Building a team from scratch is a rare privilege that few CEOs get to experience. Inheriting an executive team is more the norm. The functioning state of a team can be ubiquitous. A newly acquired team could be at any stage of the forming, storming, or norming process. It could consist mostly of people who like to take action, or people who are skeptical. It could include a majority of those who like to analyze every detail, or those who chase the next shiny, new management fashion, process, or business trend. Not every leader has the ability of accurately judging others. How can a CEO build on such chaos?
It used to be that teambuilding was composed of exercises just to help everyone get along and tolerate one another. For example, one exercise might be for each team member to tell two truths and a lie about oneself. Then, everyone else has to guess which fact is the lie. Another exercise is to tell the team about some item you brought with you and explain why you brought it and what it means to you thus providing “deep” insight into your psyche or personality. Obviously, this is a facetious observation. The point is that while these types of exercises might have their place and purpose, cultivating a highly functioning team with true insight and understanding requires a more scientific approach.
What does it take to have an executive group develop the depth of knowledge required to be a true highly functioning team? Having each team member know the other members better is a start. However, the knowledge must extend beyond the superficial highlights of explaining why you carry your grandfather’s lucky rabbit foot, or why you always have a certain tube of lipstick at hand. This type of information is not only non-scientific, it does not address a basic, yet essential component of the team and that is the purpose of a team.
Once the purpose of a team has been established, and understood by the team members, then the CEO as well as the team can begin to analyze if the right people are on the team and if they have the skills and attributes to carry out the mission of the team and the organization. How is this accomplished?
One way is through an interviewing process by an external consultant. This is time consuming and expensive. Administering 360o assessments is another way that is less time consuming and less expensive. The drawback here is that the team receives a one-sided view, OK, several one-sided views. For example, the CEO may not be at the same location as the employee being assessed. Even if the superior and the subordinate team members are at the same location, the superior may not have opportunities to observe the subordinate. The challenge with the executive team’s self-review is that people often rate themselves too low or too high. Peer reviews may come from team members who are not at all familiar with the other team members’ tasks and responsibilities. Some sources suggest that this should be conducted two or three times annually for a more accurate reading. This is time consuming and creates additional expense. Moreover, depending on the organization, peer reviews can lead to tension and communication breakdowns. This may be particularly true if a team member takes the opportunity to be vindictive in the comments section of the assessment.
Administering valid, reliable and scientifically based assessments is one of the more effective, much less expensive, accurate and much less time-consuming avenues for team analysis. The information is more accurate as the questionnaires deliver an unbiased assessment of each team member. The instruments assess a real, unique position in the same areas for a relevant comparison of each team member. In addition, the on-line system immediately generates individual reports that are designed to provide useful, easily interpreted information that initiates personal and professional growth. Descriptive statements and paragraphs explain the results, which are divided into several key areas. The reports also include graphs that are easy to understand and help individuals visualize the results of their behaviors, motivators or personal skills assessment. Assessment results are also delivered in statistical fashion that provides more information to trained experts. This analysis in relation to the situation at hand will allow for a more in-depth review as to whether this team has the attributes and skills necessary to fulfill the team’s purpose.
In addition, for an even better picture, a team analysis report is generated to ensure a complete and accurate picture of the team. A team analysis report allows the CEO a better understanding as to whether each team member has the attributes and skills necessary to fulfill the team’s purpose. For example, the CEO will know immediately if there are too many analyzers or not enough persuaders on his or her executive team. If projects are not moving forward, the CEO will be able to determine if there are too many delegators and not enough implementers on the executive staff. The CEO can then decide if positions should be rotated, new ones generated, or refilled with a better match for the team’s purpose and the organization’s mission. Analyzing and rebuilding teams in this manner is far more efficient, cost effective, accurate and produces results that do not need to be repeated and last far into the future.
If you have the luxury of building a team from scratch or if you are looking at rebuilding a current team, these same valid, reliable and scientifically based tools will work for you.