Drexler/Sibbet Model for Team development and project management

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Team development is the process through which a group is formed in order to achieve the goal of giving life to a successful project. Despite the skills of every member of the team, it is of great importance for it to reach high standards of teamwork and collaboration. There are different approaches and methods that can be implemented in forming a team and make it develop and work in a positive way.

This article investigates the method that Drexler and Sibbet proposed. Following a process of seven consecutive steps, teams can work together, achieve their goals, and finally make a positive impact to the development of a company and, eventually, even society. Each step matters and plays its role into transforming a group of good experts into a team that is setting goals and managing projects, programs or portfolios. [1]

Drexler Sibbet model from the grove page.PNG

Allan Drexler and David Sibbet suggested a team performance model with seven steps. Steps 1 to 4, describe the number of stages that need to take place in creating a project team. Through steps 5 to 7, they analyze project team sustainability and performance. [2] [3]

Model Description

Step 1: Orientation.

Why is this team formed?

First and foremost, it is of vital importance for the scope of the project to be clarified during the first meeting of the new team. Everybody needs to have in mind the reason behind forming the team and the final goal to which the team is heading to.

Step 2: Trust building.


Through this stage, every team member finds out his/her colleagues, their skills and specific roles that they are going to serve during the project.

Step 3: Goal clarification.


This is when the analysis is taking place. The team is expected to take into account every available information regarding the project.The stakeholders of the project are analysed, since their influence may play a significant role while doing the project. The dates for the assignments are clarified, in addition to all the criteria that need to be specified before the kick-off of the project.

Step 4: Commitment.


In this stage the team is starting to plan the way it is going to operate moving forward, so as to achieve the final goal. After a -as detailed as possible- planning, the team needs to come up with a total budget, needed for the project to be carried out.

Step 5: Implementation.

The team is starting to work towards bringing the deliverables and meeting the specific timelines of the plan.

Step 6: High performance.

The members of the team have managed to perform in a way that is very sufficient. This, though, is something that does not happen in every team. There are a lot of teams that have managed to do successful projects without working in such high levels. However, in this model everything is analysed in a way that there is serious likelihood for a team to perform in a high level.

Step 7: Renewal.

In this stage, the team examines the performance of every team member and the methods that were followed and proposes changes that can lead to even more sufficient group work.

Practical Approach

Formulating a team is a process that takes energy, time and needs everybody involved into finding common grounds. [4] This model is a step to optimizing the workflow of a team. [3]

Orientation is about understanding the purpose of a team and assessing what it will mean to be a member. It takes great management skill in order for a company to get every member (especially a new member) into a position of understanding where he/she belongs and what are the goals ahead. 'Invoving' is the key word behind any possible change during a project or generally a protocol of the company. The involvement of every employee will lead to a situation of understanding and finally accepting the change in a beneficial way for the whole organization.

The employee needs to understand the reason the team exists, what will be expected of him/her and how he/she will benefit from membership. In a new team, individual concerns exist, because the group is only potentially, and after certain steps, a team. That is why these concerns are illustrated as occurring in their imagination at an intuitive level. As a team leader it is important to provide time and space for people to answer these internal questions themselves.

During the step of orientation, it is important to exclude any sign of fear or misunderstanding among the employees. When orientation challenges are resolved, every employee has a clear view of the purpose and identity of the team and feels trully a member of a group that is trying to become a team.

Trust is a measure of the willingness and respect that somebody shows while working together with others for something important. Every team member has to depend on each other to be successful, which means that trust is essential in direct relation to how much cooperation is needed to get the job done. In the beginning, trust involves some risk and uncertainty about dealing with strangers. This is why the key questions is “Who?”, regarding the identity and skillset of the members of the group, or “What will you expect from me?”. For a team to work well, everybody needs to accept that he/she can depend on team members to work together to accomplish the team’s purpose. When trust challenges are resolved the group members feel mutual regard, forthrightness and rely on one another for the accomplishment of future tasks. Failing to accomplish this second step of the team-building process will lead to a problematic situation where the members may show mistrust on one another that eventually will lead to insecurity or even conflict.

Goal Clarification. Companies have precise charters that specify what every team is responsible for accomplishing. Starting from Portfolios, that are consisted of programs with many specified projects. More often, the teams are given a broad mandate and need to make choices about how they will pursue that mandate and translate it into goals. “What are we doing?” is a more specific question than the larger and general question of purpose asked during Orientation. During this stage of the new team's life, they will need to do research and develop clear understanding of the job that is required, as well as generate agreements about goals and specific deliverables. During this step, the team formulates a shared vision on the development of the project and sets clear integrated goals. Problems during this step may be revealed through apathy or skepticism amongst some employees.

Commitment. After setting clear goals, the team is probably ready to get into a situation of acting and fulfilling assignments. Attention moves to the question: “How will we do it?”

