Taking a Good Team to Great!

Posted by Kristin Arnold on April 21, 2012

Just this past week, one of my clients asked, “If we could do only ONE thing to take our teams from good to great, what would you recommend we do?”

After a nanosecond of thought, I answered, “Do periodic critiques – set aside a bit of time for the team to reflect on what’s working well on the team and what they can work on to get better.”  In this way, the team reinforces the good and takes action to make things better.

There are a variety of methods to debrief:

  • Light meeting review.  A few short comments at the end of the meeting.
  • Plus/Delta.  List in two columns what was done well and what needs improvement.  The evaluation should include decisions on what will be done to improve the meeting next time and provides helpful feedback to the team.
  • In depth review.  A robust discussion of the +.
  • Off the cuff.  Evaluations occur not only at the end of the meeting as part of the meeting process, but they also occur spontaneously during the course of the meeting at periodic transition points such as the end of a discussion on a topic or after an activity.

There isn’t a “right way” or “wrong way” to give the team this needed feedback.  Many years ago, a client was implementing a quality program throughout the organization.  Since I trained over a hundred facilitators in these techniques, I urged the CEO to model effective teaming behaviors – including critiquing his own team meetings.  A few weeks later, I watched his leadership team get to the close of the meeting.  Paul growled, “Okay, gimme three good things we did today.”  The team listed three significant and insightful comments.  Then Paul growled, “Okay, gimme three things we can do better on…and make ’em good!”Try a technique from fellow facilitator Ellen Gottesdiener from her book,Requirements by Collaboration: Workshops for Defining Needs Draw a circle divided into the categories: Start, Stop, Continue, More of, and Less of.  Have the team list the things to start, stop, and continue doing.

You see, a newly formed team will pick easy comments such as “good interaction” and whine about the food, temperature, or facilities.  A high performing team will provide specific comments that take the team to a whole new level: “When Roger presented the strawman plan, we should have asked questions for clarification and let him finish his presentation before evaluating the merits of each element of the plan.”

It’s the small things, that when you add them up, one by one, the team gets incrementally better.

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