Team Effectiveness in Action: A Real Life Case Example

The Situation: Tom was leading a new business unit for a Fortune 500 insurance company. He had several new hires to integrate into his leadership team, and an organizational governance structure that needed to change based on evolving demands of the external competitive landscape. He needed to strengthen his leadership team’s collective effectiveness, and their ability to work together as an aligned and cohesive team.

The Intervention: Tom came to us with the desire to analyze the current state of his leadership team, and outline a path forward for the future. He had a group of eleven direct reports, four of which, were brand new to the team. He also had two areas of the business that were recently added under his leadership, and needed to get the team focused on shared goals and outcomes. After our initial discussions, we determined that it was critical to get a current state of his organization through a team assessment process, and then use this data to build a team development outline for the next year.

The team assessment processes consisted of several components. First, we gave all team members a team effectiveness survey that examined the following dimensions: a) the culture of the team; b) their ability to connect, build relationships, and adapt to changing circumstances; c) making collective business decisions efficiently; d) driving disciplined focus and effort to drive important priorities; and e) designing the team with agility to allow for the most effective forms of execution possible. Next, we conducted 45-minute interviews with each leader to learn about their areas of the business, and better understand their leadership style, strengths, and opportunities. Lastly, we had each team member complete a leadership personality inventory that explored their talent and capabilities, their derailing behaviors, and their leadership values and beliefs.

We reviewed and aggregated all of this individual and team data, and shared the initial findings with Tom. Based on the feedback, we partnered with him to build four two-day off-sites that would be conducted with the team over the course of the following year. The goal was to have one off-site per quarter, with a specific focus and desired outcome towards moving the team forward. The first off-site was to share the feedback from the team assessment process. Team members were given individual feedback on their leadership personality inventories, and the collective team feedback was reviewed and discussed in an open-forum session. The second off-site focused on setting the operating culture, team norms, and governance structure. We focused on setting the operating procedures for the team (e.g., who had authority and decision-making rights for key initiatives, using metrics to evaluate progress against goals), optimizing talent capabilities of all its members, and driving alignment across major priorities. The third off-site focused on building stronger relationships between team members. Here, we spent time building trust, reviewing individual and collective strengths and opportunities, and shaping the team climate and relationship culture. The final off-site was for a one-year pulse check analysis. We reviewed progress against goals outlined in off-site one, conducted an open-forum discussion on what the team had done well over the last year, and what changes need to be made to drive greater success in the future. We closed by outlining the top priorities at an individual and team level for the following year.

The Outcome: Tom was successful in integrating the four new members into his leadership team. Together, they had collectively outlined key team priorities for the year and tracked progress against these objectives. The team also developed a strong operating rhythm and governance structure for managing performance. Lastly, team members developed a deeper understanding of each other’s strengths and leadership styles. This enabled trust to develop across the team. Tom believed in the collective energy and capability of his team. Through his buy-in and support of the team assessment and development process, he was able to maximize his peoples’ effectiveness and achieve their collective desired outcomes.

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__ Leadership Matters. Without It, People Fail.__