Are Your Teams As “Healthy” As They Can Be?

Are Your Teams As “Healthy” As They Can Be?

James R. McCarthy, MS, CPC

Word Count: 700 words
Time to Read: 1-2 minutes

We all know that it is a good idea to get regular check-ups with our doctor or dentist to help us to continue to be at our best. Our vehicle maintenance manual advises us to get service check-ups at regular intervals to keep our car in top running condition. When we go to the gym for a work-out, either we or our trainer has a list of the areas we need to pay attention to so as to get the most benefit from our exercise time.

Teams need regular ‘check-ups’ as well, if they are to flex and perform at their peak over time. The very best teams periodically take a look at how they are functioning on a number of critical dimensions, so that they can remain focused on their work, while at the same time valuing the people who make up the team.

Teams are the life-blood of most organizations. Teams can be formal Project Teams; Executive Teams; Task Teams, or Committees. They can be Cross-Functional; Virtual; Self-Managed; or so-called Problem Solving Teams.

Organizations have come to realize that teams and teamwork are essential components of doing business. ‘Supervisors' have been replaced by the ‘team leaders'. Companies have embraced these concepts because they work. Employee motivation, productivity, and morale increase dramatically when people feel valued, and when their contributions make a difference.

Teams that are high performing provide a significant competitive advantage. Teams that are performing poorly can be a substantial drag on overall productivity, profitability and employee morale.

We have all had very unpleasant experiences on teams, and we have all been on high performing teams. The factors that contribute to high or low performing teams have been identified and discussed in hundreds of books and articles. Companies have created legions of trainers and programs to address team dynamics.

What are some of these Characteristics, or “Vital Signs” of an Effective Team?

Think about a professional basketball team – The team has:

  • A clearly articulated goal understood by all team members. Every team member understands the overall goal for the season.
  • Clear objectives – they not only understand the overall goal for the season, but what they need to accomplish on any given day to move towards that goal.
  • Processes are consistently applied.
  • A clear decision-making process.
  • Competent team members – not just anyone can be on this professional basketball team. Each member brings a unique set of skills and understands his/her role.
  • Unified commitment – all team members understand that it will take everyone’s efforts and commitment to be a winning team.
  • Every team member working together – each team member knows their position and “plays” it.
  • Standards of excellence – no team sets out to be in last place. It takes everyone doing their best every day to reach his/her fullest potential.
  • Effective leadership.

The most cost-efficient and effective way to help teams become high performing is not to inundate them with training program after training program. Such training is often not connected to the actual experience of a specific team, but is instead driven by what trainers believe teams should know, or be doing at a specific point in time.

Assessing Team Needs – A Better Way

The Team Health Check process helps teams review critical signs of team health, identify the root cause of any team issues, and develop plans to address their needs. The intervention is a data-driven process, with both qualitative and quantitative data involving 14 critical dimensions of the team’s effectiveness - elicited directly from team members.

The purpose of this process is to help the team find ways to improve its performance in delivering its goals, and to increase member satisfaction with working on the team. The emphasis is on the team helping itself. Because it is a team-driven process, team members will be much more likely to act on the results. The process also helps the organization to focus just-in-time training on those areas of greatest need – as identified by the team.

Wolf Management Consultants offers the Team Health Check. This simple, proven process results in teams with higher productivity, less turnover, and better results – as well as enabling the wiser use of training dollars. Contact us today to learn more.



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