How To Evaluate Your Team
Does your favorite sports team stink? You can tell when they’re awful. They lose more games than they win. Attendance drops. Ugly hashtags proliferate. And to top it off, their star player gets into a fight with a paper towel dispenser. It’s so bad that your fanatic friend is getting the tattoo removed of a game-winning play that he memorialized on his left buttock.
What about your own team at work? How is it doing? Do you measure your results? Are you on track or not?
Teams don’t always evaluate themselves. They should.
There’s no formal requirement to do so, and that’s too bad. What gets measured gets managed, as business guru Peter Drucker often said.
Here’s What Doesn’t Work
The closest that some teams get to an evaluation is the dreaded “reflection time” at the end of a meeting. It’s like a group hug gone wrong. The chair says, “OK, let’s go around and see how everyone felt about the meeting.” This is followed by utter banality with a small dollop of indifference sprinkled on top.
“I thought it was a good meeting.”
“Nothing to add.”
“Well, the donuts were fresh.”
This is not a team evaluation. This is avoidance. It’s not clear whether the overwhelming nonchalance reflects an inability to call out how bad the meeting was, or just a desire to get home to watch Real Housewives of Milwaukee reruns.
To get better, teams need to know how they have done. Ad hoc teams should evaluate their work at the end of a project. Permanent teams should evaluate themselves periodically, at least once per year.
The way to do this is to ask three fundamental questions:1) Did We Do What We Said We Would Do?
Your ad hoc team was given a major task; to launch a new product, install a new customer relationship system, or move the office to new premises. When the project starts, the team should establish milestones and objectives. Then, at the end, the team should ask these specific questions:
- Did we complete our major project as planned?
- How close were we to the timetable that we set?
- Were we over or under budget?
- Were other resources required?
- What project details still need to be completed?
Using the project milestones that were established, it’s easy to measure your team at the end and say, “Yes, we got that done,” or “We were late on that.”
If there are shortfalls, ask why. Lack of resources? Too many projects on the go? Not enough commitment from management? Or did outside factors get in the way; for example, a legal case, a labor strike, or a big marketing initiative from a major competitor?
2) Did We Achieve The Results We Expected?
Whether you are on an ad hoc team, a board of directors, a sales team, or a small office staff, the measures of success that you pursue are similar.
- Did we achieve the profitability that we aimed for?
- Is our new program increasing market share?
- How satisfied are customers with our products, services, or programs?
- What kind of growth did we achieve?
You can’t simply say, “The team did a great job,” or “Time will tell….” You need to measure results in an objective way. If the results were not achieved, was it due to decisions that were made internally? Or was it due to external factors? In either case, the team needs to adapt its plans, aiming for improvement.
3) Did We Work Well Together?
This is the toughest question to answer. You’ll certainly know if your team is NOT working well together. There will be messy symptoms of what I call ‘team tension’. Someone quits the team. Angry emails go back and forth. And at meetings, you can cut the air with a knife because of all the bottled-up tension.
You can measure team cohesion by sending a short questionnaire to everyone on the team. Use an online survey so that results are anonymous. The questions don’t need to be profound. Rather, they simply need to gauge how people are feeling about team collaboration, what’s working well, and what could be improved.
- What aspects of collaboration worked well for you?
- What did not work well?
- How could teamwork be improved?
Include questions about communication and trust – these are critical to team effectiveness. Use a 10-point scale to gauge levels of effectiveness on these two items. Be sure to give team members a chance to add their own comments and suggestions. They’ll respond with honesty. And they might bring up issues that surprise you.
You Can Take Responsibility
One final thought. You may be hungry for a team evaluation, but you’re not the team leader. Write a recommendation and make a case at one of your regular meetings. Prepare an evaluation plan, and make it easy for the group to agree. Others who are keen will appreciate your efforts.
Summing up, the three major questions will work well for any team that’s interested in improving for the next time. If you can answer yes to all of them, your team is doing well. Yet never take your success for granted, as the next challenge is just around the corner. Terrific teams are always improving.