Are you “flying blind” in understanding how your team is performing?

Struggling to find time to reflect on how the team is working together?

Here red10 ‘s Sarah Barber describes a team tool that can provide a temperature check on the reality that team members are experiencing.

What are the team not telling you?

A senior leader approached us recently to say she felt she was “flying blind” in understanding what her team were thinking and feeling about the way they were working together. It is not always easy for team members to provide feedback to the leader or each other about what is working well and what is not. We recommended this tool to her as it provides a safe approach for team members to describe the reality they are experiencing.

Gathering the feedback

We begin by conducting a half-hour phone conversation with every member of the team. We ask two open questions to get qualitative feedback :-

  1. What is working well in the team that we want to keep, protect and nurture?
  2. What do we need to do differently to make the team the best it can be?

We then ask for quantitative feedback in the form of a score between 0 and 10 on the nine dimensions of team effectiveness and an overall score.

During the conversation we help people to phrase feedback constructively e.g. by replacing a negative comment with a request for a positive opposite.

The transcript of the interview is shared with the team member to allow them to make any corrections or additions. It is not shared with anyone else.

Feedback on a page™ – Quantitative feedback

Once we have agreed transcripts from everyone, we start to compile a report. For the quantitative feedback, we work out an average and a range for each score  and present these in traffic light format on the first page of the report.

Average scores of 7.0 or above are presented as “green”. In our experience, teams that are doing well overall or in this particular dimension will return a green average score.

Average scores between 4.0 and 6.9 are presented as “amber” Teams often identify actions they could take to lift performance into the green. And they like to have the benchmark to see whether they have improved next time they use the tool.

It is rare for us to see average scores of less than 4.0, though the range may indicate that some team members have given very low scores. This provides an opportunity for a discussion about different perceptions and actions to address any issues.

Feedback on a page™ – Qualitative feedback

We look across the qualitative feedback and identify themes that three or more people have mentioned. We give the theme a name and add a number in brackets to show the number of people who have mentioned this theme. We describe the theme using people’s own words, but mixing up sentences from different people so that it is not obvious who has said what. Feedback that only one or two people have given is not lost but is recorded briefly in a category called “other”. The result is a concise summary of “working well” and “do differently” on a single side of paper.

Why do we anonymise the feedback?

Feedback is anonymised because this makes it easier for people to be frank. But even more important is that it reduces “noise” (or random variation) in expert judgements. A collection of anonymised individual judgements reduces noise because it avoids the bias introduced by cascade effects (everyone getting behind one individual) and group polarisation.

What comes next?

We share the report first with the team leader. They help us to remove any comments which might clearly identify an individual, and any comments likely to cause hurt to someone on the team. This is an important step as team feedback is unlikely to land if it causes hurt or offence. There are better ways to give constructive feedback to individuals.

We then share the report with the whole team – usually as a pre-read for a meeting. In this way everyone gains an understanding of current reality.

Responding to the feedback

At the meeting, we start by celebrating the positive – finding the themes that really resonate with people and taking time to be rightly proud of the things that are working well.

We then turn to the “Do differently” themes and ask the team to prioritise 3 or 4 themes that they would like to address. We set up sub-groups to scope out an action plan and share with the rest of the team. Following up on these action plans is then incorporated into the team’s usual ways of working.

What did our client say about Feedback On A Page™

“I love how concise it is – I don’t have to digest a multi-page report. What I like is that the report is actionable. It is great that we have seen progress since last time we did this.“

Please get in touch if you would like to use this tool to take the temperature of your team.