By March 10, 2008 Read More →

Assessing Your Existing Team

What are the most important attributes of the people on your team?  Which attributes can you influence or change versus which are relatively fixed?   What is your threshold value for whether somebody should be on your team?  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about using key criteria to evaluate your team.

Six Criteria for Assessing People on Your Team
Watkins identifies six criteria for assessing individuals on your team:

  • Competence.  Does this person have the technical competence and experience to do the job effectively?
  • Judgement.  Does this person exercise good judgement, especially under pressure when faced with making sacrifices for the greater good.
  • Energy.  Does this team member bring the right kind of energy to do the job, or is he or she burned out or disengaged?
  • Focus.  Is this person capable of setting priorities and sticking to them, or prone to “riding off in all directions”?
  • Relationships.  Does this individual get along with others on the team and support collective decisions making, or is he or she difficult to work with?
  • Trust.  Can you trust this person to keep his or her word and follow through on commitments?

Fill Out a Table
Watkins writes:

“To get a quick read on the criteria you use, fill out a table.  Allow yourself 100 points to divide among the six criteria according to the relative weight you place on them when you evaluate direct reports.  Record those numbers in the middle column, making sure that they add up to 100.  Now identify one of those criteria as your ‘threshold issue.’ meaning that if a person does not meet a basic threshold on that dimension, nothing else matters.  Label your threshold issue with an asterisk in the right-hand column.”

Example Table
Watkins provides an example table:

Evaluative Criteria Relative Weights (Divide 100 points among the six issues) Threshold Issue (Designate with an asterisk)
Competence - -
Judgment - -
Energy - -
Focus - -
Relationships - -
Trust - -

Analyze Your Results
Watkins writes:

“Now step back.  Does this accurately represent the values you apply when you evaluate direct reports?  If so, does this analysis suggest any potential blind spots in the way you evaluate people?

Your assessments are likely to reflect certain assumptions about what you can and can’t change in people who work for you.  If you score relationships low and judgment high, for example, you may think that relationships within your team are something you can influence, whereas you cannot influence judgment.  Likewise, you may have designated trust as a threshold issue — many leaders do — because you believe that you must be able to trust those who work for you and because you think trustworthiness is a trait that cannot be changed.”

Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:

  • Identify your criteria.  Your criteria should support your success.  This means both having people you can count on to do their jobs as well as complimenting your ability.
  • Find your blind spots.  It might be a blind spot for you if you think you can change attributes that you really can’t or that are ineffective.  You also might be undervaluing certain attributes.  Use the table to reflect on how well the results match your experience.
  • Identify what you think you can change and what you can’t.  While it’s true that you can influence behavior, changing some attributes just might not be worth it.

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