Are You Weighing Opportunity and Risk? By Marshall Goldsmith To...
“Before and after” studies have clearly shown that if team members have regularly followed up with their colleagues they will almost invariably be seen as increasing their effectiveness in their selected individual “areas for improvement.” The group summary will also tend to show that (overall) team members will have increased in effectiveness on the common team items and overall team member behavior. The mini-survey summary report will give team members a chance to receive positive reinforcement for improvement (and to learn what has not improved) after a reasonably short period of time. The mini-survey will also help to validate the importance of “sticking with it” and “following up.”
Step Ten. In a team meeting have each team member discuss key learn¬ing from their mini-survey results, and ask for further suggestions in a brief one-on-one dialogue with each other team member.
Step Eleven. Review the summary results with the team. Facilitate a discussion on how the team (as a whole) is doing in terms of increasing its effectiveness in the key behavior that was selected for all team members. Provide the team with positive recognition for increased effectiveness in teamwork. Encourage team members to keep focused on demonstrating the behaviors that they are trying to improve.
Step Twelve. Have every team member continue to conduct brief, monthly, “progress report” sessions with all other team members. Re-administer the mini-survey eight months after the beginning of the process and again after one year.
Step Thirteen. Conduct a summary session with the team one year after the process has started. Review the results of the final mini-survey, and ask the team members to rate the team’s effectiveness on where we are versus where we need to be in terms of working together as a team. Compare these ratings with the original ratings that were calculated one year earlier. (If team members followed the process in a reasonably disciplined fashion, the team will almost always see a dramatic improvement in teamwork.) Give the team positive recognition for improvement in teamwork, and have each team member (in a brief one-on-one dialogue) recognize each of his or her colleagues for improvements in behavior that have occurred over the past twelve months.
Step Fourteen. Ask the team members if they believe that more work on team building will be needed in the upcoming year. If the team believes that more work would be beneficial, continue the process. If the team believes that more work is not needed, declare victory and work on something else!
Why This Process Works
The process described above works because it is highly focused, includes disciplined feedback and follow-up, does not waste time, and causes participants to focus on self-improvement.
Most survey feedback processes ask respondents to complete too many items. In such surveys most of the items do not result in any behavioral change and participants feel they are wasting time. Participants almost never object to completing four-item mini-surveys that are specifically designed to fit each team member’s unique needs. The process also works because it provides ongoing feedback and reinforcement. Most survey processes provide participants with feedback every twelve to twenty-four months. Any research on behavioral change will show that feedback and reinforcement for new behavior needs to occur much more frequently than yearly or bi-yearly. A final reason that the process works is because it encourages participants to focus on self-improvement. Many team-building processes degenerate because team members are primarily focused on solving someone else’s problems. This process works because it encourages team members to focus primarily on solving their own problems!
Let us close with a challenge to you (the reader) as a team leader. Try it! The “downside” is very low. The process takes little time and the first mini-survey will quickly show whether progress is being made. The “upside” can be very high. As effective teamwork becomes more and more important, the brief amount of time that you invest in this process may produce a great return for your team and an even greater return for you organization.
Marshall Goldsmith is an executive educator, coach and million-selling author of numerous books – including the New York Times bestsellers, MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, the Harold Longman Award winner for Business Book of the Year.
The article was modified in January 2012. The original version was published in:
Coaching for Leadership: How the World’s Greatest Coaches Help Leaders Learn, edited by: Marshall Goldsmith, Laurence Lyons, Alyssa Freas, 2000, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp. 103-109.