“Gettin’ good players is easy. Gettin’ ’em to play together is the hard part. “ ~Casey Stengel
For those of us who lead or participate in any type of team, we all have moments of wondering if the team could somehow operate better. Sometimes we know how to improve it and sometimes we are not really sure what the issues are. To really assess a team’s performance, we should use a diagnostic tool. There are many of these on the market and in the ideal world you would use a diagnostic tool AND a facilitator to work through your team strengths and areas for development.
But what if you don’t have the time, money or inclination to engage a diagnostic tool and a facilitator? You could try running a ‘quick and cheap’ assessment yourself. While this may not give the rigor a more formal process can bring, it is a starting point and at the very least it will get the team talking.
Step 1: Draw and label
Divide a flip chart sheet into 4 segments (by drawing a line across the middle horizontally and an intersecting line down the middle vertically)
The 4 labels for each segment are:
- Not so well
Step 2: Gather team input
Ask the team to write down their thoughts on post-it / sticky notes with one comment per post-it
- what are we doing well as a team?
- what are we doing not so well as a team?
- what should we be doing?
- what shouldn’t we be doing?
It’s up to you if you ask for input regarding the team as a bigger picture, or if you want to delve into the detail of team goals, operating principles or specific projects. Your terminology can also be adapted to suit e.g. instead of ‘doing’ you might say ‘achieving’ or ‘focussing on’.
Ask the team to put their comments onto the flip chart in the relevant segment.
Step 3: Discuss
Lead the team in a discussion about the comments, starting with what’s been done well and then what’s not being done so well. Then move on to the next two areas. Sometimes the ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ reflect the first two and sometimes new ideas will arise – double-up is fine and extra points are fine – the whole purpose is to get the team talking about team dynamics and performance.
Summarise for the group what the main findings are; ask for expansion if necessary; ask for examples if required.
Step 4: Action plan
On a separate flip chart, ask the team to agree on their top 4 – 5 actions to improve team function. This might include starting things we should be doing, stopping things we shouldn’t be doing, continuing things we do well or improving things we don’t do so well.
Confirm agreement and decide when the team will next check-in about the actions agreed.
There you have it – a ‘quick and cheap’ team assessment! While it might not be perfect, it is simple and easy to conduct and often generates some great insights.
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