Team Development

Assessing a Team’s Readiness for Development

Some of us can only imagine what a productive, high-functioning team might look and feel like.  Others know firsthand and wish that they can replicate it again with other teams. There are many upsides to a high performing team, but not every team is ready to do the hard work.  Is your team ready?  Here are 7 factors to determine a team’s readiness for development.

Every team wants to perform, but
not every team is ready to do the hard work.

  1. Is there a Vision? Like any goal, unless the team has a clear picture of what it wants to achieve and why it’s important, it will be a confusing, frustrating, and disappointing journey.  The simple questions to ask: Does the team have a clear vision for itself?  Can they imagine the team making better, faster decisions? Do they see themselves achieving goals and getting great results? Do they hear the lively discussions and productive debates? Do they see themselves as a high performing, cohesive team?
  2. Are they prepared to do whatever it takes? A team with a clear vision and optimistic outlook will muster up the energy and the time to do whatever it takes to get things right. Is this team ready for “heavy lifting”? While the advantages of being a high-functioning team are huge, it can only be achieved if the team is willing to invest the time and emotional energy in the team’s development process. It won’t work if the team is looking only for shortcut fixes and half-baked measures.
  3. Is the team really a TEAM? Not every group in an organization is a team. A group that appears to be a team might simply be a collection of people who report to the same manager, but who have little interdependence and mutual accountability. If the group isn’t a true team, any development effort is unlikely to produce the results they expect.
  4. Is the leader committed to building a team? For a team to be successful, the leader must understand the power of teamwork and be prepared to lead the effort in terms of setting an example and dedicating time to it. Many leaders who seem uninterested in teamwork are often just skeptical about the possibility of achieving it or afraid that acknowledging the need for it might reflect poorly on them. In these cases, success is possible as long as team leaders are willing to start the process with good intentions.
  5. Is this the right time? You may want to consider postponing team development efforts if any of the following situations exist:
    • There is about to be a significant change in the nature of the team. The time is probably not right if several team members are leaving or the team’s responsibilities are about to change.
    • There is going to be or recently has been a significant organizational change, such as a merger, a reorganization, or a new leader.
    • The team has an unusually heavy workload with impending deadlines.
  6. Do they have a model to guide them? Not just any model.  A proven assessment-driven model that accurately and reliably measures the team’s functioning on the key behaviors and processes that will make a team truly more cohesive and high-performing.
  7. Do they have a trusted and experienced facilitator? Let’s face it, team development sessions can get intense. Members can become emotionally expressive. The team leader can get defensive. Timelines and scripts can get thrown out the window.  You want an experienced facilitator who can influence whether a team sees an uncomfortable moment through or misses out on the opportunity to grow.  A trusted guide with instincts for when to stick with the agenda and when to improvise, when to let debate play out and when to cut it short.

Tom Sullivan, MPA, Organizational Development Consultant, ProGrowth Associates LLC
Proven Assessments & Learning Solutions for a More Engaged Workforce

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