For Those Who Have A Complicated Relationship With Feedback
Sara Ismail-Beigi Bartlett speaks with guests about their ideas, perspectives, and best practices regarding feedback. For some, this process can be alarming, but it is essential and a key basis for improvement.
This week on the podcast, Sara talks about high performing teams and the dimensions of team effectiveness. She shares one model for measuring team effectiveness across 8 domain. They developed statements and questions that spoke to the core of what makes an effective team. Sara introduces some of the influential elements. Subscribe to the podcast today so you never miss an episode!
Welcome to Business Bites. My name is Sara. This is the podcast for busy professionals who want the quick hits of business terminology, historical context, and strategies for integration. This week, we're going to be talking about high-performing teams and dimensions of team effectiveness.
One of the bodies of research that I like to look at the most is Larson and LaFasto's research that was done in 1989. They evaluated 30 high-performing teams, including the Boeing 747 team, various teams who went to Mount Everest, the team at IBM who developed the PC, as well as the Challenger Disaster Commission.
One of the things that each of these teams had in common as they were looking at the different factors and dimensions of their work is that they had a lot of overlap between seven dimensions of team effectiveness, purpose and goals, roles, team processes, team relationships, intergroup relations, problem-solving, passion and commitment, and skills and learning.
What they took from this work is that they created an assessment of being able to look at team effectiveness from a different lens. In each of these seven areas, they developed statements and questions that really spoke to the core of what makes a team effective. We won't have time in the podcast today for me to read you all 56 of the statements, but I do want to point out some of the key ones that are most influential for me, and the ones that I taught most often in teams.
Let's start with purpose and goals. One of the statements that teams evaluate is whether their team has a meaningful and shared purpose. This is one where I initially get some looks, and of course, the team says, But of course, we have a shared purpose! But then when I ask them to define it and articulate it, it turns out that it's meaningful, potentially, but not shared. And it invites a conversation between the team members of what are they actually trying to accomplish, and are they on the same page about that.
Within the area of roles, one of the questions that I talk about the most is thinking about whether team members clearly understand their roles. This is always an opportunity for folks to dig in a little bit deeper to what actually each other does. Now, you may know that your colleague works in marketing, or perhaps that this is the group that handles operations. But what does their day look like, day to day? What was the meeting that they were just at, and what was their role in it? Do we actually understand what our colleagues do? Now I'm not saying that we need to be 100% proficient in what our colleagues are working on, but it does help to know what each other is doing and how that might help us and or benefit the larger organization.
The next dimension is team processes. From here, the one that always gets a laugh is the item group meetings are very productive. I haven't met a group yet who hasn't had some challenge with the way they run their meetings. We'll of course talk about that in a future byte, but I do want to harp on the fact that a lot of organizations struggle with making meetings productive and a good use of time. We've all been in a meeting that could have been an email or in a meeting that was being run poorly, and this is a great opportunity for teams to have honest conversations about their processes and the way that they want to be more effective at work.
The next dimension of team relationships is where we start to talk a little bit about communication and trust. The statement that I often have the most dialogue around is, communication in our group is open and honest. This one can be a challenging one to start to discuss within a team, especially if trust has been breached in the past. But it's an important conversation to have if the group is going to start to learn to work together and talk to each other about what's going on.
The next dimension is intergroup relations. This is where we're thinking about how one intact team works with another team, and how their missions are aligned. And so naturally, the question that we talk about often is the statement, the goals of our group support those of other groups. Now you'll remember from our first one when we were talking about purpose and goals, most teams aren't clear on what their own goals are, not to mention the goals of other teams. This requires that intergroup relations, where two teams are talking to each other, or two departments are talking to each other about how we can get things done, not just within our own small group.
The next dimension focuses on problem-solving. And of the various statements, the one that I like to encourage teams to think about is the statement of, team members seek and give each other constructive feedback. You'll know from this podcast that feedback is a thing that I think a lot about because it's something that I talk a lot about with groups. It's very hard for a lot of individuals to be able to give each other clear, constructive, and meaningful feedback consistently. And it often comes up best in problem-solving. How do we work together better so that we can make things happen?
Next area that we focus on in the assessment is passion and commitment. And the statement that keeps coming up again and again is, as a team, we work to attract and retain top performers. Now typically if I'm doing a facilitation or a training with a group, I'm already talking to the top performers. And they have a lot of ideas about how we can keep talent and or find new talent. But is it something that's feasible for the organization? Are there enough benefits in place? Are there enough variety of projects that people are interested in to be able to keep work interesting and to keep things moving forward, not just for themselves, but for the organization? Most people I interact with really do want to do a good job at work and thinking about how we attract and retain folks who want to do that as well should be a key priority for the organization.
The last dimension of team effectiveness that Larson and LaFasto focused on is skills and learning. And the statement that comes up and that we spend a little bit of time talking on is, we as a team view everything, even mistakes, as an opportunity for learning and growth. I can tell a lot about an organization and how they handle failure, how they handle situations which didn't go the way they wanted, and wish they had gone differently. Is it an opportunity to fire everyone and rebuild the team from scratch? Or do we have a more appreciative mindset of viewing everything, even those mistakes as that chance to learn and grow from it?
We have to be able to keep the team intact, provide honest feedback, and do a real debriefing of what went wrong and what could we do differently next time. As you're thinking about each of these dimensions of team effectiveness, I'd encourage you and your groups to consider how could you introduce some of these elements into practice and start talking a little bit more steeply about team effectiveness going forward.
This has been Sara with Business Bites. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you on what other terminology you'd like bite-sized. And as always, give us a quick rating on your platform of choice, and share this podcast with a friend. We'll see you next time.