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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!