What exactly is an effective team?

Is a team productive if they complete the task on time, but had such a toxic experience in doing so that they never want to work together again?

I was once part of a team like this. We were four people, brought together from different parts of the world, to work on a project. We had 3 weeks in which to complete our work and present our report to the client.

And we were ‘successful’! Our report was ready, and we presented it to the client in a meeting on the scheduled day for reporting.

However, I made the presentation because I was the only remaining member of the team. The other members had either resigned, dropped out, or already moved on to other commitments. It had not been a pleasant experience, and I was sure that I would not want to work with those colleagues on future projects.

And I’m not sure how effective our report was in helping the client see the need for certain changes that we recommended to strengthen their project.

As a team, we met the metric of delivering our report on time. But were we really effective?


A desk covered with paper and a tablet, with a focus on graphs and charts


  • What measures matter when it comes to teams? And can the things that matter most really be measured?
  • Are these measures useful for helping a team learn and improve the quality of its work?


I was a guest on a recent podcast on Team Metrics, and we had a great discussion about these important questions! Lots of good points were made, and I was reminded of some writing that I had done on this topic earlier in my career.

My takeaway: Metrics do matter. But we need to make sure we are measuring the right measures, for the right reasons!

  • Is your use of Measures Less Developed than it should be in a healthy learning organization?
  • Is your use of Measures Over Developed to that point that it becomes vulnerable to failure due to its inability to deal with anything outside a narrow frame?
  • Or is your approach to Measures Well Developed and exercised appropriately? So that it pays attention to what is happening in and around the organization? So that it gathers relevant and timely data that informs -, -, ?


I think that there are a number of areas to look at when we consider whether your use of metrics is “Fit for Purpose“:

What goals have you established for the team? Are there clear and relevant Progress Markers and Targets?
(You would be amazed at just how many organizations trip at this first step!)

Have you identified who will act on the Reports?
(Make sure that there is an Actor for your reports… to avoid the risk of ‘busy work’ that will not be used by anyone)

Do you have Indicators that can be measured?
(Keep in mind that Goals cannot always be quantified, so you will need relevant and valid indicators)

How will you measure these Indicators?
(As not everything that matters can be measured…)

What processes do you use to make sense of this information?
(Hint: it’s not all about spreadsheets and quantitative analysis!)

Do you adapt and act on the resulting insights?
(Reporting alone does not bring change)

Are you looking beyond the Dashboard for ‘weak signals’?
(This can give you early warning of looming opportunities and threats. But you won’t notice them if your gaze is fixed only on the Metrics in your Dashboard.)

There are a lot of creative ways in which we can consider how well a team is performing.

And it is important not to forget to periodically review whether the team is behaving in ways in which it is more likely to achieve its results! A tool like ‘Five Behaviors of Cohesive Teams’ is a good way to periodically take stock of this, and to see how to adapt in ways that strengthen the team.




Share this on your social media:

Scroll to Top