Measuring High Performing Teams: Impact & Tools

Instructor: Nathan Hurwitz

Dr. Nathan Hurwitz is a tenured Associate Professor in Theatre and has three books in print, two textbooks and a coffee table book.

Measuring team performance rather than individual performance can help to increase quality and quantity. This lesson looks at evaluations that will help you accomplish this.

Measuring Team Performance

Business environments increasingly place more responsibility on teams and less on individuals. Despite this, many businesses cling to practices of individual assessment when a team assessment yields the more comprehensive and useful set of information.

Comprehensive team appraisals include information that reflects individual members of the team while maintaining a focus on the team's success at meeting its goals.

The reason for these measurements and assessments is to improve methods and results in terms of both quality and quantity. Each team assessment should measure success along two axis; results and process. Assessment of results allows for examination of quantitative achievement, rates of production, delivery, and so on. It also lets management reset future benchmarks accordingly.

Process Assessment

Process assessment reveals areas of strength and weakness in the group dynamic such as ability to work together, effectiveness of team meetings, ability to come to agreement, and problem-solving techniques.

Process assessment evaluates areas of strength and weakness in how well the group functions as a team. To effectively evaluate, elicit minutes from three to five team meetings. This will give a reasonable read on the team dynamic in each of four areas of assessment:

1. Team interactions

Team success depends on the presence of multiple perspectives, backgrounds, and opinions. These create strategies and innovative plans. Differences and disagreements are inevitable, but success as a team requires engaged listening skills, respect, and courtesy.

Note positive and negative comments made in meetings. A ratio of 3-7 positive comments to every one negative comment represents a successful team. More positive comments indicates an environment in which people are working to avoid conflict, while more negative comments indicate a level of dysfunction.

2. Conflict

The best decisions often arise during conflict resolution. While people want to avoid conflict, a healthy disagreement is fertile ground for creativity.

Over the series of three to five meetings, record each team member's participation in the process of discussion, idea-generation, and solution. If they participate relatively equally, the team's conflicts are appropriate and their resolution likely to be positive. If one or two people are always the most heated voices in any discussion, it is likely that they are attempting to dominate the team.

While a team member may have a bad day, any member who fails to engage regularly has a problem. The level of concern should rise with the number of team members who are not participating.

3. Buy-in

Not only should discussions be balanced between team members, but decisions need to represent alignment of team members. By the discussion's end, all team members should be knowledgeable and in agreement. Dysfunctional teams are those that rubber stamp decisions pushed through by the more aggressive members.

Track the participation of each member in discussions leading to decisions. It should be clear whether members concur because they believe decisions to be right or because they're taking the path of least resistance. Team members who regularly under-participate or dominate these meetings represent problems to be addressed.

4. Mutual accountability

In high functioning teams, members hold each other accountable to the same set of standards that they use for themselves. Well-prepared, attentive, engaged members are held in respect, while those who are not are encouraged to rise to the team standards.

Observation of meetings should reveal which members hold each other accountable for collaboration and which try to dominate.

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