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Diagnose with this team performance model

In order to help any business team, we need a team performance model to first understand which factors are constraining its performance. This diagnostic will then allow to design an intervention to help the team obtain better results. The model we have developed is adapted from Schwarz (Schwarz 1994) and Senge (Senge 1994). For each part of this model, there are related team performance improvement techniques.

The "classical part" of the model, illustrated below, contains the following elements:
classical model 
The team Performance, which is built from the Results of the team Actions, contains three parts:

  1. First , the actual performance of the team products and/or services against the  team (internal and/or external) clients expectations
  2. Then, the development of the team capacity to continue to deliver and improve its performance over time in a changing environment
  3. And the capacity of the team to meet its member's need for motivating and engaging work.

The team Context is then defined in interaction with its environment around the performance. This context includes the team mission, its vision, the feedback mechanisms about the client expectations and the team performance, other information exchanges with the team environment - including the management of stake holders and boundaries - and the support - facilities, training ... - the team receives from its environment.

The team uses a Structure to meet the performance expectations within its context. The structure contains the team objectives, the team membership, the members roles ans responsibilities and the team espoused norms and values.

And the team uses a series of Processes leading to its actions with their results. A partial list of processes includes problem analysis and solving, decision making, action planning, results monitoring and action corrections ... There is a strong underlying assumption behind this "classical" team performance model: the team has a (very) limited freedom to influence its context, modify its structure and (re)create its processes. This assumption is obviously not valid for many business teams - management teams and project teams - who do have a (large) freedom to meet their performance expectations.

But these teams are often not using this freedom as they perceive themselves in the "classical" model above: they do not learn fast enough in their changing environment.So we must explicitly extend the team performance model with the team learning elements, as illustrated below.
learning based model
The first pilar for team learning is Self Mastery : the capacity of each team member to increase her own self-awareness and to evolve her own skills and behaviors for improving the team performance. This includes the understanding of the perception the other team members have about me (360 feedback) and of my work preferences and their consequences (Myers Briggs).  

The second pilar for team learning is Mutual Learning : the capacity of all team members to learn together to evolve their processes, structure, and - at least partially - their context for improving the team performance. This includes the capacity to give and receive feedback.

Under these two pilars lies the foundation for team learning and team performance : Constructive interactions. But we are often unconscious of our team interactions and we use defensive interactions instead of constructive ones : mutual learning, self mastery, team learning and team performance are then severely degraded in a team with poor performance. Interactions are hidden under the "water line" of our consciousness : team learning and performance depend crucially from creating team awareness of these interactions and bringing them above the "water line".

The team performance model includes also a series of ground rules for high performance teams. The following extensive list comes from Schwarz (Schwarz 1994) and is clustered by the model elements:


  • Exchange relevant information with non-team members


  • All members do participate in all phases of the discussions
  • Make decisions by consensus

  • Jointly design ways to test disagreements and solutions

Mutual learning
  • Share all relevant information

  • Disagree openly with any member of the team

  • Do self-critiques

  • Focus on interets, not positions

  • Be specific - use examples

  • Explain the reasons behind one's statements, questions and actions

  • Make statements, then invite questions and comments

Constructive interactions

  • Agree on what important words mean

  • Test assumptions and inferences

  • Keep the discussion focused

  • Do not distract the team members

  • Discuss undiscussable issues

Return from team performance model  to team building techniques

Return from team performance model  to team building results

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