Evaluating Team Performance

by Michael Iannini 

I just spent an amazing day at Beijing World Youth Academy and was honoured to deliver a Keynote on how everyone in their community can be a Changemaker. In addition to addressing their whole community, I also ran workshops on evaluating team performance for leaders of small and large teams.

The workshops were not only meant to capacity-build leaders but also serve as a forum for teaching and non-teaching leaders to share experiences and learn from each other.  Three questions were at the heart of the sharing and learning:

What has your team done this year to evidence ‘high performance’?

What skills and dispositions does your team need to be high-performing?

What one skill or disposition should your team focus on developing between now and the end of the year and how can they develop that skill or disposition?

These 3 questions are the simplest form of evaluation, and in my opinion, the most effective form of evaluation when a team asks them every two months. These questions are examples and can easily be modified for several different contexts. 

When modifying these questions, please note the intention of each one:

Question 1: Establishes a benchmark for desired behaviour or outcomes;

Question 2: Defines a domain for growth based on current expectations; and

Question 3: Builds consensus for taking action.

To ensure action for Question 3 I workshopped how to develop an effective professional inquiry. Introducing a goal as a question is the most effective way for teams to achieve transformative goals. Questions are great for posing Learning Goals, which are inclusive and proven to contribute to higher team performance. 

Use statements, and in particular SMART statements, if you want to achieve transactional goals. If you know me, you know how much I detest the practice of SMART goals. I don’t like SMART goals as they are not inclusive and are very limiting in terms of the needs and aspirations of the greater team. They also don’t contribute to professional growth. 

In our workshops, we went even further. Once we had a good question, I introduced a Consultancy Protocol, which provided a forum for a leader to pose their question to peers and solicit feedback on how to achieve the goal. Because it is posed as a question, it invites engagement with stakeholders that may not have a direct interest in the result, but who can provide invaluable experience and perspective.

Effective evaluation should not only review how a team did but provide a pathway for how they can continue to grow and collaborate together.

Are you ready to lead an evaluation with your team? If you are, ensure the following is in place:

Team Identify: Team members recognise themselves as being part of a team. If they don’t value input from each other then it’s not a team, it’s a working group.

Shared Purpose: Team members work interdependently to complete shared tasks and goals.

Canvass Team Members: Assess their dispositions for a team evaluation and what they would like to learn from it.

Set the Agenda: In advance, send the three questions and synthesize what team members hope to learn (Step 3) into a Desired Outcome for the agenda.

Frontload the Evaluation: During the meeting share why you believe the team will benefit from an evaluation, and in particular, that you want to celebrate what the team is doing well and identify what the team can be doing more of to contribute to the professional growth of all team members.

Agree on a Question: Ensure the meeting ends with a professional inquiry that the team will make time to explore in subsequent meetings, perhaps even doing a consultancy protocol to identify actions the team can take to answer the question.

Be Accountable: Schedule a time to ask the three questions again with the focus of the first question being to evidence progress with the professional inquiry established in the previous meeting. If there hasn’t been significant progress, plan to debrief it in Question 2 and iterate the professional inquiry in Question 3.

Michael Iannini is a Leadership, Strategy and Organizational Management Consultant, at PDacademia, Hong Kong

To connect with Michael on LinkedIn, click here

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