process in growth, and it isn’t something to avoid.

Perhaps one team member is upset they’re not getting more listings. Maybe another is upset about repeatedly doing the same task (i.e. marketing or hosting open houses), or not getting higher-priced listings.

The positive of this phase is that through conflict, Tuckman’s theory indicates that the team can build trust, with team members feeling more comfortable voicing differing opinions. Sometimes bumps in the road and healthy debate can bring a group closer together.

The team lead’s job is to maintain a growth mindset, and help the team resolve its differences while coaching members to come together to arrive at a solution.

To help advance through this stage, Tuckman lists some ways to create team cohesiveness including going to lunch or dinner together, spending an hour doing ice-breaker/get-to-know-you activities, or having a half-day or full-day workshop to brainstorm new ways to drive success together.

  1. Norming

This is the phase when team members begin working toward a goal and having a team mindset. Members do what it takes to make the team function effectively, accept roles and even take a backseat in certain situations, if it’s best for the team.

Sharing opinions becomes more common, while listening to and understanding differences of opinion is more valued. Simply put: in this stage, working as a team begins to feel natural.

It’s common to see team members taking steps to resolve conflicts and make decisions themselves. Team leads might be left out of the day-to-day decision-making and problem solving as team members begin to take on more responsibility within the group.

Problems and chaos can still happen. As the leader, it’s important not to ignore signals. Sometimes hopping in provides a coaching opportunity. But, in this phase, a successful team is likely getting better at working together.

  1. Performing

It goes without saying that reaching this phase may signal huge progress.

Teams that are performing are likely characterized by high output, effective group dynamics, smooth interactions and the ability to make decisions without direct supervision.

Still, it’s important for the team leader to continue actively participating with the team. This not only allows them to be present and know what’s going on, but also helps establish their role as a leader who is interested, invested and accessible.

  1. Adjourning

This phase was added a dozen or so years after the theory was first put forth, and isn’t necessarily the desired end result, but it could mean team members feel empowered to consider branching out and forming their own teams. If this happens, consider it a sign of a job well done, with the team leader having likely provided a healthy growth environment.

If you’re looking for tools that can help your real estate team succeed, consider the mix of ShowingTime+ products like Listing Showcase® that can help get you powerful exposure on Zillow.





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