How Effective is Your Team?
When it comes to an organization’s team, it doesn’t matter if the employees are the brightest and best in the business. If they aren’t working together effectively as a team, then organizational performance suffers. There are many different ways to look at team effectiveness, and a whole collection of boxes to check and best practices to review, but it essentially comes down to five key questions. In a highly effective team, each member should be able to answer these five questions positively at any point in time:
1. Are we all headed in the same direction and pursuing the same goal?
Without a clear idea of the end goal, teams will scramble to do whatever they believe is right as individuals. When this occurs, it’s kind of like pulling a rope in two different directions – everybody is putting in a lot of energy to get nowhere fast. Having a clear definition of the mission, vision and goals of the organization, and a solid understanding about what tasks belong to whom, is a good place to start. Ensuring that the entire team’s goals and priorities are aligned, and that team members are committed and accountable for achieving those goals, is even better.
Team members shouldn’t be discouraged by mistakes, but should be encouraged to learn from them, and view them as opportunities to improve the team’s operations.
2. Do we work well together?
Clear and open communication, and good listening will ensure the team is always informed about what’s happening, what has changed, and what’s coming up in the organization. Communication also ties into the team’s ability to deal with conflicts in a professional, constructive and efficient manner. Finally, team members must be willing to collaborate with each other as well as with other teams in order to meet common goals.
3. Are we decisive, flexible and learning from the past?
Decision-making skills are crucial for success in a fast-paced world. Teams that are unable to make concise decisions in a timely fashion are only slowing themselves and the organization down. Flexibility means readily accepting and adapting to change. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. Companies who don’t adapt with the times disappear. Ongoing success means learning from the past and striving for continuous improvement. It’s essential to monitor the team’s effectiveness and be on the lookout for ways to increase productivity. Team members shouldn’t be discouraged by mistakes, but should be encouraged to learn from them, and view them as opportunities to improve the team’s operations.
You can’t improve what you don’t measure
4. Do we have the right team composition and climate?
Trust among team members is a central feature of the team climate. With trust comes honesty and respect, and it encourages team members to keep their commitments to one another and to take risks that benefit the team as a whole. Team members should be motivated by their job, comfortable in their environment, and overall should complement each other’s skills and styles.
5. Are we informed and well equipped?
The ability to be effective comes from many sources. While the individuals of the team are partially responsible, they will struggle if they have not been equipped with the appropriate resources, tools and processes. If necessary, the team should have good relationships with key external individuals and teams – this lateral collaboration can be a key resource for success. Ultimately, all team members should be receiving regular feedback and recognition for their work. It’s a well-known fact that feedback can increase productivity and motivation, and that’s partly because it helps the team to continually align and measure their goals to meet those of the company.
What to do with this information?
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. You may have heard this phrase before. In order to improve the effectiveness of your team, it isn’t enough to know the answers to these five questions. Team assessments allow organizations to analyze where their team is at and where they would like their team to be in order to pinpoint the places that need attention. For companies that are looking to invest in the development of their team, a team assessment is the first step towards ensuring that the investment is sound.