Launching New Teams and Improving Team Performance

alex-sajan-402957-unsplash*This post was authored by Dr. Gordon Curphy, Managing Partner of Curphy Leadership Solutions.

Teams are fundamental structures for getting work done, and tens to thousands of teams can be found in organizations. Despite the prevalence of teams, research shows that only 10-20 percent are high-performing, which means most have room for improvement. There are four basic ingredients needed to properly launch new teams or improve team performance. First, teams need a roadmap for performance. They need to understand the key factors associated with high-performing teams, which factors are the most important, and how they are interrelated. The Rocket Model fills this need, as it is a well-researched yet practical roadmap for building high-performing teams. 

Second, teams need both “how” and “why” feedback. The Team Assessment Survey provides benchmarking feedback on how a team is doing in each of the eight Rocket Model components. The Hogan suite of assessments can be used to provide “why” feedback, and the particular assessments used depends on which questions teams need answered. The Team Assessment Survey works best when team membershave been working together for a month or two, but the MVPI and HPI can be used when launching new teams. The third ingredient is a team improvement toolkit, which can be found in The Rocket Model: Practical Advice for Building High Performing Teams (Curphy & Hogan, 2012). This book describes different effective team improvement tools and techniques for improving team performance.

The last ingredient may be the most important, and this is using skilled team coaches to design and facilitate off-sites. The best team coaches have a deep understanding of the Rocket Model, can interpret Hogan and Team Assessment Survey results, understand team dynamics, can facilitate team improvement exercises, and help teams develop action plans and accountability mechanisms to enforce team agreements. Team coaches can come from inside or outside an organization; knowledge, experience, organizational politics, cost, and an understanding of the context in which a team operates are some of the more important considerations when choosing facilitators.

When properly designed and facilitated, team off-sites can accelerate the team launches and dramatically improve the performance of existing teams. The amount of time dedicated to team off-sites varies considerably; some are a couple of hours long and others take several days. In crafting a team off-site agenda we recommend the following contextual variables be considered:

1) How long the team has been in existence

2) Any recent restructuring or newly onboarded team members

3) Team members’ roles and responsibilities

4) Evaluation of team’s key performance indicators

5) Team goals and plans

6) How the team has been doing in achieving key milestones

7) Ownership and accountability norms

8) Shared assumptions about customers, competitors, regulators, and other teams being relied on for support

9) Effectiveness of team meetings and decision-making processes

Dr. Gordon Curphy is the Managing Partner of Curphy Leadership Solutions and the thought leader behind the Team Assessment Survey. With over 30 years of education and experience, Dr. Curphy helps clients navigate a range of talent management challenges, including leadership and team improvement workshops.

Photo by Alex Sajan on Unsplash.