Understanding how people work together is far more reliable in predicting long-term success, compared to evaluating what a team produces at any given moment. Assessments of team functionality should emphasize a reflection on the dynamics of the team and depend less on measuring short-term results. This often seems counterintuitive to business leaders seeking a healthy bottom line. Surely if the results are there, can’t we just assume a team works well together?

Results are important, but business leaders need to know how a team best functions. To start, there is rarely sufficient historical quantitative data to predict achievement reliability. Think of how often teams form, disperse, and reconfigure, depending on ever-evolving project goals. In many cases, long-term quantitative data is simply not available.

Further, even if the same group has achieved good results once or twice, the outcomes may have relied on leadership qualities that were temporarily productive but ultimately destructive. For example, a manager could pressure team members in an unkind way that produces short-term successes but takes an adverse toll on organizational culture over time. Temporary quantitative gains can obscure the true picture of a team’s ongoing ability to achieve.

Quantitative results are easily measured, which may be why leaders tend to rely on them. It can be daunting to find reliable indicators of a team’s dynamics—the qualitative experiences of the team members that either inhibit or energize functionality. Even the word “qualitative” seems to suggest an imprecise subjectivity, yet there are in fact dependable self-assessments available that can accurately and reliably rate a team’s likelihood for success.

I agree with Ronald Riggio’s focus on these four processes: synergy, chemistry, presence, and professionalism. Synergy concentrates on the mutual understanding and commonality of purpose within a team, as well as the ability to collaborate fluidly toward a particular goal. Chemistry captures the positive characterization of a successful team, as assessed by both members and leaders. Presence considers the availability, punctuality, and responsiveness of members and leaders. Finally, professionalism describes the high standards a successful team maintains while working toward a common goal.

In each case, questionnaires, exercises, interviews, and outside observation can help to reliably evaluate the strengths and opportunities for growth within a team. At TGC, we specialize in team building, aiming to enhance Riggio’s four processes by using effective communication, evaluating and leveraging individual strengths, and clearly relating these strengths to team goals.

By the time sufficient quantitative results become available, team dynamics may have already become habitual and, consequently, much more difficult to modify. Rather than relying solely on data that tells a story already written, leaders also need to assess how a team works to allow for any changes and the assurance of future, long-lasting success. To learn more, contact TGC.

Photo Credit: Christina Morillo