The 9 Questions Model of Team Effectiveness

The 9 Questions Model of Team Effectiveness

The high-performing, high-learning team

Where do high-performing, high-learning teams come from? If you believe the status quo, it’s a simple question of starting with the right people, a bit of social ‘team building’, and then hours clocked working together… and hey presto, a High-Performing Team. That’s what we find most team leaders do: put together or join a team, book a team-build, maybe run through a psychometric if you’re a fan of data, and then get down to business. Even if you’re holding regular retrospectives, you’ve probably found these focusing on the tasks the team performs, rather than the effectiveness of the team itself.

At CharacterScope, we see team development as a continuing journey, one that is unique to each team, and delivers real and significant performance benefits. It can be enjoyable, frustrating at times, and deeply rewarding. We find the 9 Questions Model of Team Effectiveness is both a perfect starting point for teams keen to develop themselves and become a high-performing, high-learning team, as well as a continued roadmap on the journey. It’s a way of providing structure and direction to your team development.

The 9 Questions model builds directly out of the 9 Leader types from the CharacterScope framework, so the more familiar you are with the CharacterScope framework, the easier a team will find it to orientate its development. But even in its own right, the questions asked by the model can turn a team’s focus to what is important to develop right now.

The 9 Questions

So, we have 9 straightforward questions to ask you and your team:

  1. are we disciplined in working to improve our effectiveness and performance?
  2. do we know where we are going and believe we are doing something meaningful?
  3. do we know how to achieve our goals?
  4. do we get the best from each other?
  5. do we push through obstacles and setbacks?
  6. do we know who to influence and how?
  7. do we spot and capture opportunities along the way?
  8. have we brought our purpose to life and feel motivated?
  9. do we create and innovate?

If you have got clear and positive answers to all of them, and if the rest of your team and stakeholders agree with you – congratulations! You’re already a guaranteed high-performance, high-learning team. Of course, there’s plenty you can do to keep honing your edge as a team, finding ways of keeping yourselves sharp and finding routes to break-through performance.

Let’s explore the different elements…

Team disciplines

We often find ourselves returning to the central question in the model: to the team disciplines. These are disciplines that form the core of team performance and development. 

Why disciplines? Quite simply, if you watch any sports team, music group, theatre group or any other performance group you will see one clear difference to most business teams. It’s that they rehearse, practice and train together so that, come their performance, they are as united and as effortless in playing together as possible.

By contrast, most teams in business and organisational life focus the vast majority of their time on performing the task at hand and very little on the disciplines of development: working at getting better at working together.

New teams

If you’re a new team, or new to team leadership, the chances are you won’t know the definitive answer to the 9 Questions yet, so we would usually recommend you focus your energies initially on the ‘foundational four’ questions:

Exploring these questions will help you rapidly create a team that is clear what its purpose is, feels motivated to achieve its goals, has a good enough idea how to reach these goals, and has set a foundation of inclusion and valuing of each team member’s contribution.

The performing team

If you’re a team that’s been together for a while, there’s a good chance you’re already clear about your goals and what you need to do to get there. You may also be clear about each team members’ role and contribution, how the team can get the best from each other. In other words, the ‘foundational four’ questions are clear to you.

But you may feel that there’s a performance break-through your team needs to achieve, in which case the ‘central three’ questions could be just what you need.

The established team

If your team is well established and has been performing strongly for a while, it may be time to shake the team up a bit and see if it can find new opportunities, new innovations, new energy to take itself to the next level.

Exploring these four questions will guide you as a team to find fresh energy and inspiration.

Team Effectiveness Review

A structured way to start is with what we call a ‘team effectiveness review’: it’s a quick way of getting your team’s views on the 9 Questions and serves as a diagnostic as to where your team should focus its development. You can answer as team members, but also ask customers and other stakeholders outside of the team whose opinion you value.

At its simplest, just rate each question on a scale of 1-10, then go back and pick a single question which you think represents a key strength that your team should cherish, and finally pick a single question which represents the area the team most needs to improve. Where is there consensus amongst respondents? What are the different perspectives?

You can visualise the results in several different ways. Here’s an example that shows the spread of responses you might get:

Why wait?

The 9 Questions Model of Team Effectiveness is designed to give you a comprehensive road-map to creating a high-performance, high-learning team: a team that combines Team Unity (having a united and strong identity) and Team Fluency (being great at playing to each others’ strengths).

Starting with a team effectiveness review, holding a workshop to explore the results, then choosing an area to focus on is a great way to kick-start your team’s development. If you’re already a CharacterScope member, take a look at the 9 Questions Model playlist to begin, otherwise try a free 14-day of CharacterScope Teams and get started on your own team journey.

What type of leader do you have the potential to be?

What type of leader do you have the potential to be?

Understanding yourself and your potential as a leader.

Completing a CharacterScope Self-Review is your opportunity to discover yourself as a leader.

Like working with any good coach, the starting point is a thorough review:

  • What are your strengths?
  • Your gaps?
  • Which of the 9 Leader Types is your best fit?
  • Is this in line with your aspirations as a leader?

The CharacterScope 9 Leader Types

Each type has a unique way of leading and inspiring those around them. The below explanations can help you decide your aspirational leader types.

If you want to find out more about how CharacterScope can support your development click here.

The Innovator

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”

Miles Davis – Jazz musician

They are willing to think the unthinkable, make connections others miss, good at anticipating how the world may change and are willing to make bold, game-changing decisions, even at the risk of failure or seeming foolish.

The Entrepreneurial leader

“It was so hard to get a record deal on my own that it was either give up or create my own company.” Jay Z – Music, recording, clothing, sports agency They are great at spotting the potential in situations and have the network of contacts, personal resourcefulness and determination to follow through and turn possibilities into reality.
The Executional leader

“Done is better than perfect” Sheryl Sandberg – Business leader, author The Executional leader is focused and driven to achieve great results. They will work tirelessly on a challenging task until it is completed, galvanising and driving the efforts of others, often with little or no regard for relationships or workplace politics.
The Practical Leader

“It is far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”

Warren Buffet – Investor

They are great at translating strategy into practical results, with a strong feel for what will work in the real world. They balance the short-term with the long-term, bringing a sustained focus on improving the quality, reliability and effectiveness of whatever they are leading.

The Strategist

“The financial service industry is a service industry. It should service others before itself.”

Christine Lagarde. MD, IMF

They provide strategic clarity to people and organisations. They are valued for their judgement, their wisdom about what is going on and their insight about what needs to happen to move a difficult task forward, unstick a relationship, or handle a tricky people situation.
The Servant leader

 

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”

Nelson Mandela – Statesman, South Africa

The Servant Leader gets their own ego out of the way and focuses on the team and organisation around them. They pull people together around shared goals, recognise and play to people’s strengths and inspire teams to perform strongly. Many come to personify the team, to embody its core values and identity.

The Transformational Leader

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition”

Steve Jobs – Apple

They are great at leading people and organisations through change. Some deliver change in processes, products and structures, but the best are just good at changing beliefs, mind-sets and culture.

The Charismatic leader
“Don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” Michelle Obama – Former First Lady, lawyer and writer They seem to pull people towards them – who are drawn by their inner convictions and vision. The best create inspiration, energy and change for people, generating a sense of possibilities and potential.
The Professional

“Always be more than you appear and never appear to be more than you are.”

Angela Merkel – Politician, Germany

Professionals are known for their commitment to mastery of their chosen subjects and their determination to deliver on whatever personal commitments they make. They work with great energy, drive and focus in the service of others.