Your Team Needs a Tune-Up

Evaluating team performance is just as important as evaluating individual performance

I’d be willing to bet you’re a member of a team that meets frequently, and you often either dread going to the meetings or come out of them feeling like they were a big waste of your time. I can bet on this because it seems to happen to all of us at one point or another. Sorry — I can’t solve the problem of the sea of meetings that crowd your calendar. (But I feel your pain!)

What I can do, though, is help you clean up the team meetings you’re in and make the teams you’re in more valuable. The one thing that teams often don’t do but would make a world of difference as to whether they’re a waste of time or not is diagnose the effectiveness of the team.

We take our cars in every six months to get them checked out. We give students report cards to keep their progress on track. We fervently track our favorite football team’s stats. We evaluate the performance of everything around us. Why don’t we do it with our teams? We should. Not doing so is costing us countless hours of lost time and productivity.

In the 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey conducted by Deloitte, 31% of respondents said that “most” or “almost all” work at their organization is done in teams. If that’s true for you, and if you haven’t evaluated how well your team is functioning and producing, that’s a 31% blind spot- imagine the impact you could have if you took a few minutes to diagnose the health of your team.

Want to rev up your team’s effectiveness? Start by asking them to evaluate three distinct areas of team health: purpose, process and culture.

Purpose: Why are we all here?

What is your team’s collective goal? By ”collective goal,” I don’t mean the collection of individual goals. I mean a goal that is unique to the collective interests of the team. A goal that you must all work toward together — and without the collective efforts of the team, reaching it wouldn’t be possible.

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, argues that if you can’t identify a collective goal, you’re probably not a team at all. Through defining a combined purpose, teams can recognize how to contribute in ways that unify their actions and outcomes. Think about how much your efforts would shift if you all realized that your goal wasn’t just to share business updates.

For example, imagine if you asked your team to come up with a collective goal, and you all landed on “building transparency across all business units” as your target. Now, in addition to ensuring that you all know what’s going on in one another’s departments, the collective goal illuminates the needs to develop strategies for that behavior to trickle down and fan out in the organization. It puts the focus on the culture of sharing information across your respective teams. Building transparency is the goal, and sharing updates is just one of the little things your team has already done to try to accomplish that. The focus would likely then move to how you all can support one another in reinforcing that behavior within your teams and across the organization. You can see how the window of opportunity to go further opens when you identify the true collective goal.

Process: How do we work together?

I recently ran across an article by Jeff Boss on “26 Powerful Questions Healthy Teams Ask Themselves To Stay Healthy,” and more than half of the questions he recommends teams ask are related to their process, e.g.:

  • How do we make decisions?
  • What conditions create productivity for our team?
  • What other forms of collaboration could we use to cut down on meetings (if those don’t seem too productive)?

If you’re sensing a lack of value within all the meetings your team commits to, maybe meeting isn’t the mode that you all should be using to communicate. Drill into this problem by highlighting a specific outcome you all frequently achieve- sharing budget and spending progress, for example. Ask yourselves, “Would another way of sharing this information work more effectively? If a meeting is needed, would changing the structure of the meeting (like making it virtual or allowing attendees to bring computers and multi-task during the meeting) provide space for more value?”

Culture: Who are we with one another?

Team culture is a part of the engine that’s often overlooked, but it can trump all other health signs. If your team doesn’t share a sense of commitment, accountability and trust, then competing agendas and conflict will get in the way of your progress.

Does everyone feel committed to the team’s success? Do they do what they say they’re going to do, and do team members hold one another accountable? Do you all give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion about steps that were taken, or choices made? These are just few examples of questions healthy teams ask themselves. Taking the leap of asking questions like this requires bravery… other team members may shift in their seats at the likes of such direct inquiries. Lead up to a conversation like this by first getting your teammates to acknowledge the importance of team culture and quantify the ROI of focusing on team culture. Then push through with your questions- you won’t regret it.

Knowing what doesn’t work can reveal what does

Closing the gaps that your team uncovers would be an obvious next step but first diagnosing what’s going wrong is the most important one, and sometimes that’s enough to illuminate the solution. Your team’s performance could skyrocket if you take a few moments to uncover what’s not working for you.

Need a deeper level of assistance figuring this all out? I can help — let’s talk.