The High Performing Team Assessment Tool (HPT) is one of our most downloaded resources. It’s so popular because it’s simple to use and benchmarks your team across eight critical areas, enabling you to easily measure improvements over time. At People Leaders, we’re also all about continuous improvement. That’s why we’ve revamped the HPT in line with feedback received and our own new learnings. In this post and podcast, we talk you through the tool and changes we’ve made to it, explaining why it’s so valuable in helping you improve team performance.
The HPT is a simple but effective rating tool that shows how team members perceive the team and their leader in relation to eight core dimensions. The ratings provide a discussion and measuring opportunity. So, for example, asking someone, “How are you?" might prompt the response, "Good." Whereas asking them how they are on a scale from one to ten encourages a more nuanced answer where changes (hopefully improvements) can be easily measured. What our clients love most is that it can be so easily implemented and interpreted in-house.
Here’s what the HPT allows you to measure.
Setting the direction or vision for the team is paramount. Do team members have defined goals? Do they know when they're on and off track? As a people leader, it’s up to you to provide clarity around direction, to post that sign on the hill that the team can see clearly and work towards. This measure allows team members to explain how they really feel about the team’s direction.
This looks at the quality and types of interpersonal interactions within the team. People recognise that diversity in teams creates better outcomes. But, it can also create challenges because diversity isn’t just about race, gender and age, it's also about different ways of thinking and doing. Clear structures and ‘rules for engagement’ help manage these differences.
People take ownership of their work and behaviour within high performing teams. When someone isn’t being accountable for their work, try exploring the situation through open discussion about roles and expectations. Sometimes, it’s not because they’re avoiding responsibility, it’s because it wasn't clear what they should have been doing in the first place.
This is about procedures and ensuring that tasks are completed in a way that leads to an effective outcome. It’s how the team moves something from A to B. Yet it’s not just about work process, there's also interpersonal process and decision-making process too. For example, making sure you have a process or approach to deal with conflict.
How do stakeholders prefer to communicate? What kind of information do they like and trust? When something goes wrong, what do you do? Though you may have known a stakeholder for years without receiving negative feedback, this may be because they haven’t been asked for it. It’s important to be clear and specific about the kind of feedback you want from stakeholders so you can get an accurate picture of how they feel.
This is about the personal and professional development elements that exist within the team. As a people leader, are you providing the opportunity for your team members to grow and develop? Are you capitalising on each of their strengths? There's something very powerful about hearing what your strengths are from your people leader. Make sure you’re leveraging growth opportunities and giving credit where credit’s due.
Regarding the type, frequency and quality of interactions within the team, does each member have access to all the information they need in order to do their job effectively? Do they feel confident that there are open lines of communication between each other and to you as the people leader?
This is about resilience and well-being of each of the team members. As a team leader, you'll hear us saying, "So what are you creating in terms of the environment that allows people time throughout the day to spend time on their resilience and well-being? Are you taking advantage of those opportunities that exist within the organisational structure for people to tap into that?"
This covers things like flexible working hours, bringing animals into the workplace, and things like that.
It’s important to assess the flow and rate of work coming in, asking whether it’s challenging enough or too much? People leaders mustn’t assume but need to ask for feedback.
We have to practise what we preach. Every so often we have a look at our tools in light of new learnings and with fresh eyes. Plus, we get great feedback from people and want to act on it. So, we’ve made three global changes.
Firstly, we’ve changed the language from passive to active by installing a more inclusive ‘we’ rather than ‘they’. A team is a collective collaboration, and this empathetic way of operating is really important to develop a high performing team.
Secondly, we’ve changed the scale from one to seven to one to ten. We looked at some of the research, and a ten point scale seemed to work really well for our indicator. It's now easier for clients to calculate percentages. It helps with comparisons and the brain likes to work in patterns so this scale makes it easier to see them.
Thirdly, we ‘ve included a question in every dimension for the people leader or about the people leader. Of course, you can choose not to fill this in, however, if you want feedback that will allow you to do something differently, then why not get your team to fill in the people leader section? Each question has strategies implied in the question which means it will be obvious what you actions you need to take. For example, if you’re rated low on the question, "My people leader does not have a clear vision and direction for the team," versus "My people leader has established and communicated a clear vision and direction for the team," you’ll know where you need to improve.
Should you be concerned about the feedback from the team? That depends. If the feedback is really poor, you probably should be concerned. The process can be challenging and you should make sure you’re in a state where you’re ready to receive feedback. If you’re under the pump and overwhelmed, it’s probably not the best time to do it. But remember, you only grow by experimenting outside of your comfort zone and yes, it may feel a little bit uncomfortable. You could perhaps get somebody else to collate the data for you, but it is a valuable learning opportunity.
What can the team do with information from the assessment?
You can use the information gathered to feed into your development plans seeing the areas you rank lowest as your red flags. For example, if you rated really low on team goals, that's something you might want to do as a team building activity. If you rank low in the relationship area, the team could do a personality indicator, or a strengths finder indicator to identify the different personality types.
The HPT provides the perfect foundation for communicating more effectively and firing better on all fronts. Stay tuned, and we’ll give you some more information on the new online high performing tool we are currently developing.