Team assessments help supervisors, leaders, and managers determine the effectiveness of teams within a company. They also provide an open forum for employees to share areas of improvement hindering productivity and morale.
Team performance evaluation is the application of diagnostic measurement tools to evaluate team members’ behaviors, cognitions, and attitudes about clearly operationalized criteria. Observational measurements are commonly used but are not the only means of measuring team performance.
1. Identifying Team Issues
Team assessments are often conducted when something isn’t working, but they can also provide valuable insight to managers when used prophylactically. Identifying problems before they become full-blown provides teams with the best opportunity to resolve them.
There are many different approaches to assessing teams, including those that view them as primary assets of individuals fulfilling different roles and explain team success as a function of their ability to balance these roles (think Z Process strengths or Belbin roles). Another team assessment tool examines the nature of a team’s processes (e.g., their communication, levels of trust, the practice of holding team members accountable) and the quality of a team’s outputs, treating these as proxies for overall team health.
In addition to analyzing a team’s process and outcomes, some assessment tools help team members better understand one another by exploring personality types, leadership styles, and conflict-management approaches.
Choosing a tool that fits your team’s needs and context is important. If your team is experiencing problems with communication, for example, choose an assessment that focuses on this area. Some well-regarded online team assessments cost less than $20 per person, while more sophisticated tools require an engagement with a consultant and can run into thousands of dollars.
2. Identifying Team Members’ Strengths
One of the most important things managers can do is to understand their team members’ strengths and weaknesses. This empowers them to make better hiring decisions and provides the information they need to conduct more effective performance reviews. It also helps them to develop their employees’ careers and help them grow professionally.
There are a variety of team assessment tools that can be used to determine an employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
Other team assessment tools focus on group dynamics and identifying how different personalities interact within groups. These include techniques and icebreaker activities that help team members learn more about each other. Some of these tools can be valuable for project teams that may need more time to bond through traditional methods but are still expected to perform as a cohesive unit.
Ideally, the assessment process should be conducted in a way that is not biased and allows employees to provide honest feedback. For example, 360-degree feedback is a popular assessment technique that gathers input from supervisors and colleagues to get a more comprehensive picture of an employee’s performance and effectiveness.
3. Identifying Team Members’ Weaknesses
While team assessments help to identify teams’ strengths, they also can highlight members’ weaknesses. For instance, if one member needs help communicating in meetings or tends to get bogged down by details, this can impact the team’s overall productivity. A team assessment can bring this to light so managers can work with the individual to improve these weaknesses, perhaps through coaching or additional training.
In addition to individual professional assessments, such as MBTI and the Enneagram, which focus on core motivations and fears, several team-focused tools can be useful. One is the DISC assessment, which identifies different work and communication styles. Regardless of the tool, however, some teams put too much emphasis on them and need to catch up on what is happening in their teams. This is where a skilled facilitator can add value, helping the team see beyond their differences and come together toward common goals.
4. Identifying Team Members’ Opportunities
If assessing an existing team, stick to simple tools the members can quickly understand. Icebreakers work well here but consider using an assessment tool that helps team members understand how they approach different situations.
For new teams, focus on building trust and understanding among the members. An assessment to address specific issues is only feasible once the basic team bond is established. Practical, outcome-oriented assessments that are easy to understand and use work best with new teams.
Some team assessment tools examine the nature of a team’s processes, treating them as proxies for overall team health (think Belbin roles). Others are more focused on individuals, looking at how they contribute to the success of a project or the quality of a team member’s work.
Many traditional team assessment tools require the involvement of a consultant who oversees the process, explains the results, and drafts action plans. However, you can reduce the cost by conducting a do-it-yourself assessment with a few basic team-building tools and low-cost software packages that allow managers to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
5. Enhancing Team Cohesiveness
A good assessment can reveal how team members communicate well, support each other and work together cohesively. It can also highlight how the team handles conflict.
The best time to conduct a team assessment is early in the team’s formation before problems develop and relationships get tangled up.
Teams that are already established can also benefit from an assessment, especially if it’s focused on building trust. Trust assessments measure various determinants of team trust, including comfort with intimacy, reliability, integrity and loyalty. Other assessments focus on leadership and behavior styles, such as assessing team leader’s ability to build trust.
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