So many managers, owners and team leaders ask me to help them with developing their teams at work. A common struggle is the difficulty in gauging how the work team really feels about their group dynamics. Here are a few brief suggestions to help leaders evoke better evaluations from team members than “all is fine”.
First, make sure you have clearly measurable goals and milestones that allow you and your team members use to track project outcomes. Does everyone know their role in achieving these objectives? Are these expectations shared and discussed among team members on a regular basis? These are the basics – yet too often the root cause of many inhibitors to effective team work is the lack of shared goals, expectations and attitudes.
Here’s one way to help get the “straight scoop” on group process and keep your team motivated to perform at their very best: Meet with each individual on your team. Ask each person the same two questions:
- What is going well?
- What could we do to make it better?
Simply ask and then listen carefully (that means stop talking) for comments and ideas. These simple questions will help you and your team gauge how things are going and identify specific actions for continuous improvement.
Start with individual discussions. Then begin to repeat these same two questions to the group at the end of each team meeting. Don’t inappropriately fear conflict that may arise from discussing such questions; conflict handled correctly is the seed for innovation and growth. Encourage constructive, critical thinking and sharing. Acknowledge their input. Act upon it quickly, if necessary. Hold team members accountable for solutions, too. You are creating a culture where new ideas, constructive criticism and personal responsibility are welcome and appreciated.
Consistently ask these two questions and you will be surprised at a) how much you learn from the process and b) how much goodwill you will build with each team member by simply taking the time to carefully listen to what he or she has to say.
Team cultures often suffer when team members lose their common sense of purpose or develop beliefs that other team members have gone astray. Checking in with these two questions gives your team the means to stay the course, develop shared attitudes and expectations as well as actively engage in the constant improvement of team effectiveness and performance.