Team members can’t identify specific behaviors to change on their own.
For your team to become more effective, they need to know the specific behaviours that inf luence their effectiveness. But responses to even well-crafted and validated survey items like “Team members follow through on group decisions” or “Conflict interferes with achieving goals” do not by themselves provide that level of specificity. Identifying specific behaviours that need to change requires that team members talk directly with one another about what they might do differently.
Raise the dilemma with your team. Test your assumption that team members want confidentiality by asking them directly. Explain the trade-off of survey confidentiality and effectiveness, including the issues of validity, behaviour specificity, accountability and trust. Ask team members for their reactions.
Ask which conditions would need to be met for them to complete the survey using their names. Work to create those conditions.
If you learn that low trust is a significant issue, address it. Ask members to be accountable for stating their views but emphasise that no one will be coerced into sharing information they are not yet willing to share. Assure members that providing information and opinions, even if negative, will not have punitive consequences, and ensure that this is the case. Use a set of ground rules to make the conversation safe and productive.
Don’t be afraid to use outside help. An internal or external consultant can help the It’s key to remember that members of effective teams help one another improve. They provide one another with regular, specific feedback about how their behaviours are affecting the team and its goals. Research shows that regularly following up with colleagues is a powerful variable in creating long-term sustainable change in leadership behaviour. To provide this effective feedback and support, team members need to agree on the specific behaviours that each member will change.
Roger Schwarz is an organisational psychologist, leadership team consultant, and president and CEO of Roger Schwarz & Associates. He is the author of Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams: How You and Your Team Get Unstuck to Get Results.’’
© 2013 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.