The Harvard Study of Adult Development has followed the lives of two generations of individuals from the same families for more than eighty years. And the results from that study were just published in the book, The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger, MD and Marc Schulz, Phd.

The secret to happiness? It all boils down to the relationships – that “good relationships keep us happier, healthier, and help us live longer.”

All of this could have been said in an article; BUT the joy of reading this book is the stories, anecdotes, and correlational studies that bring this thesis to life.
Most importantly, you start to take stock of all the relationships you have in your life – the strong ties you have as well as the “weak” ties – and how you engage and direct your energy. It’s not the end result but the process – the journey.

The authors say at the end, recognize “that the good life is not a destination. It is the path itself, and the people who are walking it with you. As you walk, second by second you can decide to whom and to what you give your attention. Week by week you can prioritize your relationships and choose to be with the people who matter. Year by year you can find purpose and meaning through the lives that you enrich and the relationships you cultivate.

By developing your curiosity and reaching out to others – family, loved ones, coworkers, friends, acquaintances – even strangers – with one thoughtful question at a time, one moment of devoted, authentic attention at a time, you strengthen the foundation of a good life.

And that is priceless inspiration.


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Last week, I shared some thoughts about team assessments which is a snapshot in time about how the team is doing.  But what about metrics you can use on an ongoing basis? At the very least,

You should be measuring your team on three levels:

  • Team Performance.  Are the team’s products and/or services meeting their key stakeholders’ expectations? (e.g. increase sales, reduce customer complaints, reduce cycle time).  Are they achieving their goals?
  • Team Process.  Is the team becoming more competent at its work? (e.g. making decisions, holding meetings, creating outputs, effecting change).  Is the team “healthy” as defined by the team and the organization?  Are they using effective and efficient processes to accomplish the work?
  • Individual Growth.  Are the individual team members contributing, learning, and growing together as they are serving on the team?  Do they enjoy working together?

For each of these three areas, agree on the team’s goals and a vital few measures to track progress.  These measures must be easily quantified (numbers of or percentage of) and can be:

  • Objective (e.g. financial, cycle time).
  • Subjective (e.g. behavioral or observable).

Once the team agrees on what it will measure, agree on who is going to measure, how they will measure, and how often they will measure it.  Don’t forget to use technology to your advantage!

Set up an easy way to communicate progress such as a trend chart.  The horizontal or x-axis is time (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly) and the vertical or y-axis is the unit of measure (performance, process or growth).

On the trend chart, plot four points:

  • Establish a baseline (where we are now).
  • The goal (where we want to be).
  • Whether the measure should be increasing or decreasing (I like to use a thumb up or down).
  • The “benchmark” or how the best-in-class performs, if known.

Keep these charts visible for all team members to see.  Review your goals and metrics often.  What seemed reasonable yesterday may not resonate in today’s changing marketplace.

The best team metrics support the overall organizational mission and vision.  They reflect the team’s added value.  Key stakeholders and team members are involved in the process.  The team has control over what is measured and how it is measured.  The metrics are viewed as a vehicle for continuous improvement.

Related Articles: 

9-Step Team Assessment of Team Effectiveness

What’s the Difference Between Team Mission and Team Vision?

Employee Feedback Faux-Pas: Performance Appraisal Findings

A client recently asked me if there is a way to assess the effectiveness of her team.  Interesting question!

First, let’s start with a simple definition of team effectiveness.  The team:

  • Attains its goal(s)
  • Uses an effective and efficient process
  • Enjoys working together

All three conditions are necessary for effective teamwork.  If the team gets along and fails to achieve its objective, or if the team accomplishes the goal, but members end up despising each other, the team has not been as effective as possible.

There are myriad formal and informal team assessment tools that you can purchase “off the shelf.”  (My personal favorite is Human Synergistics‘ Group Styles Inventory (GSI)). In the event you decide to use one of these instruments, follow these steps to maximize the experience.

9-Step Team Assessment:

  1. Know Why.  It seems obvious, but why are you assessing the team’s work?  Team assessments are meant to be used as constructive feedback to the team to reinforce what is working well and to provide insight into areas for improvement.  It should not be used as a performance management tool.
  2. Know What is Important.  Clarify the behaviors valued by the organization and the team.  You may find a difference between what they currently value and what they should value based on the organization’s strategic direction.  This discussion can get really interesting and will help validate why the organization thinks teamwork is important.
  3. Select an Instrument, based on importance, ease of use, type of data generated, and cost.  Or, if you are adventurous, cobble your own assessment by taking from the “best of the best.”  Questionnaires are the most common sources of information as they keep the measurement process relatively simple and produce quantifiable and repeatable data.
  4. Prepare.  Consider how the assessment will be distributed, how it will be returned, how to guard anonymity, and who will process the information.  There are several software programs that will allow you to do these types of assessments online and will compile and summarize the data.  Be sensitive to how the team will receive the news that they are going to be assessed.  It could be perceived negatively.
  5. Complete the Assessment.  Give the team members the instrument as well as a written cover letter/email that includes why the assessment is being done, instructions, the deadline for returning the assessment, and a meeting date to present the results and next steps.
  6. Collect and Summarize the Data.  Have more than one member of the team involved or an independent consultant as some might feel the collector (especially if it is the team leader) could misinterpret or misuse the data.  Organize the information into a format that presents the results concisely and visually.
  7. Interpret the Data.  Have the team meet to agree on the team’s strengths and opportunities for improvement.  Spend some time savoring and celebrating the team’s strengths.  Then objectively look at how the team can get even better.
  8. Create a Plan.  Develop a plan to improve the team’s work with specific action items including who is going to do what and by when.  Agree on how the team will follow up on its commitments.
  9. Identify Next Steps.  Consider the first assessment to be a “baseline” of the team’s work.  Agree to check the team’s progress periodically to see if the team is becoming more effective. Agree on how often the team will be assessed.  Set a goal for where you would like to assess the effectiveness of the team next!

Related Articles:

Employee Feedback Faux-Pas: Performance Appraisal Findings

Goal Setting: 4 Major Elements to Getting What You Want 

Abolish the Dreaded Annual Performance Evaluation!


In my 30 years of being on and working with corporate and association boards, I find traditional board presentations to be increasingly tedious. Gone are the times when the CEO would brief the Board and then take questions.  We don’t have time for that.  To use your Board effectively, provide an overview of the contents in the Board presentation, and use the time to discuss strategic issues where the Board can add value to the business. Continue reading