The metamorphosis of a team begins with holding up a mirror, helping the members take what for many is the first honest look they have ever had of themselves . This is done not by observing them and interpreting their behavior but by privately soliciting the input of each team member, then sharing the consolidated data with the full group .
Shortly before a team alignment, ask each team member to quantify, on an ascending scale of 1 to 5, the ways in which the team currently functions. This gives an anatomical rendering of the team as seen through the eyes of the members. These are the questions you should ask:
From "not clear" to "very clear," how would you rate the clarity of team goals?
From "not effective" to "very effective," how would you rate how effectively this team accomplishes its business goals? What would it take for you to be able to rate the team "very effective"?
From "wary, closed, with hidden agendas " to " candid , open , relaxed , easy to speak your mind," how would you rate the working atmosphere within the team?
From "independently" to "interdependently," how do you think team members currently work together? How do you think team members should be working together?
From "there is no tolerance for confrontation; conflicts are suppressed" to "tensions are surfaced, confronted, and resolved within the team," how do you think conflict is handled by the group?
From "not clear" to "very clear," how clear are you about your role/accountability on the team? Other people's roles/accountabilities?
Then, ask team members to provide qualitative data, such as:
What major obstacles prevent you from fulfilling your role on this team as effectively as possible?
Describe, in one or two words, the leadership style of your team leader.
What one suggestion would you give your team leader to increase his or her effectiveness in this position?
What are your best realistic expectations for our upcoming meeting with your team?
What are some of the things that are not working in the way the team functions? What is working?
The answers to these two sets of questions position the team on the team-development wheel. This exercise can send seismic shock waves through the team, and it is usually the team leader who is most surprised.
The effect is very powerful, as Gerard Kells, vice president of human resources for Johnson & Johnson's medical devices and diagnostics division, can attest:
When the team sees the data, they realize that it's theirs: They own it; it describes them. They realize that they all agree on the importance of functioning well as a team, and they all agree that they're not doing it. Sitting in the group, having the data fed back to you, you find out that everyone else thinks the same way you do. But nobody has ever talked about it openly before. All of sudden, everyone's true feelings have been let out, and there's no denying them, no taking them back. It's soberingand a little frightening as well.