three rulers placed separate ways on backdrop

“The boss said we are doing a great job, keep going in the same direction. However, I am fielding calls from the contracting officer about some concerns from the customer. The quality assurance team is happy with the new procedures we implemented, but the team feels they are redundant and slow down the process.”

Is this an effective team? How would you know?

As the leader of a team how are you measuring their effectiveness? In working with teams, particularly senior teams, it is not uncommon to have multiple standards of success.

Where to start?

  1. Richard Hackman in his research on senior leadership teams determined there are three criteria of team effectiveness that define high performing teams. They are: Task Performance, Quality of Group Processes, and Member Satisfaction. Let’s define the criteria, then look at how a team you are associated with measures up.

Task Performance: references the customers or clients who are the recipient of the team’s work and how satisfied they are with the quality, quantity, and timeliness of the work.

Quality of Group Processes: means a team is growing and becoming more effective over time. A one-time production of excellent results is not a high performing team.

Member Satisfaction: refers to the experience of the individual team members and their growth over time because they are part of the team.

Sounds easy enough until we start exploring further.

Possible Actions for Leaders

In our opening vignette, who are the recipients of the team’s work? The contracting officer, the ultimate customer, the boss, or the quality assurance folks?

They all are. That is the problem. For senior teams the list of stakeholders can be extremely long; the board, shareholders, partners, the internal workforce, suppliers, customers, regulators, etc., …

Task one: Identify your stakeholders and how they are measuring you. This can be an enlightening exercise.

Quality of Group Processes, refers to the growth of the team. Just like a championship sports teams, high performing teams in the corporate world get better as the season progresses. Are the participants on the team you are thinking about; motivated to participate, fully engaged or regularly missing meetings? How you answered that question is a clear indicator.

Task two: Investigate, measure, and assess the trajectory of your team. Whichever way it is moving sends you a message.

Member Satisfaction is the growth and development of the individual members. We all want to continually grow from our professional experiences. If team members are growing professionally in knowledge, skills, and abilities your team is on a good track.

Task 3: Determine the level of individual satisfaction of team members.

If you completed the above three tasks you now have the metrics for team effectiveness defined by the stakeholders and a sense of the trajectory of your team. How would you rate your team effectiveness on a scale of 1-10?

Possible Next Steps to Investigate

Completing the above tasks gives you valuable data to work with. The next question is, where do I intervene to improve my team? If Dr. Hackman was talking to you, he would tell you to go back and look at the conditions you formed this team under. The effectiveness results are a direct reflection of the conditions. If you adhered to his six conditions (three elements named “The Essentials” and three named “The Enablers” for a high performing team) you would have the potential to remove up to 80% of the variability of the team’s performance. Take a look at two previous posts for more details on the Essential and Enabling conditions to consider.

The cause and effect relationships are: set the conditions correctly and it is highly likely your ultimate measures of effectiveness will be high.

How might the results of your team’s performance change if you started measuring the implementation of the six conditions, rather than waiting for the results from stakeholders?

I propose it would shorten your feedback loop and put you further ahead of the competition.