Tag Archives: leadership tools

Fixing Teams That Don’t Work

Ever seen a plan that did not get executed because the team of implementors is dysfunctional? Well, it happens.

There are various tools that can be used to assess teams of people or individuals. These tools can help identify team dynamics that are holding back implementation of a strategy. Here is a summary of some tools that might help you. Credit for this should go to my expert colleagues, Greg and Anne.


This assesses people’s areas of interest and their organizational focus. For each member of a team, it can identify what they like to contribute to the team’s work, and what they need from the rest of the team to work most effectively. Birkman can be used to identify imbalances in the makeup of a team, and to identify causes of possible breakdowns in team working. It looks at a person’s preferences in the subjects of esteem, acceptance, structure, authority, advantage, activity, challenge, empathy, change, freedom and thought.

BPMT (Building Powerful Ministry Teams)

This is a team assessment tool based upon “The Performance Factor: Unlocking the Secrets of Teamwork“. This tool helps a team self assess six different aspects of team working (common purpose, clear roles, accepted leadership, effective processes, solid relationships and excellent communication). Teams can then see which aspects of team working are failing, and take steps to address them.


Stengthsfinder identifies the top 5 strengths that a person has out of a list of 34 possible strengths. This helps people determine what aspects of work they like the most. Teams can then use this information to help allocate tasks to play to the strengths and preferred working styles of their members. Hopefully this will save you allocating a detailed analysis task to someone who’s strength is blue sky thinking! One advantage of this tool is that it is positive – it focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses, so it create little negative conflict.

7Fs Personal Life Assessment

A simple self test that anyone can take to see if they have an appropriate life balance. This might help you identify people who are burned out because their overall life is out of whack. The assessee grades the strength of faith, fellowship, family, friendship, financial, fitness and fun in their life.

Job Description

Does everyone working on your project have a job description, and are they working according to it? This maybe a little obvious, but it maybe worth reviewing!! If there are no job descriptions, maybe that is a source of team conflict.

360 Review

This is a simple assessment that allows team members to see how they really perform in the eyes of their peers, supervisor and subordinates. This tests the team’s strengths and weaknesses in a more objective manner than self evaluation. Only use it with relatively self-confident people or people who really are not self-aware of major issues.


This is an assessment of the ability to succeed for individuals in a team. The complete explanation of the psychology behind the test is in the book The EQ Edge. EQ-i starts with creating self understanding, and then self regard, with the hope that it can help with other’s perceptions of team members. It grades self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal communication, decision making and stress management. This assessment tool can identify character and communication issues in team members that have been hindering a team’s ability to execute a strategy. If someone has some real issues, then assess them annually to cover those issues. If they do not have stand-out issues, then there is no need to assess them every year.

EQ-i 360

This is good for team members who have real blind spots that are bringing down a team’s ability to execute their plan. This uses the same assessment questions as EQ-i (above), but a person’s manager, peers, direct reports, family / friends and other people answer the questions as well as the person being assessed. You would certainly want to use it when you see EQ-i results that really don’t match up with your experience. When looking for work performance in a team, count the manager’s view with greater importance than the results of the other reviewers. When looking for character issues, count a team leader’s direct reports with greater importance than that of other reviewers. This tool could also be used with people who are doing well, but want to do better still.

Use tools to help you, not hinder you

A friend and I are building a house. Some days more than 50% of our time is spent fixing the tools before starting actual construction. I find myself asking questions when this happens.

Similarly, I read a strategy plan for a national team in our organization once that contained the following:

  • SWOT / BEEM analysis
  • Capacity audit
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Resource audit
  • Forcefield analysis
  • Balanced scorecard
  • Portfolio analysis

All very well. I concluded that a member of that team was taking an MBA.

Three years later I visited the country that wrote that strategic plan. We could hardly do any work at all because the internet didn’t work and people either didn’t have computers, or the computers they did have did not work in any reasonable timeframe.

I found myself asking questions in my head about their strategic plan.

Does it take 7 types of analysis to determine that the internet should be fixed and working computers supplied to staff?

Do you find yourself trying to fit the tool to your application, or does the tool IMMEDIATELY help you?

If the tool doesn’t help you immediately, then do something else. A tool is something that is supposed to make your work more effective, not less effective. If you spend more time playing with, or arguing about, a tool then do something different as you lead strategically.

Any tools hindered rather than helped you in strategic leadership? Leave a comment with things that helped and things that slowed you down.