Case Study: Whirlpool's Team Performance Assessment

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Whirlpool's team-based performance assessment helped it navigate a tumultuous period of business in 2011. In this lesson, you'll learn more about this approach and the impact it had on the organization.

Whirlpool's Team Performance Assessment

If you're looking for a way to elevate your team's performance, look no further than Whirlpool's approach.

Let's look back to 2011. Whirlpool was struggling amid a tumultuous economy. The housing market was in bad shape, Whirlpool's profits were shrinking and its stock price had taken a tumble. The company's leadership was forced to step back and look at taking some drastic measures, including cutting costs where it could and restructuring in other areas to navigate the difficult time.

Whirlpool's North American Region Staff, dubbed ''NAR'' staff, was tasked with implementing the changes necessary to help the company survive.

Examining NAR

In order to effectively lead change and restructuring in the Whirlpool organization, the NAR staff decided it needed to clean its own house before it could be effective in managing Whirlpool's coming changes. It did so by adopting a more team-oriented approach to whether or not it was performing at the highest levels. The team turned to a High Performance Team Survey (HPT).

The HPT is used to assess five areas to determine how a team is performing:

  • Whether the team has a shared commitment to the company's vision and goals
  • Whether the team is sharing accountability for its results
  • Whether a team is communicating clearly and transparently
  • Whether the team can handle constructive debate and conflict effectively
  • Whether a team exhibits mutual respect and camaraderie among its members

In looking at these five areas, the HPT can help analyze the group's strengths and deficiencies and then improve where necessary to boost both team and company performance.

In addition to the team survey, they also completed a team development meeting, which came after the results of the initial survey. Six months later, after implementing the results of the first survey, team members took an additional survey and measured areas of change.

The First HPT Survey and Follow-up

What was discovered in the first survey was that the team was wasting time in ineffective weekly staff meetings; they were responding to problems reactively instead of proactively; team leaders were challenging group decisions in private with management; and they didn't have much cohesion as a team.

The team session that transpired after the first HPT survey offered some suggestions:

  • Staff meetings should be more focused on matters that need immediate attention.
  • Team members challenging group decision in private with management would stop.
  • The team would focus on functioning more like a team rather than a group of individuals.
  • Unique team meetings would be developed off-site to enhance creative thinking.

Six Months Later

Six months after the initial survey and the follow-up meeting, members of the NAR team took a secondary survey to gauge the effectiveness of the changes they had implemented.

In every category, from ''Shared Commitment to Vision and Extraordinary Goals'' to ''Shared Accountability for Results'' and from ''Transparent Communication'' and ''Constructive Conflict'' to ''Mutual Respect and Camaraderie'', follow-up scores had increased.

The areas of most improvement came in the team aligning its priorities with the company's goals, being accountable for team decisions, and finding an appropriate way to handle constructive debate and conversation about issues that came up.

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