TM 423 This Module's Case develop a successful project team. The core case a description actual team development situation: Poole, C. (2003). Three-week project turnaround. Retrieved http://c2./cgi/wiki-ThreeWeekProjectTurnaround http://www.
Why so many project teams fail, how to help them succeed 'Teamwork' is one of the most common buzzwords in corporate lingo today yet creating a fully functional team can be extremely hard work. The process of team development presents challenges at every step of the process and requires a differentiated approach amongst the leadership. Bruce Tuckman has called his model of team development: 'forming, storming, norming, and performing.' "Tuckman's model explains that as the team develops maturity and ability, relationships establish, and the leader changes leadership style. Beginning with a directing style, moving through coaching, then participating, finishing delegating and almost detached" (Chapman 2009). Over the course of team development, leaders must adjust their style to the needs of the team. However, proceeding through the Tuckman stages is not always a linear process. When setbacks occur, teams may devolve and fall back to earlier stages, moving from performing back to storming.
However, even before the Tuckman process is underway, the first challenge of team leadership is assembling the people. "The best project teams include stakeholders at all levels, from executives to those individuals at the front line" (Flynn & Mangione 2011). All too often it is easy to forget that it is people that are the core foundation of any team. Particularly in IT, there can be a focus on technical skills to the point that the need to harmonize personalities is set aside. Teams must be assembled with consideration to 'people' as well as processes. A good team will possess members able to relate well to one another, yet have sufficient diversity so that 'groupthink' or overly homogenous decision-making does not result. And it is also essential that teams are oriented to each member's different working styles.
The first step of team development is called 'forming' in the Bruce Tuckman model of team development and it is a process just as integral to the eventual success of the team as the actual execution phases. Team members must get to know one another -- this may include having members taking a personality inventory such as the Myers-Brigg to better assess their different interpersonal styles, setting rules for team functioning, and talking about what worked and what did not work on previous teams. Often there is "little trust, shared vision, or peer accountability" at this stage (Six characteristic stages of team development: The project life cycle, 2011, PM Hut). Group members may be wary because of previous bad experiences, or they may view participation in a team as a self-interested exercise. This is a testing process, and the leader often feels he or she needs to take a directive approach. During the forming stage there is "high dependence on leader for guidance and direction. Little agreement on team aims other than received from leader" (Chapman 2009).
There is some dispute regarding the best way to manage a team. Although Tuckman advocates a more democratic process as the team gets to know one another, and views autonomous functioning as the ultimate goal of team development, other authors see the need for singularly-directed leadership. "Identifying an individual within the organization to serve as the project manager and single point of contact throughout the project is important. This individual is the liaison through which all communications pass, thus maintaining a communication structure. The project manager remains involved throughout the duration of the project and is ultimately accountable for all project details and deliverables" (Flynn & Mangione 2011). Having a strong leader can create an atmosphere of accountability and focus, and even the most motivated team members may not necessarily agree upon a common goal, without leadership. However, while the goal may need to be defined, "if there are a lot of options or flexibility in how the goal is achieved, teams are more likely to find innovative approaches to reach a goal" (Six characteristic stages of team development: The project life cycle, 2011, PM Hut).
Communicating to team members early on that they have an investment in the final, collective outcome and their opinion is truly valued requires a more expansive approach than one which is purely directional. Once again, the leader must use his judgment: for an inexperienced team with a complex task, less autonomy may be desirable, while for a team of seasoned veterans, too much direction may be viewed as a patronizing attitude. Ideally, "whenever possible the leader should let the group establish its own tasks and make its own decisions because an autocratic leadership style will keep the work group from forming into a team" (Six characteristic stages of team development: The project life cycle, 2011, PM Hut). While certain aspects of the project, such as deadlines, may need to be established early on, the steps to reach these short-term goals are best left open to debate if the team can be trusted to work together.
The second stage, according to Bruce Tuckman, is that of 'storming,' or when group members jockey for position. During this stage, uncertain goals and the desire for many members of the team to assume leadership (or, conversely, a lack of energy and leadership) come to the forefront. In this stage, "timely, accurate, useful and credible communication is critical to maintaining a cohesive team environment and achieving project success" (Flynn & Mangione 2011). While "clarity of purpose increases but plenty of uncertainties persist. Cliques and factions form and there may be power struggles" (Chapman 2009). At this juncture, the leader must often undertake a 'coaching' capacity -- team members are responsible for their specific tasks, but may need to consult with the leader to manage conflicts.
Keeping in contact through frequent virtual communication, and meeting on a regular basis face-to-face is essential, to reduce the risk of interpersonal conflicts. Conflict is a natural part of the work process, but it should not tip over into unhealthy conflict and balkanization between group members -- but nor should it be avoided, resulting in stasis. Ideally, at this juncture, the leader can identify why conflict has occurred to address the root of the concern. "Conflict may arise early because of discussions around ground rules, goals, priorities, resources, or the activities the members need to perform" ( Six characteristic stages of team development: The project life cycle, 2011, PM Hut). At this early stage of team development, the project leader still must take a fairly directive approach to mediating conflicts.
The leader must be trusted by the group for the group to emerge from this stage effectively. If the leader is viewed as biased and self-interested, the level of trust amongst the group will be low, and they will look for another source of leadership. The leader must set into place processes for dealing with conflict which can hopefully be implemented by the group itself later on. Discussing conflict management tools may be useful at this point in time.
The third stage of the Tuckman model, 'norming,' is when conflicts can be managed and handled in a more productive fashion. "Agreement and consensus...respond well to facilitation by leader. Roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted. Big decisions are made by group agreement" (Chapman 2009). At this point, Tuckman suggests that the leader delegate more responsibilities to group members, as a way of building trust, and acting as a facilitator more than a director. "The leader will know that the team is moving towards commitment and community when the members begin helping others, mentoring, or assisting each other in activities" ( Six characteristic stages of team development: The project life cycle, 2011, PM Hut). The leader stresses the value of collaboration: "To achieve success, project team…