Have you got a crack team?

7 leadership questions for management success

Am I well positioned with my team – or is there a need for action?

This pressing question occupies the minds of many managers and project managers, yet it isn’t easy to answer across the board. How do I determine whether or not my team is “good”?

Here at CONTRACT, we’ve found it helpful to ask 7 crucial leadership questions to provide an honest evaluation of teams’ efficiency, success and future proofing.

So the next time you want to know if your team is on track to achieve its goals – or whether it’s in dire need of an intervention – use our Team Navigator and ask yourself these 7 crucial questions for leadership and management success:

1. Vision, strategy and goals:
Do all three components exist for the orientation of the team? Are they known to everyone in the team – and does everyone stand behind them?

Yes: 1 down, 6 to go.

No: A team’s key to success is investment. Each team member needs to understand the team’s vision, strategy and goals — and how they fit. Call your team together and define the vision; provide the context for the team’s efforts (the ‘why’) and ask for members’ input about what goals should be and how to achieve them (strategy).

What is their dream role, the task they want to take on? What impact will the strategy have on them? What will be exciting for them moving forward?

Once vision, strategy and goals have been created and defined, your team will stand behind them, as they have created them. (More on the benefits of employee engagement HERE).

2. Roles & distribution of tasks:
Are they clear and distributed in accordance with your team members’ strengths (and workloads)?

Yes: Well done! This is no easy task.

No: Hold regular meetings to discuss workload – who gets allocated which tasks, who has spare capacity, who is overloaded, who is an expert?

Moreover, encourage multi-skilling – this helps in times where workload varies for different people. It also widens people’s scope and skill, and makes them more eligible for other roles in the future.

3. Processes & working methods:
Are they currently running smoothly – and are they suitable for future requirements?

Yes: Great, you’re paving the way for long-term success.

No: The ‘how’ of work is just as essentials as the ‘what’. Set up a planning system such as Asana or MS Planner, and use this to help communication and processes work smoothly. Have your team comment, problem solve and continuously improve when it’s not seamless – all in real time and transparently.

Ask your team: are we doing things in ways that make sense, or do we need to adjust? Where can we make things less complicated? Which processes or methods have become obsolete?

4. Cooperation:
How productive are the dynamics between team members?

Super productive: Nice, you’re a well-oiled machine.

Not so productive: Get pairs of people to take walks with each other to talk about how they are working together and how they can work better. Then use tools such as Ego-States or the drama triangle from Transactional Analysis to be able to identify unhealthy dynamics in the team, and to find ways to resolve them. (More on how to improve team dynamics HERE).

5. Culture:
Are there lived (not only official!) expectations, values and standards that’ll help your team achieve their desired results?

Yes: Rockstars! Keep up the clear lines of communication.

No: Formulate a contract with your team to ensure all these unspoken rules are transparent. For clarity, identify situations that have not gone well. Steer the members of your team away from the ‘personal’ and ask: What unwritten rule was violated here? What do we all think about this? Can we make it an agreement among all of us to do this from now on? (More on developing an agile culture HERE).

6. Network & interfaces:
How sustainable are your team’s connections with others in and outside the organisation?

Strong: You’re in it for the long haul.

Weak(ish): Get a rep from your team to attend your key partnerships’ team meetings regularly to keep up to date and contribute – and vice versa! Affirm your team; give them confidence so they feel strong enough to connect with others and represent your team with pride. Ask the team about their connections to other departments and stakeholders, and encourage them to share their views when discussing issues in your own team meetings.

7. Performance profile:
To what extent is the current performance profile of the team successful and sustainable for the future?

Good score on both counts: Keep going.

Poor on one or both: Keep a regular eye on your performance profile’s success and sustainability (and ask customers and stakeholders for feedback too) – and make sure the results are reviewed regularly.

Moreover, chat with the team about energy levels, about resilience, about maintaining a good work-life balance in order to create a positive culture and sustainable performance in the team. Both are only possible if people stay healthy and happy and focused, and remember that different people need different things in order to keep performing.

Changing your leadership perspective

You should now have a clear view of the qualities of your team; the positive areas as well as areas that need attention and action. What now?

We recommend taking the evaluation one step further. Assess your organisation’s perception of your team, based on the following three perspectives:

  • an assessment of the team by its own manager
  • the views of the next higher level in the organisation, e.g. how does my manager assess the team
  • an employee / colleague evaluation, e.g. how do employees or colleagues within the team themselves evaluate the seven dimensions?
  • how would your customers rate your team’s performance and service?

You may find that these different evaluations contain different assessments of your team’s performance. Altogether, you will now have an even clearer view of your team’s strengths and weaknesses. The next step is to work with your team on what you need to change or improve, and how you’re going to go about it.

Want to learn more about our Team Development processes?

If you answered ‘no’ to several of the above questions, we recommend you learn more about CONTRACT’s Team Development processes. Our workshops aim to achieve the following markers of success:

  • Align corporate culture and strategic goals;
  • Create stronger relationships and positive, adult-to-adult communication;
  • Explore team strengths and limitations – and strengthen this mix to build excellence;
  • Gain greater clarity about roles, responsibilities and processes – and optimise them.