Teamwork is seemingly more important than ever in our current climate. Those who are at work, such as our frontline health workers and supermarket employees, need to band together to combat the challenges and demands that COVID-19 and the general populace pose (though they may already be experienced with the latter one!). For those who are working from home, and communicating with their colleagues remotely, we need to discover new ways of capturing some of the magic, energy, and dynamism of being in the same room together with teammates. It’s difficult to collaborate with people remotely, and even harder to remain a “team” in the process, yet the problems our modern world is throwing at us demand teamwork!
In my last article, we explored the four characteristics of real teams and how teams can achieve exponentially more than just a group of individuals. In this article, I want to give you a helpful way to measure just how strong your team is, as well as identify any potential weaknesses.
In my book, Mapping Motivation, there is an activity which asks you to write down answers to the following questions:
How important is teamwork in your work?
How often do you conduct training programmes to ensure your team is effective, or how often do you experience such programmes?
How is the effectiveness of your team(s) reviewed?
How directly have you been involved in training programmes run by your direct line manager to ensure team building?
How many of your line managers review the effectiveness of their team(s)?
These questions are extremely useful to answer in and of themselves, and can give you some idea as to how your team is getting on, and areas to work on. You can also ask your clients these questions to build a clearer picture of their teams. Each question follows on from the next. So, for example, one might ask a manager or team-leader “How important is teamwork in your work?”. If they say “It’s vitally important”, then that might spur us to ask the second question, “How often do you conduct training programmes to ensure your team is effective, or how often do you experience such programmes?” If teamwork is vitally important, then surely they will be investing in developing their teams! Each question follows the proceeding one in a logical train.
To take this one step further, even more powerful than simply looking for an answer such as “yes” or “very important”, would be to score these each out of 10. To provide an example, “How is the effectiveness of your team reviewed?” - an answer of 1 might mean, “not at all”, whereas an answer of 10 might mean that “you are regularly reviewed to a high standard and get lots of feedback”. Add the scores of all five questions up, and multiply the total by 2, to get a percentage score (%). You now have a percentage that indicates to what extent you are functioning as a team!
You can take this one step further by applying what we would call the “four quadrant” methodology to your percentage. The quadrants are as follows:
1 – 35% – Action Zone
This means that the “team” is not really a team at all, but really a group that is likely to fall apart. Urgent attention is required, or there is a risk of the “team” collapsing into complete anarchy. This is called the Action Zone because one needs to take immediate action!
36 – 60% – Risk Zone
If this were a motivational profile, or what we call a PMA (Personal Motivation Audit), it would mean that motivation levels are extremely low, and likely to fall further unless we shift our focus. Similarly, with this team review, it means that there is little sense of being a team here, and this is only likely to diminish further unless we take proper steps towards improving aspects of the team dynamic. What scores can we increase? What is the most urgent one to address (for example, a score below 3)?
61% - 80% - Boost Zone
This means that the team is, in general, working well together. They are a team in most senses. However, there is room for further improvement! Maybe look at the lowest question score and work on boosting it.
81% - 100% - Optimal Zone
This would be a team performing optimally, totally in sync, regularly reviewing what they’re doing, going on training courses, and feeling like a team. The only danger here is complacency and “taking the hands off the wheel”. On the contrary, when a team reaches optimal level, as with optimal levels of motivation, the key becomes maintaining this with careful, nurturing attention.
You now have a very easy way of assessing to what extent your team is a team. Whilst not 100% accurate, there is a lot to be said for asking people to put a number on things (in fact, Likert scales and the like are built on this principle); unless one is engaged in active and wilful deception, the subconscious tends to supply a pretty accurate rating. Now that you can measure where you’re at, and identify potential weaknesses, you’re on your way to creating a truly fabulous and collaborative team, whether in lockdown or otherwise!
If you wish to find out more about teams, my book Mapping Motivation for Top Performing Teams is coming out December 2020. You can pre-order it here.