What Are The Best Steps to Evaluate the Effectiveness of a Team?

Published: October 1, 2010

Welcome back to the Team Clock Institute's monthly newsletter. Each month, Breakthrough Teams will invite readers to participate in an Ask/Apply/Act model: Ask: this month's team challenge Apply: example story Act: action steps for consideration

ASK: “What are the best steps to evaluate the effectiveness of a team and set goals to improve?”

APPLY: There is research in the clinical literature suggesting that psychotherapy is no more effective than the passage of time. Perhaps positive outcomes occur more efficiently with treatment but, even without help, most of us will figure things out and find a way to cope. The literature also suggests the single greatest determinant of positive outcome in clinical intervention is the quality of the relationship between the client and his or her therapist. More than theoretical orientation, education or experience, the health of the connection drives results.

I recently had the opportunity to diagnose a broken team. The results were surprising. Nearly everyone on the team was committed to excellence. The vast majority of teammates expressed excitement about the ability to make an impact with their contribution. The passion around creativity and innovation were palpable. Unfortunately, key relationships within the team had been either abused or neglected. Connections had been damaged by disrespectful interactions and petty jealousies. The insidious toxic effect of these dynamics had undermined the team’s ability to thrive despite an enormous amount of talent and dedication.

Once they had exhausted their own resources, they reached out for help. The passage of time eventually would have unveiled the root of the problem and illuminated a solution avenue. Connecting with a helper expedited the positive outcomes. The team has since enjoyed impressive metrics of success.

ACT: The Team Clock Institute provides a diagnostic tool as a framework for teaching team effectiveness, quantifying team challenges and targeting actions. Simply, each member of the team participates in an assessment survey. Results are analyzed revealing the strengths, vulnerabilities, areas of consensus and points of discord on the team. A debriefing session is facilitated to discuss the results and identify specific interventions that will bring measurable change in team engagement and productivity.

Teams are built upon a matrix of relationships. Team effectiveness, in the end, is determined by the health and quality of these connections. This foundation is built on an infrastructure of common norms and direction that somehow arise from the resolution of differences in perspective. Respectful interaction then solidifies the team so that trust can support innovation. If all goes well, growth and change are managed with adaptability and the team refocuses on the next goal.

Does your team dare to ask for a diagnosis?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.