This means committing to a specific course of action, making decisions about resources, and being clear about roles. The initial stages of team performance might require backtracking to goals, investing more in trust development, and revisiting initial purpose before the group can fully resolve commitment issues.

While the team turns toward implementation, everyone wants to be clear about roles and responsibilities. These are aspects that may have been considered during stage three planning. Now, every member needs to commit to what their function, authority, and responsibilities will be in practice. Role definitions have to be complete enough to cover all the tasks that must be done to accomplish the team goals while minimizing overlaps and role conflicts. A big part of team leader's job is to help match goals to competencies, and help people step into roles that will develop their abilities and improve results for the team.

In addition to role clarity, your team must deal with another constraint – how to provide for and deploy its limited resources, including for example time and funding. These hard choices usually involve setting aside some useful tasks, because the resources are not available to support them. Indecision and lack of proper and structured preparation in this area, breeds confusion and stalls work. For virtual teams, decisions about tools and communication platforms are essential at this stage, since they may have to negotiate with the larger organization to get the kind of tools and support they need.

Finally, a team needs to get clear about how decisions are going to be made. For example, some questions occur regarding the authority and whether it will be shared or not, as well as the way through which the members stay in touch with one another. In a dynamic work environment where plans can change frequently, decisions about course corrections are common and need to be taken fast, minimizing the risk of making mistakes. Thinking in advance how these will be handled moves the team’s focus more productively toward implementation and high performance.

Implementation involves scheduling and sequencing work over time.

The key question is “Who does what, when and where?”

Proper and structured preparation leads to a visible schedule, strategy, and/or process that offers the team the opportunity to move into action confidently. Conflicts and confusion arise when there is commitment but not a clear plan on moving forward. Every member will have a clear vision of the implementation of the project, which benefits the team in multiple ways, from meeting the deadlines to realising possible mistakes in time. Everybody feels a part of the team and offers his/her services in a disciplined way. Problems during this step lead to conflict that increases the possibility of missing deadlines and eventually failing to reach the team's goals.

High Performance.

The team reaches a state where it has mastered its processes and begins to experience the ability to change goals quickly as well as achieve them without any delay. This model has this situation in its core as the ideal situation that every team should try to achieve. The employees can feel it when it happens and observe its effects, however without necessarily controlling it. Teams achieve a flow state when trust is high and people have mastered their roles. In a state of high performance, boundaries and individual limits soften, everything moves together, and everyone responds as if they are part of the whole. The indicators of that having happened are spontaneous interaction, synergy, and a team that is surpassing their expectation on results.

When a team is blocked at this stage, some members may show overload, meaning that they are made to do more than others for the project to be carried out. A situation that leads to disharmony, a constant situation of trying to meet the deadlines and eventually poor group work that makes a failure more probable than a success.


Over time the conditions that initially set a team in motion are meant to change.High Performance is demanding. “Why continue?” is the key question that reminds us that team performance is an ongoing process, and must be renewed by returning to Stage 1. The team members need to reassess if the work is still needed, worthwhile, and has some personal value and meaning. Spending time on Renewal puts the team back in touch with meaning and purpose and refreshes everyone’s commitment to keep going. It also includes learning from what they have accomplished, and building a repertoire of best practices for the next journey on this or other teams.

If the team’s work is completed, Renewal is the time to wrap things up, freeing members to move on to new challenges. The beginning of something new will probably mean that there is a need for people with different skillsets, new members that will need time to adjust to the new environment.

A successful renewal step leads to a team which members celebrate their achievements and have the ability and faith to adjust in changes and reach their collective goals. Everyone contributed, the team worked as a whole and now they all have strong confidence as a team for next challenges.

Reflections & Conclusion

Drexler/Sibbet model describes the process stages through which a team is formulated and grows from being a group of skilled people into a functional and effective team that delivers difficult tasks. It is a 7-step model, that requires, first of all, every member of the team to realize the purpose of the team. Then all of them need to get into a situation of understanding and having trust in one another and obtaining group-work skills and competencies that will contribute to achieve goals and be effective as a team. Following the steps, the team prepares a structured plan that helps every member to envision the implementation of the project. There is an ideal goal of reaching a "high performance" state, where the team is working as a whole to complete the assignments in time and finally succeed. The model provides a good understanding of team development. It is a useful tool in training people to adjust in team environments and boost their performance. It is a model that leads to a team that works in the most productive way.


  1. [Image of the Drexler/Sibbet Model] https://www.thegrove.com/methodology/team-performance-model
  2. [A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide) – 7th Edition and The Standard for Project Management - Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model. (pp. 14). Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI)] https://app.knovel.com/hotlink/pdf/id:kt012LZKY8/guide-project-management/drexler-sibbet-team-performance
  3. 3.0 3.1 [A model for team-based organization performance, Russ Forrester and Allan B. Drexler] https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/ame.1999.2210313
  4. [Using the Drexler/Sibbet Model] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d2JPIl_oBw&ab_channel=HartfordFoundation
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