How effective is your team?

How effective is your team? How effective could they be?  These are questions which I often ask my clients. Their response to the first question is usually to say, “They are highly effective.” But then, at the second question, they pause: how effective could they be?  How do we know? And how can we measure?

I have begun to think of this as a defined gap: the space between our team’s full potential and their actual performance.  Sometimes we can use defined targets in order to measure. Sales targets. Production targets. Margin. Customer satisfaction scores. But do these numbers provide accurate measure of the effectiveness of our teams?

I ask clients to think about it as a percentage.  If 100% is full potential, what percentage are they achieving currently?  I hear, “80 percent,” “70 percent,” “65 percent.” How would you answer for your team?

And then comes a harder question: What would it take to fill the gap?  The easy answer might be that team members need training.  Or we need to rid ourselves of a problematic team member. Or we need to fill that opening on the team that has been vacant too long. These things may be true, but if you took these actions, would the team be at 100%? Perhaps not. It seems that the gap may caused by more than issues of team composition and individual capabilities.

What more would they need? The answer to this question points directly at you, the leader of the team. If you think that the team will reach its potential without your leadership, you’ll be disappointed. I have seen teams of wonderfully talented people who cannot seem to find their groove. On the other hand, I have also seen teams of insufficiently qualified members who do find that groove and accomplish more than any of them envisioned.  And it is leadership – that intangible, sometimes understated, force that makes the difference.

Think about when you have interacted with your team – or with a team member -and seen remarkable results.  They step it up. They tackle a challenge. They collaborate with each other in new ways. They come up with good ideas. They embrace the differences among them and are inclusive rather than divisive.  They meet deadlines and budgets. They hit targets. And some.

And what else do you see?  Humor, good-natured teasing, respect commitment. Perhaps putting in extra hours.

How did this happen? To answer that question, you’ll need to examine what you do as the leader.

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