September 26

How's your team?


One of the challenges with any team is getting an objective view of what’s really going on.

As every team is different, there’s never a ‘one size fits all’ solution. (and hence why I love sitting down with team managers to explore their unique situation and developing creative solutions together).

Richard Beckhard published a paper on a model for team performance back in 1972. The model, which is sometimes (incorrectly!) referred to as the ‘GRIP’ model, proposed that team performance depends on clarity of Goals, Roles, Processes and Interactions. As is the way with academia, someone else picked this up and did some further work with it. That person was Noel Tichy, who in 1998 found that there is an 80:20 ratio of conflicts that accumulate at each level.

Impact of unclear goals.

So 80% of a teams conflicts are due to having unclear goals. In turn, 80% of the remaining 20% (ie 16%) are due to unclear roles and so on. This gives us a cascade of 80%, 16%, 3% and 1% at each level. More importantly, it means that if goals are unclear, then roles will be unclear, and so on. Bottom line: its crucial to have clarity in each level, but most importantly of all, in the goal itself. If a picture might help, then have a look at this.

What’s also important to note is the cascading effect and the reverse implications of it. By that I mean, if there are conflicts at an interpersonal level, that could indicate a lack of clarity in processes, and so on up.

So what do you do if you think you have got clear goals, roles and processes, yet there’s still bickering in the troops? Well, in my experience, this comes down to one of two things:

  • a lack of mutual understanding
  • a lack of ability in having difficult conversations.

Mutual understanding

Mutual understanding comes from mutual knowledge and a shared vocabulary, which you can get from using a profiling tool. There are, of course, many to choose from, the most famous of which is MBTI. I’m not a big fan of it though. (but I do have an associate who is certified in MBTI if that’s important to you). Instead, I certified in the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Bizarrely, Dr Keirsey was the person who brought the work of Myers and Briggs to public attention way back in 1978. More about his work can be found here. Sadly he died in 2013, strangely enough, on my birthday 🙁

I prefer KTS-ii because:

  1. It’s based on observable traits (use of words, use of tools)
  2. It’s easy to understand and remember (just ask anyone who’se done MBTI what their type is. If they did it over a month ago, they wont be able to remember ! KTS-ii participants remember even years afterwards)
  3. You can take the official survey for free!

(Rather than include a detailed description of KTS-ii here, you can find a presentation over here on Slideshare.)

So one thing you could do is have each team member take the survey, and then simply plot their types onto a 4-box grid.

Notice that the opportunities for misunderstandings are across the diagonals (e.g. folk who use concrete language and do ‘what works’ [Artisans] will find it difficult to understand those who use abstract language and do ‘what’s expected’ [Idealists] ), and have a really open conversation about what’s happening. At the very least, you’ll get a conversation going; and at best, everyone will start to understand themselves and each other better so that when things don’t go as smoothly as they might, they can step back and consider it from a different perspective.

I routinely combine a team-mapping and team-visioning activity as part of a team-development event. If you’re interested, contact me for more details.

That's all for today. If you've questions or comments, drop me a line below or get in touch.


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