2 Questions and 6 Indicators of Team Success or Failure
All businesses succeed through team work. You may have already noticed that in your business some teams are outstanding, some teams are doing OK, and some teams are not quite so good. We’ve devised a new Team Diagnostic Toolkit to help you identify which of your teams are working exceptionally well and where things might be going wrong. Maybe some teams are not as productive as they once were. If so, what are the indicators of team success or failure in your business? Perhaps there are problems with low motivation, poor communication, lack of co-operation or a growing ‘blame culture’. You may be thinking about what changes you need to make to solve these problems.
If you are not sure yet and would like to find out if there is potential for improvement, a good place to start is by asking yourself some searching questions about your team’s success or failure.
This approach advocates positive inquiry into the best of what is, in order to imagine what could be, followed by design of a desired future state that is compelling and thus creates future change. The model is based on the assumption that the questions we ask will tend to focus our attention in a particular direction – in this case a positive direction. Questions are never neutral, they are always value laden and fateful, and social systems (like for example, your business) move in the direction of the questions they most persistently and passionately ask and discuss. You can use that to move your business towards positivity and success by asking positive questions.
A Positive Question
For example, using the principles of Appreciative Inquiry, you could start in a positive frame of mind by asking yourself, your top team and senior managers:
“Which do you think is our highest performing team?” and “Why?”
OK it’s really 2 questions in one. The point is to start by diagnosing what success looks like, sounds like and feels like in your business. Really work away at the diagnostic question “Why?” because it’s NOT self congratulatory smugness. It’s deeply analytical and investigative, using searching diagnostic questions. For example: What do the highest performing team(s) in your business look like? What is it that they DO differently? What do they sound like? How do they speak to each other, to other departments, to suppliers and customers? What do they feel like? What is the atmosphere or culture like? How energised and engaged are they? And so on.
Then you might ask yourself and other senior people in your business what you or they could or should be doing to create those same positive conditions in all the teams operating throughout your business.
If you are a little skeptical about this positive questioning we invite you to test it out for yourself. Start with the positive questions and analysis, and then for balance, you can go to the negative question below.
Just asking these positive diagnostic questions of your key people and analysing their answers, plus asking for suggestions to apply that across the whole of your business, then taking action to make it happen will put you well ahead of the competition.
Failure to Analyse the Positive
That’s because in our experience, most organisations don’t put much (if any!) resource into identifying and analysing what they do exceptionally well or get outstandingly right. In most businesses success is taken for granted and goes unexamined, and sometimes goes unacknowledged too. They spend most of their diagnostic resources investigating and analysing faults, problems, failures and complaints. They take an approach based entirely on a deficiency model. They ask only negative focus questions such as “What are the problems?”; “What’s gone wrong?” or “Why is it not working?” Sometimes the questions are phrased in terms of challenges, which still focuses on deficiency, on what is missing or needs to be fixed or solved. The questions of themselves are not ‘wrong’ and problems DO need to be fixed. It is taking this negatively focussed approach without regard for the positive that is problematic. It is the lack of balance, with the resources and attention focussed only on problems that can cause a negative skew in a business.
A Negative Question
If you want to try a problem focused, fault finding approach to see what it tells you, you could ask yourself, your top team and senior managers:
“Which do you think is our poorest performing team?” and “Why?”
OK it’s another 2 questions in one. Your purpose is to diagnose what may be going wrong in your business so that you can put it right – fix it. You should ask deeply analytical and investigative questions. For example: What do the poorest performing team(s) in your business look like? What is it that they DO differently? What do they sound like? How do they speak to each other, to other departments, to suppliers and customers? What do they feel like? What is the atmosphere or culture like? How de-energised and disengaged are they? And so on.
Again, ask yourself and the other senior people in your business what you or they could or should do to stop what’s going wrong, what they can do to improve things, and create more positive conditions in all the teams throughout your business.
6 Indicators of Team Success or Failure.
As a senior leader, there are a number of organisational level indicators you could measure to identify if things are going well or if you have a problem. As a quick guide they are usually reducing if things are going well, or increasing if things are going wrong. You you’re not in HR yourself you should be able to ask your HR Department for this information.
For example do you have:
1. Decreasing or increasing staff turnover rates?
2. Fewer, or more, or more serious errors?
3. Decreasing or increased levels of customer complaints?
4. Decreasing or increasing levels of internal disputes and grievances?
Two other sources of diagnostic information you could use are the outcomes of:
5. Staff surveys.
6. Exit interviews.
All of these indicators should be continuously monitored. For example, what does your latest staff survey tell you? If you don’t already survey your staff, we can help you to organise a survey. We can discuss what questions you would like to ask, and more importantly, what you want to do with the answers.
What does the analysis of recent exit interviews tell you? If you don’t usually interview staff when they are leaving (exiting) the business, you could identify one or two recent leavers and have someone phone them. We can help you to identify the key questions you want to ask, or we could conduct the exit interviews on your behalf.
What do you do next?
Well that depends on what you want to achieve. If you find that these questions and indicators give you food for thought, or some useful insights, you might find our Leadership Team Impact Report very interesting and informative. It provides feedback to a leadership team as a whole and will help you and them to take things to a deeper level. Simply contact us to find out more.
You may also want to consider how our Leadership Skills Development Programme would help you to develop more effective leaders in and across your organisation.
If you have identified some problems, or would like to talk confidentially to someone with the experience and expertise to help you to improve team performance in your business, please get in touch. We have a successful 28 year track record and can show you brilliant testimonials from our clients and outstanding feedback from delegates. We look forward to hearing from you and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.