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Team training: The ultimate guide to knowing when and where


Do you know if your team is performing as well as it can? James Pentreath offers some pointers for team leaders.
From the football field to the factory or office, we've all seen and felt the characteristics of an effective team. And, when the quarterly figures come in and we see that targets have been hit, we tend to make a presumption that teams are working to the best of their ability.
But unless team leaders have clarity on what an underperforming team looks like, putting the facts and figures of targets to one side for a moment, how can they ever know a team is generating the best results possible?
Being able to identify failings within a team is a powerful tool for any leader to have, because he or she then has the ability to deal with issues before they escalate and disable the entire project, and it means he or she can clearly define the exact type of development programme that the team needs to move forward.
"The question you need to ask yourself is: Is the energy that moves the team forward coming from a minority? If the answer is yes, there is a disconnection within the team."
Use these six ways to identify whether you have an underperforming team.
  1. Shared energy – no matter what size the team that you are leading is, there will always be a mixture of personalities and characters involved. The question you need to ask yourself is: Is the energy that moves the team forward coming from a minority? If the answer is yes, and the catalyst for all discussion and helpful debate is being provided by just one person, while others fail to pull their weight, there is a disconnection within the team. Sharing energy spreads the risk of one person leaving the team and the entire operation collapsing.
  2. Creative dialogue – debate is essential to move forward as a team, and when it is helpful and aligned with the team's vision or objective, it is a healthy characteristic of a team. However, as a leader it is crucial to be able to identify when debate becomes destructive rather than constructive, and the overall objective is lost. Can you identify members of the team who debate for personal objectives rather than those of the team?
  3. Moving forward – teams need to move forward in stages, and as a leader it is imperative that you not only assess targets and deadlines are hit, but also identify the appropriate stages. You may be hitting targets, but you could be surpassing those targets. Not reaching targets at the right time and moving forward at the speed that a team is capable of, is a clear indication of a failing team.
  4. Role clarity – would you be given a confident answer if each member of your team was asked this simple question: What is your role within this team? An underperforming team has gaps in terms of clarity over who performs what tasks and who is accountable to whom, because it quickly leads to communication breakdown. As a leader, you should be clear on the role of each team member, and be able to quickly identify where there is a lack of clarity.
  5. Leader being a leader – this requires the leader to take a look at themselves and assess their own abilities. Authenticity and consistency in terms of the way you approach members of the team are crucial, and this means ensuring that team members know exactly what they are going to get each time they come into contact with you. Without effective leadership, a team will struggle, and this is one way you can identify how effective you are.
  6. Alignment to the purpose – underperforming teams do not have members who share the same objectives for that team, and leaders need to be able to identify where these gaps are occurring, and then address those gaps. The question for leaders is: Does the entire team understand where they are heading, and why they are moving in that direction?
Readers can download Six ways to identify an underperforming team and subscribe to more information on coaching, mentoring and training programmes at

James Pentreath is the founder of organisational development company, Leadership Consulting Partners. Leadership Consulting Partners has delivered its results-driven programmes to large organisations like AXA, Visa, UBS and Betfair, and has a pool of consultants working on a global scale

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