Carefully Critique Your Team’s Work

Posted by Kristin Arnold on October 5, 2021

At the close of each meeting, conduct a quick, short critique.  On a flipchart or whiteboard, draw a line down the middle to make two columns.  At the top of the left column, write a plus sign and a delta sign on the right column.  

Team Critique

What Went Well?  Ask the team to think about what went well.  List members’ answers under the “plus” column.  Teams typically comment on their progress, team participation, the process used, or meeting logistics.  When all ideas are exhausted, thank the group for the positive feedback.  Encourage the team to keep up the good work!

Done Differently?  Next, look to the “deltas” or things the team would have done differently.  Notice the phrasing; it is much more positive and upbeat than asking the team to identify the negatives or “what we did wrong.”  List the deltas without commenting on them.  You may have to be patient….  Many team members may be uncomfortable giving team feedback initially, but, when they recognize the value of the critique, will open up.

Preventions.  Wait for all the deltas to go up on the board, and then ask the team what they can do to prevent the deltas from happening again.  Some items might be one-time occurrences, and the team will agree that nothing needs to be done.  Other items may require action from the team.  Agree on what that action is, who will do it, and by when.  

For example, “fewer side conversations” was recorded as a “do differently.”  Ask, “What might we do to prevent side conversations at our next session?”  There will be a flurry of responses, and the team will settle down to a quick, simple solution such as add “no side conversations” to the ground rules.

Thank ’Em!  Quickly thank the team for taking the time to critique its teamwork, reinforcing the strengths, and taking action on areas for improvement.  Ask for any final comments and adjourn the meeting.

For Team Leaders: If you are leading the team, don’t be defensive during the critique.  Avoid attempting to explain why you did what you did, but feel free to ask questions for clarification or for specifics.  After the meeting, take a few minutes to conduct your own personal critique (have your co-leader or facilitator join you).  

Ask: Did we achieve our intended results?  Did we use or follow an effective process?  Did we work well together?  Overall, what worked well, and what could we have done differently?  

Compare your impressions with the team’s critique.  Look for patterns or trends.  One contrary comment certainly should be considered, but if there were several contrary comments (regardless of the reasoning), take a closer look.

Based on the critiques, identify one skill, behavior, tool, or technique you think could enhance the quality of the team’s work.  Develop a personal action plan as well as a measure of your success.  After all, you want to know whether your actions improved your teamwork!


KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action. Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.

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Photo by Smartworks Coworking on Unsplash

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

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