The strength of teams lies in their ability to achieve more as a group working together than as individuals working independently on various parts of a project or activity. The main obstacle to a team achieving the optimal performance level is the ability of the individual team members to work together collaboratively.
You can select the right team members based on the knowledge you need, the skills and competencies you need and the experience levels you need for a project. And the team performance can still be very disappointing if the team members do not communicate effectively, are not sharing information in a comprehensible way, and are not clear on how to coordinate with each other to avoid rework or waste their efforts working on the wrong items.
The success of a team is measured by more than one aspect. Examples include:
- Achieving project milestones and objectives
- Satisfied stakeholders
- How well team members are working together – getting more done with more innovation and inclusiveness in a shorter period of time
Phases of a team
Any team will go through developmental phases starting from the first day the team members spend together. If these phases are navigated successfully, they can help team members build a high level of trust which enables the team to achieve a high performance level. The leader of a team has an important role to play throughout the phases of team development to help the team achieve their goals in the most effective and efficient .
Measuring team outcomes
Setting out to measure the progress of a team’s efforts is simply about communicating and then monitoring KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) on a regular basis. KPIs are typically set around costs, time to completion, quality of the product etc.
Measuring the cohesion between team members and how well the team is functioning is not that simple. Every team member most likely has his or her own opinion of how well the team is functioning and where improvements may be needed. Team members also would have opinions about whose “fault” it may be that things are not better. The question is often whether it is a lack of knowledge, a lack of motivation or actually interpersonal conflicts and distrust which is contributing the most to dysfunctions.
Team effectiveness Check
Using this short team effectiveness check, is a great way for leaders to take a quick look at how each of the team members see the team at that moment in time and identify where discussions may be needed to clarify or remove issues that may be hampering team functioning.
The purpose of this quick survey is to gather input from the team on their own perspectives. Remember that a perspective is just how one person sees things at that moment in time. It does not mean that the perspective of one person holds true for the rest of the team. It is important though that you understand whether one or more team members are not feeling included, engaged or unable to contribute based on a lack of internal alignment with other team members on goals etc
As the team leader or team coach, ask your team members to fill this out maybe once a month – more often if you are going through a difficult phase as a team and you are concerned about how well things are going for each team member. I would not do this more than once per week.
Note that your team dynamics will most likely change when you add members, remove members or when your project enters a completely new phase of functioning and performance expectations. At those moments you are likely to see a decline in previously recorded good scores for team effectiveness and functioning.
Use this tool as a way to quickly diagnose where the team is at and use it as a starting point for some team or one-on-one discussions to address concerns raised. Include an external person to facilitate difficult team discussions if you feel it may be helpful – someone from HR/Learning and Development/team coach may be able to use their expertise and skills in group dynamics, conflict resolution and interpersonal relationships to get your team out of a rough spot when it occurs.