Everyone loves being in a team.
From account teams and project teams to finance teams, sports teams and chess teams.
Apart from people who hate being on a team, that is.
People who like to do things their own way and preferably on their own.
But who end up on a team anyway.
Too often, team is a word erroneously applied to what is simply a group of people who meet fairly regularly and work on the same thing. But not necessarily together. Sometimes against each other.
So how do the teams that you’re on shape up?
Are you a member of a Dream Team, or are notions of team just a dream – sometimes a very bad dream?
Answer the ten questions below by choosing the option that is closest to the way your team operates. Tot up your score as you go along, teenage-mag style. And then see if the conclusions ring any bells.
1. Your team’s having a long meeting. There’s a coffee break. Which of these is closest to what happens?
a. Heads down and silence – it’s e-mail checking time (1 point)
b. E-mail checking plus a bit of stilted conversation (3 points)
c. Lively conversations about what’s been agreed, what’s coming up and some personal stuff too (5 points)
2. What happens if something goes wrong on your team’s project?
a. There’s a lot of shouting and recrimination (1)
b. We don’t make too much of a fuss and try to show support of those involved (3)
c. We discuss what went wrong and try to learn how to avoid a repeat (5)
3. When did you last celebrate success?
a. The 12th of never (1)
b. Ages ago (3)
c. Last week – the last time we surpassed our targets (5)
4. What do you know about your teammates?
a. Their name – at least most of them (1)
b. Their name, and their role and responsibilities in the team (3)
c. Their name and what they do – at work and out of work too! (5)
5. Which of these best describes your team meetings?
a. No agenda and no clear actions (1)
b. A loosely followed agenda and some actions (3)
c. Clear agenda; clearly minuted actions (5)
6. How do you feel about your team meetings?
a. I dread them (1)
b. I tolerate them (3)
c. I really look forward to them (5)
7. Is everyone on the team clear about what you’re trying to achieve?
a. Not clear at all (1)
b. Give me a minute, I’ll get there… (3)
c. Crystal clear (5)
8. What would happen if your team cancelled its next three meetings?
a. We’d get lots more done (1)
b. No change (3)
c. The project would fall apart (5)
9. How often does the team openly and honestly review its progress?
a. Never (1)
b. Rarely (3)
c. As a matter of routine (5)
10. If team members were asked why the team exists, would they most likely say…
a. We like to spend time in meetings (1)
b. We get together to share information and updates (3)
c. By coming together, we are more than the sum of our parts (5)
Scores on the doors
10-15 points: You don’t need telling that you’re enduring time in a dysfunctional team. But a supervisor, or a boss or someone in HR might need telling, and your call might just help to nudge things along to a better place for you and your colleagues.
16-24 points: Welcome to Team Typical – good and not so good in places. Asking open, and inclusive questions with a light touch well help to take the team to the next level. Try: ‘Is it just me, or does anyone else need a reminder of the original brief here?’ Or, ‘When Sarah joins the team next week, why don’t we use that as an excuse to pop out for lunch?’
25-30 points: Enjoy! Your high-performing team is set for great things. But beware complacency and keep an eye on feedback loops and de-briefing processes.