How to Choose the Right Team Effectiveness Model

How to Choose the Right Team Effectiveness Model

Are you a Project Manager with a team on your hands and don't know how to handle it? You've come to the right place.

We'll go through eight team effectiveness models, their key points, and how you can apply them correctly.

Team effectiveness definition

But first, let's see what team effectiveness is? It's the capacity of a group of people, usually with complementary skills, to work together to accomplish goals set out by an authority, members, or team leaders.

What separates a team from a group is the inter-dependency of its members. Groups are usually made up of independent individuals who coordinate their activities, while team members are committed to shared goals and each other.

Essential conditions for successful team performance

Google conducted the Aristotle project for over a year, trying to understand what makes the team work well. What they found is similar to the five conditions of team effectiveness defined by Hackman:

  • Real Team – A stable team membership over time
  • Compelling Direction – Well defined goals
  • Enabling Structure – A positive dynamic
  • Social Support – Proper collaboration system
  • Coaching – Help from a coach

On top of these, they also found other productivity key factors: dependability, structure and clarity, personal meaning, and each team member feeling like they make an impact. Above all – psychological safety.

Types of team effectiveness models

Let's check out all the most relevant identified models (so far), and you might recognize along the way which to apply to your team.

The Hackman model

We already went through the five conditions that, according to Hackman, increase the probability of a team to be effective. He also identified three attributes that successful groups possess:

  • satisfy internal and external customers
  • develop capabilities to perform in the future
  • find meaning and satisfaction within the group

The Rubin, Plovnick, and Fry's GRPI model

It was introduced in the 70s, and its name speaks for itself:

  • Goals - clearly defined objectives
  • Roles & Responsibilities - everyone needs to know precisely what their job is
  • Processes & Procedures - they also need to know how to do it
  • Interpersonal relationships/contracting - the ground rules of communication

If you're establishing a new team, follow these elements from the top down. Make sure the team's goals are described in great detail and communicated clearly. If you've been working with the team for a while and you run into a problem, analyze from the bottom up.

The Katzenbach and Smith model

It's all about a triangle whose points are a team's objectives:

  • collective products and achievements
  • performance results
  • personal growth

The sides of this triangle represent the factors necessary to achieve these goals:

  • Commitment – teams need a purpose to be committed
  • Skills – team members need the knowledge to reach the defined goals
  • Accountability – the whole team benefits from it

The T7 model

It identifies seven factors of team effectiveness. Five internal:

  • Thrust – a shared objective
  • Trust
  • Talent
  • Teaming – the ability to act as a team
  • Task skills

And two external:

  • Team leader fit
  • Team support from the organization

All the internal factors are essential, while the external ones are important and could hinder a team's performance.

The LaFasto and Larson model

This model identifies five elements that make the team effective:

  • Team member - selecting the right people
  • Team relationships - good collaboration is essential
  • Problem-solving - all team members should be ready to tackle the obstacles that arise along the way
  • Team leadership - a good leader knows when to step in and when to let the team do their job
  • Organization environment - the system needs to support the team and their commitment

The Lencioni model

While all the other models concentrate on what should be enhanced, this one focuses on what should be avoided. The five dysfunctions are:

  • Absence of trust: If a team member runs into a problem and can't talk to anyone about it, the likeliness of it remaining unsolved increases.
  • Fear of conflict: Sometimes, conflicts and discussions can be very productive and useful.
  • Lack of commitment: Without it, team members are not motivated to do their job well and on time.
  • Avoidance of accountability: Working in a team where members don't want to hold themselves or others accountable for their work is a living hell.
  • Inattention to results: Personal goals should never become more important than the team's performance.

To sum up

What we see in all these models are some common key points, such as:

  • goal-driven team (members)
  • clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • open communication

We've talked our lungs out on these topics, and we believe the main ingredients for a successful team are summed up in these steps.

Create a team of skilled and motivated people, tell them what needs to be done, arrange who needs to do what, and then regularly make sure everything is going as planned.

You could go through all these models and apply the analysis to your team one by one, or you could take a little bit from each. 

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