7 Questions You Need To Ask About Your Team

Building and maintaining a highly engaged, cohesive team is difficult under the best of conditions. Doing it with four generations in the workplace, a constant need for innovation, and a desire by all employees for greater work/life satisfaction can make it seem impossible!

If you’re looking for a quick way to determine how your time as a leader or manager could be better spent to build a more effective team, ask these seven questions from time to time:

1. Do I know the “DPW” of each member of my team?
Identifying the Driving Personal Wants of individuals is the first step to help foster knowledge-sharing and collaboration. You are asking them to bring their full physical, mental, and emotional energy to work every day. What does your organization give them in return (beyond a paycheck) that connects with who they are or who they aspire to be?

2. Does my team have a healthy respect for the “Why” behind the “What?”
Companies like Apple and Zappos keep their team members fully focused on the mission. The products (i.e. the “What”) are a natural outgrowth of their mission. Are your team members so busy meeting the next deadline that they have forgotten the value they bring to internal or external customers? To take a deeper look into the idea of the value of knowing the “Why” in your organization, take a look at Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk on the subject.

3. Are there communication barriers between individuals on my team?
Real challenges like the types of communication used between team members are a place to look first. Are team members communicating to one another clearly, consistently, and in a context that is conducive to moving work forward? Next, look to more abstract barriers such as people feeling undervalued, not respected, stifled or under appreciated. These perceptions (whether true or not) lead to an inability to effectively communicate. It is essential to identify the cause of the mistrust (which is almost always the root of any miscommunication) and work to build or rebuild trust between team members.

4. Do our decisions reflect diversity of thought?
A consistent inclusion of different perspectives and approach makes an organization stronger and more appealing to more people and to more customers. Reflect on the last two decisions you made as a team. Did you invite and encourage differing opinions? Were other team members supportive of a difference in perspective?

5. Do my team members feel safe to talk about conflict or difficult issues?
Effective teams don’t avoid the tough conversations. They know their work is too important to be weighed down by the “elephant in the room.” If everyone is clear about the “why” (see number 2), working through disagreements becomes much easier. Engage in frequent discussions about the tough topics as new information and opportunities for resolution begin to emerge.

6. Am I a good example of what I want my team members to be?
Do you model respect and understanding? Are you cultivating a culture where everyone’s contribution is valued? For example, if a team member works from home on projects that do not require interaction with others, do you seek to keep them connected to the team and communicate the value of their work even though they are not in the office?

7. Are rewards to team members aligned with what’s important to them?
Toss out the idea that one size fits all. Determine what employees want and reward them with it when appropriate. If you’ve done a good job with question 1, this question is much easier to answer.

If you are genuine in your desire to work with each member of your team to create a positive and productive work environment, your employees will bring their best to work each day, appreciate the skills of other team members, and more constructively work through any conflict to achieve the team’s mission.

Just start asking the questions.