Transform your team: 3 tips to make an impact

 In Business decisions, Insights, People decisions, Realizer Blog, Teams

Here at X or Y we’ve been doing some fascinating work with senior leadership teams to help them improve the way they work. Below we share 3 tips to transform your team.

Transform your Team Tip 1: close down the blind spots

Just like an individual person has “blind spots” – weaknesses that everyone else can see but they them self are blind to – teams have blind spots too. So, as  in any good development piece, we need to start by holding up a mirror to the team. One great way we’ve found to do this is to run an anonymous survey of all team members to rate the team on 35 statements. These are then grouped into 5 key aspects of team performance, built on the 5 dysfunctions of a team: Trust, Honest Conversations, Commitment, Accountability, Attention to Team Results.

Each aspect gets a score out of 100%, which allows us to diagnose the key issues with the team, and search for treatment. Two great things happen when we do the survey. First, we share the results with everyone in the team, and many people have a light bulb moment when they realise that other people see the team differently to how they see it (as humans we tend to assume there is only one version of the world!). Second, it makes it really easy to focus in on the 3-5 key problem areas, and then to agree what actions need to be taken to transform your team.

Transform your Team Tip 2: create a playbook

Accountability is often a weakness of leadership teams, believe it or not, and here at X or Y we like to think of accountability on two levels. The obvious level is accountability for your results and outcomes. But the second more subtle level is accountability for your behaviours. Hence we like to have leadership teams create what’s called a playbook – a very specific and tangible set of around 5 key behaviours which the leadership team will call each other out on.

A recent workshop for example settled on one page of the playbook they called “2 hats” to encapsulate how they have to take off their divisional hat in leadership team meetings and replace it with a company-focused leadership team hat. With this came the right, and responsibility, to comment on and ask good questions of other team members’ areas of expertise. X or Y isn’t the only company focused on creating leadership playbooks. Last year I saw Cath O’Connor from DMG speak at a function and she credited her leadership team’s playbook as being the major reason behind DMG’s stellar growth. An example of one of the rules in her team’s playbook was “No Sacred Cows” i.e. no topic is too sensitive to be questioned and interrogated.

Transform your Team Tip 3: create a balanced scorecard

Paired with making people accountable for their behaviours is a way of capturing the indicators of success on a tool such as a balanced scorecard. While this approach is a few years old now, it is different from other strategy tools as it is designed to focus mainly on the areas which predict future success.

The balanced scorecard approach requires the team to prioritise their goals and initiatives under 4 broad headings: Financials, Business Processes, Customers and Learning & Growth. We love using this approaches like this as they pull together all areas of the business onto one scorecard. They can even feature a traffic light system so at each leadership meeting, it is clear at one glance where the problem areas are.

Bonus tip: avoid death by meeting

In our research between 20-50% of people’s time is spent in low (or zero) value meetings. One way we like to get round this is built on the book Death by Meeting which identifies the 2 major problems with meetings: lack of drama and lack of structure.

In particular the approach to structuring meetings is useful. It’s based on the idea that sometimes meetings go wrong because everyone has different needs and expectations: for example some people want to make it a “WIP” and discuss all the short term tactical issues, while other people may want to spend time on longer term strategic issues. In this instance, everyone ends up frustrated that not enough time was spent on their area, and too much time was spent on lesser areas.

The solution we’ve been implementing with leadership teams is to separate tactical and strategic meetings – perhaps by alternating them, or having monthly strategic meetings. Or there is the approach to clearly divide leadership meetings up into 1 hour for tactical and 1 hour for strategic, with a hard deadline in between the two.


So, those are our top tips to transform your team. There are many other ways to approach teams and team building. What we like to do at X or Y is focus on simple approaches which deliver long lasting impact.

Written by Rob Pyne