Many organizations struggle with how to tell if their teams are effective. Others who are just starting teams or have had working teams for some time wonder what type of new or follow-up training they should provide to the teams in order ensure effectiveness. Both needs can be met by developing a method of evaluating the teams.
Each team should participate separately in the evaluation process and it would be best if the individual member’s participation is anonymous so members do not feel pressured to rank everything as going well. Anonymity will aid honesty in the process. A process without honesty will not yield valuable information nor help lead to the desired results.
The easiest and quickest method for individual evaluations is a form-based survey. A standard form will provide a way to continually monitor the team needs on a quarterly basis. A good standard evaluation will also make it easier to compare teams since all teams will be measured in the same way for training purposes. A good team evaluation form will ask questions about team roles, meetings, and group performance with numbered rankings to determine training needs. An example ranking could be 1 for team always does this, 2 for often does, 3 for sometimes, 4 for occasionally does, and 5 for never does this. For individual team growth, the evaluation form may also include space for questions specific to the type of team, such as project completion issues or work team attitudes and behavior.
Asking questions about the team and assigning ranks will help to determine if additional training is needed. If the example ranks above are used, then where the team ranks a question at a very high number, this would indicate a need for immediate training in this area. If the rankings are very low numbers, then additional training may not be needed or can wait until the team decides it is needed. For a middle ranking, the team does need some training, but the need is not as immediate unless the ranking changes.
What type of training is necessary based on evaluation rankings? If the ranks were associated with roles, training to offer can include soft skills like leadership, methods for encouraging participation, conflict resolution, time management, team stages and roles, communication, giving and receiving performance feedback., interpersonal skills, personality differences, diversity, or education on empowerment with authority and accountability. Technical skills that may be required for specific members doing certain roles include taking minutes or writing progress reports, computer applications, organization, quality and statistics. For meetings, the higher rank should indicate the team needs training in holding effective meetings, decision-making, or techniques for idea generation and problem solving.
Questions related to group performance could indicate a need for a facilitated process to aid in developing group purpose or mission statement and goal-setting. Or training in time management, project planning/management and possibly detailed instruction on procedures, process flow analysis, or policy may be required. If specific team category questions were added, the resulting numbers for those questions will determine the specialized training necessary. For example an Information Technology project team may need project management training or some members may need training on a specific computer language or application. Whereas a team of change agents or a problem solving team may need change management, customer service, domain analysis, or problem solving techniques.
After the training has been taken by the team members and after a few months have passed. Re-evaluate the team to determine if the training is being effectively used or if a refresher is needed. Keeping team performance evaluated and the members trained are keys to successfulness and effectiveness of teams in an organization.