How do you launch a team so that it has the best shot at success? Two components of a successful team are an effective kickoff strategy and a 360-degree team assessment.
Sometimes when we put teams together within an organization, hopes are high and so are the stakes. The organization has a cash investment and an expectation the team’s work will generate revenues. How do we increase the chances that this team will achieve its goals?
Let’s say that you have a team of 15 people and a project manager that reports up to you. Through the budgeting process, you have allocated $750,000 for a six month period to develop a new product that you have long advocated has the potential of increasing your market share by 25%.
You know there are gaps in the team’s skillsets, with some of the team who don’t connect well with each other, jockeying for position, some borderline disruptive behavior, and garden variety mediocrity. It’s not a great team, but you know that it has the potential to achieve its objectives through an effective strategy, great execution, and a lot of luck. The team has the potential to grow and get better.
There are telltale signs of gaps in their skillset, like unexplained instances when balls get dropped, project flow slows, deadlines are missed, feathers get ruffled, and also some things where it just feels off, but you can’t put your finger on them.
At this point, in the beginning of a new project, you need a good kickoff strategy and a team-level directed 360-degree Team Assessment. Here is the way it works:
1. An effective kickoff team session. It’s very important not to “slide into the project” without a comprehensive strategy kickoff (orienting team members with memos and emails won’t cut it). Without a precisely planned and executed kickoff session, different parts of the team will likely spiral out of control with everyone doing great work, but with an output and a product that aren’t cohesive.
The team has to have a clear understanding of the project objectives, roles, communication vehicles, and update mechanisms. We’ve seen lots of teams that lost enormous amounts of time and money due to retrofitting aspects of the project that could (and should) have been cohesive from the beginning.
2. The 360-degree assessment. About 30 days into the project is the time to do a 360-degree assessment, which is the most effective way to solidify project direction, progress, and the team. As of this writing, the 360-degree assessment is the only way to develop a comprehensive set of data that will draw from the team’s knowledge to:
- Get a sense of the team’s belief if the project is going “right direction” or “wrong direction,”
- Understand if the team’s capabilities are effective, and where there are gaps in the technical skillset,
- Determine where communications flow and where signal strength weakens or fails,
- Judge how team members see the effectiveness of other team members and of their contribution to the team,
- Determine if there are issues specific to team members where a team member needs coaching to be more effective in a role, and
- Take a snapshot of the “elephants in the room,” the often politically-charged things that should be obvious for all to see, often aren’t seen, or just can’t be mentioned.
The deployment of a team is like a sports franchise: franchises pay an enormous about of money for players they hope will be stars, and they invest in them up front, via effective coaching and day-after-the-game playbacks. In organizations, we wait until the team is failing, and then get everyone together to see what went wrong.
Effective deployment of a team ensures success and saves money in terms of lost time and failure. Begin upfront to win -it’s cheaper and more effective.
To discuss how a customized 360-degree assessment can be a game changer for you and your teams, give us a call at (512) 498-9780 or contact us here.