Let's say you were one of fourteen executives on a team whose responses have been analyzed , with the following results. What would you think?
On a 1-to-5 scale, no one rated the clarity of the team's goals higher than 3, and eight of the fourteen rated it lower. Comments included "no common goals have been established for the team" and "clear from a functional perspective, but not from a team perspective."
When it came to the team's effectiveness in accomplishing its business goals, once again no scores of 4 or 5 were given. Eleven of the fourteen team members rated its effectiveness below 3. They explained, "We are still in functional silos ," "There aren't many opportunities to work as a team," and "I work well with some, but with others it's a struggle." To reach optimum effectiveness, they said, they needed a unified team strategy rather than separate functional strategies; increased trust across the team; more opportunities for interaction; and more open , honest communication with one another.
Eleven team members judged the team's atmosphere to be below 2: wary, closed, and fraught with hidden agendas . The remaining three individuals gave it a rating of 3: "People appear very polite, reluctant to confront."
While the entire group said it needed to work interdependently, only one person gave the team a 4 in this area; the majority of the other members' ratings were 1 or 2. Comments referred to the fact that there was "no clear interdependence or common purpose, therefore, no reason to interact as a team," and that team members "have independent agendas based on individual business needs."
Following the pattern, eleven team members said that there was no tolerance for confrontation, and conflicts were suppressed rather than dealt with. Only one person gave the team a 4 on this one. The accompanying comments reveal how strongly the team felt about this suppression: "The real issues don't get addressed; instead, we focus on superficial issues"; "Art does not like conflict, and that's partly why we don't get into it"; "There's not enough in it for me to take the risk and raise issues with the team"; "We generally deal with issues off-line."
The picture was slightly less dismal when it came to roles and accountabilities, but the majority of the team still rated their clarity with regard to their individual role and the other members' roles 3 or less, saying, "The team roles have never been formally articulated " and "Our functional roles are generally clearer than our team roles."
After reviewing this data you would no doubt conclude that this team's performance was encumbered by a large amount of "space junk," as one team member put it. It is a stage-one team no one would mind competing against.
In reality, Art's team, as it was tellingly referred to"Patton's army" might be a rough equivalentwas a group of fourteen executives who ran the sizeable North American R&D operation of a major food company. The ratings and comments we summarized are not uncommon; in fact, they are fairly representative of the data collected in initial meetings. And, although they indicate that a team has a great deal of work to do, the fact that the team " tells it like it is" shows that there is hope they will let go of the past and move ahead.