By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th December 2015
Additional insights on team temperature checks
It’s been three years since I wrote my last blog on team development and team temperature checks, and I have since published The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook, and also used the principles and approaches with project and operational teams.
My adapted version of Tuckman’s stages of team development, and the team temperature check survey or diagnostic are continuing to prove to be both simple and powerful tools for helping teams to be more productive and happier in their work.
I have, inevitable, gained some additional insights:
- There are no short cuts for achieving high performance teams
- It is however possible to accelerate the formation of high performance teams
- There is a handy way to group the different elements or prerequisites for team effectiveness
- There are many more aspects of team effectiveness to add to the list
- A team’s stage of development is determined by the least integrated member of the team
I’ll go through each of these in turn.
There are no short cuts for achieving high performance teams
My recent work with a team vividly reminded me that there is no point trying to encourage them to think about how they are going to work together, until they have resolved what they are each trying to do. People not only need clarity on the team’s overall purpose, but also on their individual roles and responsibilities.
Until they know what they are expected to do, the lack of certainty involved can lead to insecurity and an inability to think beyond that to how they can build stronger relationships with the other members of the team, let alone start developing more effective working practices.
It is possible to accelerate the formation of high performance teams
An early face-to-face team building event still seems to be the most effective way to accelerate the formation of a team. We need to be in the physical presence of our colleagues to foster that deeper understanding of each other, to build trust, and to have open discussions with each other about what we think and feel.
I continue to find that psychometric tools such as MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) or the Belbin Team Roles are a terrific resource to help team members understand and appreciate the respective strengths that they each bring to the team.
The other very simple technique to accelerate the formation of high performance teams is to encourage people to work with different members of the team in turn. There is nothing like working with someone on some specific task as a way of getting to know each other.
The different elements or prerequisites for team effectiveness can be grouped together
I realised, as I was working with one team to collate the results of a team temperature check (or diagnostic), that there is a natural way to group these elements. This discovery was reinforced by another client that was already using the groupings, albeit under slightly different names!
There are many more potential elements of team effectiveness to add to the diagnostic list
Each client I work with has their own ‘take’ on which elements they wish to retain or add to the list – and that seems entirely appropriate. The list is likely to depend on their team’s stage of maturity, and the nature of its role.
The list in my original blog on team development and team temperature checks was just nine items long! I have reproduced it here.
- Clear purpose & goals
- Trust & support each other
- Open communication
- Clear roles
- Task / Relationship Balance
- Decision Making
- Meeting management
- Information Management
The various teams I have worked with have added such elements as:
- Communication with stakeholders (as opposed to communication within the team)
- Creativity and innovation
- Action follow-up
- Performance monitoring
We use the final list as the basis for the team temperature check or diagnostic survey, and so it’s also worth having an ‘other’ category to pick up anything else that team members feel it’s important to review.
A team’s stage of development is determined by the least integrated member of the team
When my colleague Janet Burton and I are running the RiverRhee training courses for managers we ask them to identify which stage of development their team is at.
It’s not unusual for most of the team to have got to a certain point in their performance, only to be pulled back to an earlier stage with the arrival of one or two new team members. Alternatively, part of the team may have forged ahead, whilst the rest of it is still in the storming stage.
After some discussion we usually come to the conclusion that the manager needs to work with those members of the team who are at the earlier stage(s) to properly assimilate them into the team. Only then can the whole team achieve high performance.
What has your experience been?
As always, it’d be great to hear from readers who have explored the stages of team development and/or used temperature checks or diagnostics to enhance their team’s performance.. Have your experiences been similar to the above, or different? What else have you learned?
About the author
Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams and their managers to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. (We use coaching, training, facilitation, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)
Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.
Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.
She is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals) and of APM (Association for Project Management).