If you are leading or a member of a team, you should be clear as to what your role is, what your team have agreed to achieve, and have protocols in place to mitigate conflict and drive decision making.
In today’s schools, teams are responsible for accomplishing many transactional tasks, such as lesson planning and event coordination. Those tasks may be delegated to a team, but are completed by individuals. However, harnessing the collective energy of team members, getting them to work interdependently, and working towards a transformative outcome should be the focus of a team. Developing synergy between team members can be challenging, so it’s critical to know where to focus.
It’s easy enough to measure a team’s performance against set targets or objectives. The tricky bit is getting an accurate picture of the dynamics within the team, and establishing what the team members think about the issues that affect them on a daily basis; such as level of morale, or style of leadership, or whether they feel they have the necessary tools to do the job. If you really knew what your team members thought about how the team operates wouldn’t that enable you to make it even more effective?
The THC assessment that I prescribe to Boards, Senior Leadership, Teaching and Administrative teams analyses 13 key Team Performance Indicators that affect team performance, in a level of granularity that pinpoints specific areas of strength and opportunities for development within those 13 Indicators.
Its comprehensive nature, involving quick and easy responses to 156 one-line statements, covers these performance categories:
- Balanced Roles
- Clear Objectives and Purpose
- Openness, Trust, Confrontation and Conflict Resolution
- Co-operation, Support, Interpersonal Communication and Relationships
- Individual and Team Learning and Development
- Sound Inter-Group Relations and Communications
- Appropriate Management/Leadership
- Sound Team Procedures and Regular Review
- Output, Performance, Quality and Accountability
- Change, Creativity Challenge the Status Quo
- Decision-Making and Problem Solving
Assessment results produce a team report that enable a team to take positive, purposeful actions in areas that are likely to generate the greatest return in terms of performance enhancement activities.
Here are some additional benefits of the Team Health Check:
- Can compare the results of several teams within the school;
- Is 100% anonymous enabling participants to be entirely honest in their responses;
- Is neutral and independent, making no assumptions about the current strengths or development needs of the team;
- Ensures the ‘buy-in’ of all team members, as each person has the opportunity to express their own views and opinions with a guarantee of 100% confidentially;
- Is quick and simple to complete; it takes individuals typically 20 minutes to complete
- Can form the basis of a ‘Team Development Plan’ for the next 12 months; and
- Can be repeated at future points, to show how things have changed as a result of the heightened awareness created by the first diagnostic, and resultant action planning.
The THC, once completed, provides teams with substantive data from which they can engage in performance related discussions, without the fear of being judged or criticised.
Just reading the 156 team performance indicators, provides ample reason and motivation for team members to engage in passionate and productive dialog about the team’s health. Exposure to the performance indicators provokes a lot of thought around if it applies to the team, and whether it should or not at the teams current stage of development.
This latter point also raises an interesting point about team members that find it difficult to rate several of the team performance indicators and use as an excuse, ‘this doesn’t apply to us’. That excuse is prevalent on several teams because it is often a performance indicator an educator would never hold themselves to, largely because they never thought to apply that measure.
Often these are teams in name only as they fail to have a team identity. They see their work as unique and don’t see the value in investing time to achieve a level of interdependency where Balanced Roles and Clear Objectives and Purpose are essential. With this mind-set, they are unable to consider the team performance indicators as relevant. The good news about this scenario is that as a leader it is very easy to determine where your focus should be i.e. team building. If these symptoms are ignored, the work of the team leader becomes infinitely harder, as technically you’re not leading a team, but a collection of individuals. When team members are working interdependently, they become responsible to each other, and the work of the team leader can than be focused less on transactional tasks and more on transformational goals.