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Measuring Team Performance

Measuring Team Performance

Jack Zigon, writing in Training (June 1994), recommends five keys to designing a measurement system that supports and improves the performance of teams and their individual members:

  • Tie the team's results to the organization's goals.
  • Begin with the team's customers and the work process the team follows to satisfy their needs.
  • Measure both team and individual performance.
  • Shoot for verifiability. Don't try to measure everything using numbers.
  • Train the team to create its own measures.

Christopher Meyer agrees that teams should develop their own measures based on commonly understood team goals. He states in the May/June 1994 Harvard Business Review: "When a group of people builds a measurement system, it also builds a team. One benefit of having a team create its own measurement system is that members who hail from different functions end up creating a common language, which they need in order to work as an effective team."

The way measures are used to appraise team performance will depend on the team's location in the organizational structure. For example, a high-level management team might use measures that determine program effectiveness or the success of the organization's strategic plan, whereas teams at lower levels in the organization would be more concerned with measuring quality, cycle time, waste, or delivery.

Another factor to consider when setting up team measures is the type of team to be measured. A temporary, problem-solving team would probably want to measure results, such as the effectiveness of the solution they developed. On the other hand, a permanent work team will want to measure work processes as well as results. If work teams only measure results and they don't reach their goal, they won't know why. Measuring the work process will show the team where improvement can be made.

Helping teams establish effective measurements will provide them with the information they need to improve their performance. As Jack Zigon states, "Measuring team performance is difficult but not impossible. And it can pay off in better quality, shorter cycle times, and improved customer satisfaction."

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