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Project Management Training – Teamwork and Situational Leadership

Teamwork and Situational Leadership

If you are teaching Human Resource Management as part of your Project Management Training program, you undoubtedly cover Bruce Tuckman’s Teamwork Model. This model was added to the fourth edition of the PMBOK Guide, and it describes the stages of development that a team may go through. The model includes the following stages:

  1. Forming – During this stage, the team is just getting together. The team members are trying to figure out their roles and responsibilities on the project. Because this usually occurs during the earliest stages of the project, the team members do not know a lot about each other, and they are usually reserved and independent.
  2. Storming – During this stage, the team starts to do the actual work on the project; however, they are now trying to assert their positions in the project, which may lead to some conflict on the team. They are not working in a collaborative way, so they may have trouble respecting other team members’ opinions or ideas.
  3. Norming – During this stage, the team members realize that collaboration is a more effective way of accomplishing their goals. As such they begin to change the ways in which they work in order to support the needs of the entire team. The team members begin to trust one another.
  4. Performing – During this stage, the team has become a cohesive unit. They are able to work effectively together to accomplish the goals of the project. The team members are no longer working independently, but interdependently.

In addition to the Tuckman Teamwork Model, it might also be useful to introduce Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model. Whereas the Tuckman Teamwork Model describes the stages of development that a team may go through, the Situational Leadership Model describes how a manager can best serve the team during those stages. Situational Leadership includes the following styles of leadership:

  1. Directing – This style requires the project manager to provide a great deal of direction and supervision. Essentially, the project manager needs to tell the project team what to do. Then, the project manager needs to make sure the team actually does the work. This style is most useful during the Forming stage.
  2. Coaching – This style requires the project manager to still provide some direction; however, the project manager will now need to also mitigate some conflict. With this style, the project manager may seek out the input of the team. This style is most useful during the Storming stage.
  3. Supporting – This style enables the project manager to focus on motivation instead of direction. Once the team is capable of doing the work required for the project, the project manager will ensure that the team members remain confident and motivated. This style is most useful during the Norming stage.
  4. Delegating – This style enables the project manager to focus on high-level direction only. Decision making and the accomplishment of the project work will be done by the project team members. This style is most useful during the Performing stage.

As you are probably aware, there is another stage to the Tuckman Teamwork Model: Adjourning (or sometimes known as Mourning). This is when the project is complete, and the team members must come to accept that their work is done and that they must move on to other projects. What Situational Leadership style is best during this stage? Well, that depends. As the name indicates, it varies based on the situation. If the team members are struggling with coming to terms with the end of the project, a coaching style might be more effective. If they understand that the completion of the project is normal, yet they are lacking the motivation to close the project, a supporting style might be best.

The most important thing to keep in mind about these stages is that they can occur at any time during the project. The same is true for the styles. As a project manager, you need to recognize the stages when they occur and use the most appropriate style for that situation.

Scott Fabel

Scott Fabel is a senior corporate training consultant with Computer Aid, Inc. He has over 18 years of experience working with various Fortune 1000 companies on Help Desk Implementations, Microsoft Technologies, Business Analysis, and Project Management. This includes both consultative services and customized training programs. He is HDI certified, PMP certified, CBAP certified, and a MCT. Scott has been teaching others business skills, professional skills, and technical skills for more than 13 years. He is a faculty fellow at the University of Delaware and is currently pursuing his doctorate in education for which his dissertation will focus on the benefits of corporate training and mobile learning. He speaks three languages and was recently inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame. His communication skills, combined with his martial art skills, provide him with a unique combination for keeping his sessions informative, lively, and interactive.

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  1. Thanks so much for attending the Webinar! I am glad you enjoyed it, and you did a fantastic job with your review. Incidentally, your blog looks fantastic! I’m so glad to see that the CAI-U Faculty are using this as a tool Way to go!

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