In today’s modern business, the command and control style of management is giving way to a flatter, more agile organizational structure. Rather than relying on rigid, strict hierarchies, companies are turning to fluid, networked teams to drive innovation and customer centricity.
The Growing Influence of the “Team of Teams”
This trend towards team-based working takes some of its inspiration from the Team of Teams model pioneered by the likes of social entrepreneur and ex-McKinsey & Company consultant, Bill Drayton as well as former US General Stanley McChrystal. It’s built on the simple premise that effective decision-making within “teams of teams” happens when teams have access to fast-flowing information, which includes gathering insight from the team itself.
The Importance of Feedback
The role of “always-on” feedback is therefore critical to supporting high-performing teams. Teams take many guises from being project-based, virtual or cross-functional, to having members distributed across offices and countries. Organizations need to democratize feedback (and the tools for collecting feedback) and empower team leaders or even individual team members to gather and process information. By helping teams to diagnose and overcome problems or obstacles that may be hindering their performance, teams can take their own improvement into their own hands.
We believe there are four important strategies for using feedback effectively in this way:
1. Capture the vibe of your team by starting a simple, weekly sentiment pulse. It’s amazing how far a simple “how was your week” can take you in terms of creating a more open, feedback-driven organization.
2. Regularly collect feedback to understand the health of your team. To understand what’s inhibiting team performance, teams should take a “health check” by asking themselves, when they form and at regular intervals thereafter, the following questions:
- Does the team have sufficient resources, including budget, time, talent and training, to maximize team performance?
- Does everyone understand and buy into a set of shared goals and KPIs?
- Does everyone feel comfortable sharing ideas, expressing opinions and innovating?
- How is the team looking to enhance processes and work more effectively to improve?
- Is the team leadership motivating and inspiring the whole team to innovate and challenge the status quo?
3. If the health-check flashes amber or red, it’s time to investigate. For example, if the health check suggests resources are sparse, run a deep dive to understand why. Do team members feel they have the right tools, software, skills, training or access to third party advice? Or, if there’s an issue with sharing and expressing opinions, explore whether trust is in issue. Are team members holding grudges or don’t feel they can be creative in front of others? Employees generally find it easier to share potentially uncomfortable information such as this via anonymous online surveys, than discussing them in person or in groups. Fixing must be done in the open though.
4. Be ready to act. Democratizing feedback isn’t just about asking and collecting insights, it’s about sharing and discussing the findings openly as a team. Gone are the days of the leadership team seeing the results and slowly filtering these down through the ranks on their own terms. Once an action plan has been agreed, team members should be kept updated on progress so that they can rate and comment on how effective the solutions are. In other words, there should be feedback loops built-in, so team members can have a say on whether the decisions or actions being taken are actually working.
Regular and relevant feedback helps teams improve. It plays an important role in helping them to analyze strengths and weaknesses and pinpoint problems or areas for development. It empowers teams to overcome obstacles and come up with solutions so that they can improve and become a smarter team as a result. To learn more about how Questback is already helping teams to revolutionize their performance, take a look at our team performance brochure.