Some time ago I was invited to participate as a potential change leader in a Global Leadership and Performance (LEAP) programme that Shell Oil was rolling out across the Group. One part of the program was a very useful team effectiveness questionnaire. I have subsequently used this questionnaire in several successful finance function transformation assignments that I have completed around the World, most recently in Qatar.

What I like about the questionnaire is its simplicity. My experience is that teams respond very positively when given the opportunity to self-diagnose risks and issues impacting their effectiveness and to develop solutions. I generally spring the questionnaire on the team as part of the launch workshop of the change program. Responses are anonymous – to assure honesty – but I generally attempt to differentiate between manager and staff responses.

The philosophy underpinning the questionnaire is that great teams manage themselves within boundaries set by the rules of the game the team is playing.

To be successful, teams need to be very clear on the goals of the game, the roles of the various players in the game, the processes used by the team and the players to achieve the goals, and the quality of the relationships – including the behaviours and values of the team. Great teams also take ownership of their effectiveness and work consistently to improve effectiveness; management becomes the servant of the team.

Once the team has completed and returned the questionnaire, I compile the results and provide feedback to them in a subsequent team effectiveness workshop. At this workshop the team is challenged to develop solutions for improving effectiveness. The workshop is also used as an opportunity to introduce some of the function and technology effectiveness proposals as part or whole solutions to the team’s diagnosis of what needs to happen to become more effective.

Empowering concepts such as the ‘self-managed team’ and ‘management as being the servant of the team’ often come as a big surprise to team members. Often they are shocked or surprised at how consistently people feel about issues and solutions. Team managers can be shocked at the difference between their perception and their staff’s perception of how things are – and sometimes that management is a bigger part of the problem than they think or are prepared to admit. But even with well managed teams, I have found that the questionnaire and workshop is a useful tool for improving team performance. Function transformation generally involves revised team goals and objectives, changes to or a completely new operating model and organisation design, and changes to technology.

The team effectiveness program’s overall objective is to get the team to take ownership of the change program in its entirety, flushing out and resolving the obstacles to successful execution. The team ends up owning the responsibility for implementing the team, technology and function effectiveness solutions identified in the program design and by the team itself. This considerably enhances the likelihood of successful execution. But, most importantly in my experience, it enriches and energises the team and the individuals within the team.