CategoriesCasesProject Team

Case: «Need to know»

Harald Seim has been a project manager for over ten years in an offshore company. He is known by his colleagues to be a tough leader, but at the same time also a person who gets things done. Harald believes that his employees should only receive the information they need to do their job, neither more nor less information.

He also thinks that generally, in projects, too much efficient working time is wasted by people who really have no business there participating in meetings to hear the latest developments. A well-known comment from Harald is that information to project members should only be given on a “need to know” basis.

Discuss how such an approach to both information and meeting participation affects the motivation of project participants.

An approach where information and meeting participation are limited to a “need to know” basis can have both positive and negative consequences for the motivation of project participants. Here are some factors to consider:

Positive effects on motivation:

  • Focus and efficiency: By limiting the information to the essentials, it can help employees focus on their specific tasks and achieve greater efficiency. They can avoid information overload that can distract and lead to loss of productivity.
  • Trust and responsibility: By limiting the information to only what is necessary, it can create a sense of trust between the project manager and employees. The employees are given responsibility for their tasks and feel that they have the trust of the manager to manage their part of the project.

Negative effects on motivation:

  • Lack of engagement: Limited information and limited participation in meetings can lead to a feeling of exclusion among project participants. This can reduce their engagement and involvement in the project, as they do not feel as relevant or important to the project’s progress.
  • Lack of understanding: Lack of access to relevant information can result in a limited understanding of the project’s entirety and overarching goals. This can reduce motivation and ability to contribute in a meaningful way, as the employees do not have a broader perspective on the project.
  • Reduced collaboration and communication: By limiting participation in meetings, it can create barriers to effective collaboration and communication between team members. Meetings provide the opportunity to share ideas, coordinate activities, and build relationships and limited participation can restrict these important aspects of project work.

It’s important to find a balance between limiting information and participation to the necessary while also ensuring that the employees feel involved, engaged and have a comprehensive understanding of the project. Communication and feedback are key factors in maintaining the motivation of project participants.

Identify and discuss three advantages and three disadvantages of the leadership style that Harald practices.

Harald’s leadership style, which involves limited information and limited participation in meetings, can have both advantages and disadvantages. Here are three advantages and three disadvantages of this leadership style:


  • Focus and Efficiency: By limiting the information to the essentials and restricting meeting participation to relevant participants, Harald can help maintain focus and efficiency among project participants. With fewer distractions, employees can more easily concentrate on their tasks and achieve better results.
  • Quick Decision Making: By limiting the information to what is necessary to do the job, Harald can contribute to faster decision making. Employees do not need to wait for unnecessary information or consult multiple people in meetings, which can contribute to increased agility and speed in project execution.
  • Sense of Trust and Responsibility: By giving employees only the information they need, Harald can help foster a sense of trust and responsibility among team members. The employees are given autonomy and trust to make decisions within their area of responsibility, which can boost their motivation and engagement in the project.


  • Lack of Engagement and Motivation: Limited information and participation can lead to lack of engagement and motivation among project participants. When they do not feel included or relevant in the project, it can affect their enthusiasm and energy, and ultimately reduce their contribution and the quality of their work.
  • Lack of Understanding and Wrong Decisions: Limited information can lead to a lack of understanding of the project’s entirety and overarching goals. This can result in wrong decisions or poor results, as the employees do not have sufficient insight into the context and the broader connections that affect their work.
  • Reduced Collaboration and Communication: Limited participation in meetings can restrict collaboration and communication among team members. Meetings provide an opportunity to share ideas, discuss challenges and build relationships, and limited participation can inhibit these important aspects of project work. This can lead to a loss of creativity, synergies and collective problem solving.

The effect of a leadership style can vary depending on the nature of the project, the composition of the team and individual preferences. A balanced approach that considers the need for information, participation and collaboration is crucial to achieving optimal motivation and success in the project.

This case is taken from the book “Prosjektledelse – fra initiering til gevinstrealisering” – 2016, 4. Edition, by Jan Terje Karlsen.

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