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Working in groups and teams
Working in groups and teams

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7 Reviewing and evaluating team performance

This section is one that is generally applicable to the management of people, not just groups and teams. It will help you to identify sources of conflict and the ways in which conflict can be managed. Note that not all conflict is bad: sometimes it can be constructive, if handled effectively. There are times when it is better to ignore conflict. However, in each case, you will have to use your judgement.

Evaluating team performance is an important element of team working. It can take a number of forms, such as: reporting on progress informally at weekly team meetings, group reviews at key stages along the way, and full and formal external evaluation once the project is completed. Encouraging the team to take responsibility for this evaluation process makes it much more a part of everyday work and less of a management control exercise. Managers and teams need to agree what needs to be reviewed and evaluated, how it is to be done and how it can help the team to be more successful.

Here we present a number of approaches for reviewing team progress and processes and for evaluating team effectiveness at the end of a team task or project. We suggest you use whatever seems most suitable for your purposes.

Adair’s model of team work (1983) is useful as a framework for reviewing and evaluating because it highlights the interdependency between the task, the team and the individual in achieving team effectiveness. Questions to consider are:

  • The task
    • Are there enough resources and internal and external support (external climate)?
    • Is the task fully understood? Has it been broken down sufficiently into component parts?
  • The team
    • Are there the right constituent parts to achieve the current task?
    • Has the group formed well?
    • Are team members communicating well and reviewing their progress regularly?
  • The individual
    • Are individuals learning from the experience?
    • How are they dealing with their expectations, hopes and fears of this team-work experience?
    • Are there issues from previous group-work experiences that need addressing?
    • Do they have enough support and development opportunities to perform and develop their roles?
    • Are they aware of the consequences of their individual actions in working with or against team processes?

West (2004) proposes that there are two fundamental dimensions of team functioning: the task the team is required to carry out and the social factors that influence how members experience the team as a social unit. He suggests that for both of these to work effectively teams need to:

  • review objectives and find ways of achieving them
  • reflect on the ways in which the team provides support to members, how conflicts are resolved and what the social climate of the team is like.

West has developed a questionnaire, set out in Box 9, to measure how well these two factors are working. He suggests it is completed individually without consultation. It could then be used as a means of identifying and agreeing problematic areas to work on.

Box 9 Team function questionnaire

Rate on a scale of 1 (very inaccurate) to 7 (very accurate) how each statement describes the situation in your team. Add up the scores for the task dimension and the social dimension separately. If more than one person completes the questionnaire, divide the total for each dimension by the number of people who complete the questionnaire to calculate an average for each dimension. Compare the average score for each dimension with the values shown at the end of the questionnaire. The questionnaire can also be used to compare different teams.

Task dimension

We review our objectives

We regularly discuss whether the team is working effectively together

The methods we use to get the job done are often discussed

In the team we modify our objectives in light of changing circumstances

We often change our team strategies

How well we communicate information is often discussed

We often review our approach to getting the job done

We often review the way decisions are made in the team

Social dimension

We support each other when times are difficult

When things at work are stressful the team is very supportive

Conflict doesn’t last long in this team

We often teach each other new skills

When the pressure is on, we ‘pull together’ as a team

Team members are always friendly

Conflicts are dealt with constructively

People in the team are quick to resolve arguments

High 4256

Average 3441

Low 033

(Source: adapted from West, 2004)