Imagine the Power of a Snapshot

Published: October 31, 2011

What if any team could take a snapshot of their health and effectiveness at any time? Consider a world where everyone took responsibility for their individual contribution to the team's collective goals. Imagine the impact of such performance accountability on a team's growth and development.

Recently, a team of entrepreneurial professionals elected to assess the health and effectiveness of their leadership measured against their business deliverables. The assessment process was pretty simple but the results created a crisis. Everyone on the team was fully aware that the business had failed to deliver on its objectives since its launch three years ago. Like many start-ups, a succession of events required the team to adapt to unexpected changes in personnel, competitor strategy, and the pressure of a sagging economy. In addition to these typical entrepreneurial challenges, however, the team was beset with infighting and trust issues. Casting blame had become the currency of daily interactions within the team. As much energy was being devoted to bracing for a colleague’s attack as was being spent of fulfilling the expectations of their job descriptions.

Once the team had spent the 15 minutes required to complete the online team effectiveness assessment, they were forced to examine the results that appeared in front of their eyes when they clicked the “submit” button. The metrics were revealing. On a 1-to-5 Likert Scale with “1” being low and “5” being high, the team scored a surprisingly low 1.64 on the survey question “We allow individuals to put themselves and their goals ahead of those of the team.” They scored an underwhelming 2.21 on the survey question “My team shares a clear understanding of our collective goals, responsibilities, and roles” Similar disappointing results defined the team’s response to the questions: “Members of my team are reluctant to take accountability for their actions.” and “We hesitate to confront inappropriate behavior from members of the team.”

While it probably would have been easier to decline the assessment opportunity, the consequences of the snapshot ignited necessary action. The bottom line was clear: there was a cause-and-effect relationship between their team effectiveness struggles and their inability to deliver on business goals. Simply, the bulk of the team’s professional energy was being expended on broken team infrastructure and unhealthy interactional dynamics. Fixing this would empower a renewed focus on the business at hand. Results would follow. The proof will speak for itself. With a renewed commitment to addressing team wellness, the business metrics arrow should be pointing in the right direction within two calendar quarters.

Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and been unhappy with the reflection? Is it best to avoid mirrors along with any other resource that activates the risk of seeing yourself? Team Clock Institute clients have moved beyond this fear. They click the shutter on the online assessment camera on a regular basis and agree to the accountability for team wellness that accompanies this choice.

The Team Clock equation: clear goals + healthy conflict + trust accountability + smart risks + resilient adaptation to change = organizational effectiveness.

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.