Perceived Team Effectiveness Report
Communication is the foundational skill for every team. Without it, a team is just a collection of people working as individuals with no coordination. Good communication doesn’t simply depend on the words or the technology we use to convey our message, it’s also affected by deeper issues like respect and trust. Effective teams share important information and give and receive difficult feedback in constructive ways.
Without a clear understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish, team members cannot effectively coordinate their efforts. Strong goals are specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related (SMART ). This means it’s clear what needs to be accomplished, what the time frame is, and who is responsible. While it may seem obvious, goals should be written so that it’s clear whether or not they’ve been accomplished. This creates accountability for the individuals and the team. Without clear goals, teams can get bogged down as members pursue their own interpretations of the task without coordinating efforts.
A team exists to solve problems: from the day-to-day challenges that stand in the way of their goals, to unexpected issues inside or outside the organization. Clear processes, workflows, roles, responsibilities, and hierarchies allow team members to work together efficiently and complete complex decision-making and implementation tasks. These processes may rely on relatively strict protocols but they should give team members the flexibility to adapt familiar methods to new or unexpected situations.
Well-functioning teams work to cultivate cultures and processes that minimize conflict. But it’s important to acknowledge that some conflict is inevitable on any team. (In fact, a distinct lack of conflict could be a warning sign that people are afraid to disagree or voice unpleasant facts.) The best-functioning teams, like the best couples, are skilled at repairing relationships after conflict occurs. Every team should have a meaningful and fair process for resolving conflict, capable of leaving all parties satisfied. An outside mediator may be needed if more informal steps cannot resolve issues.
Morale is the factor within team dynamics that’s most difficult to pin down. Sometimes, boosting morale can be as easy as offering everyone an afternoon off or a year-end bonus. But if those gestures seem inadequate or out of touch, they can actually make morale even worse.
Morale is often tied to performance, but sometimes the most successful team turns out to have a toxic culture, while the lowest team on the totem pole is the most cohesive.
Because morale is dependent on a complex blend of factors – like all of those examined in this assessment – as well as the individual personalities of team members and leaders, leadership styles, specific work assignments, and externalities outside anyone’s control, it’s impossible to offer general prescriptions.
The elements of this tool are all designed to help a team examine its functions and build trust and communication in order to identify areas of strength and concern. Teams with strong morale will be able to use them as a base to improve their other functions. Teams with low morale may find that by breaking down individual factors one by one and working together to improve them, they’re better able to address deeper dynamics as well.
A strong organization cannot guarantee its teams will be effective, but a weak or dysfunctional organization will certainly disrupt even the strongest team. Organizations have the ability to elevate or decimate team morale, whether through compensation, benefits, and workplace environment, or by the way leaders acknowledge or ignore a team’s efforts.
No matter how good a team is, if its members don’t feel their organization has their back, the team’s performance will suffer in the long term. It’s important for teams to recognize when the factors holding them back are beyond their control in order to avoid making unfair recriminations and unnecessary changes.
If organizational support is lacking, team leaders should begin building bridges with sympathetic outside leaders who’ll be receptive to their concerns. Ideally, they can discuss organizational issues openly with all members of their team, with the goal of acknowledging people’s frustrations and finding concrete ways to address specific complaints.