The Business Case for Effective Teams

Published: May 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 is the business case for effective teams? How do you measure team effectiveness?”

APPLY : The business case for Team Clock is the fundamental understanding that ineffective teaming sub-optimizes results and that effective teaming is a necessary condition for high performance. All teams manage challenge, adversity, growth and change in a manner that is unique to the strengths and vulnerabilities of their structure and dynamics. Here are some of the anchors of healthy team structure:

Investment infrastructure

  • Mutual respect/appreciation of differences
  • Consensus philosophy/mission/values/vision

Trust and interactional 

  • Effective management of conflict
  • Individual and collective accountability for healthy interaction

Innovation and team effectiveness

  • Leverage differences as strengths
  • Breakthrough creativity

Distancing to leverage change for growth

  • Appropriate mourning/regrouping/refueling
  • Identification of new opportunities

ACT : Team Clock is an internal benchmarking tool employed to assess team structure. The Team Clock Institute provides a diagnostic profile of team challenges and opportunities. Assessment-informed action planning is designed to leverage healthy team dynamics required to maximize performance. With a simple online assessment, any team can get a snapshot of their current functioning and determine targeted actions to become more effective. Each quadrant of the Team Clock cycle has predictable struggles. Below are some examples of common problems for teams and simple strategies for moving forward:

Distancing Quadrant: mired in loss: too depleted to re-invest.

Strategy: acknowledge change, mourn and refocus on next opportunity.

Investment Quadrant: inability to manage conflict and differences respectfully: unable to achieve a consensus common direction and vision.

Strategy: improve conflict management skills and clarify consensus norms, mission & values.

Trust Quadrant: indulgence in the comfort zone: afraid of taking risks and exploring new ideas.

Strategy: leverage cross-functional sharing to optimize differences.

Innovation Quadrant: adherence to the status quo: unwilling to accept the consequences of change.

Strategy: enhance change management skills and re-position talents & strengths to stir up creativity.


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.