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Tool Time: Giving Meaning to Measurement

Tool Time: Giving Meaning to Measurement

Written by: Debbie Ward

Who hasn’t heard some of the following team conversations?

It’s true that we get things done on our team, but we take no time to get to know each other as people.

I really don’t get the value of sitting around shooting the breeze when I have deadlines to meet.

Things would be a lot better if we were all on the same page.

For each of these expressed sentiments, there is likely another team member who would see things differently.  These differences can be embraced and utilized to team advantage.  OR these differences in how people see the world can lead to conflict, poor decisions, throttled back results and unhappy people.


>> Learn more at the webinar: Using the ETI: Enhancing Your Effectiveness with Teams


Fortunately, most teams have a choice in how they want to work together.  By using a well-researched model and tool, a team can identify their current reality and see how that differs from the way they want to be.  This will allow them to create an intentional pathway to appreciating differences, achieving goals, and often a more enjoyable and satisfying team experience.

Most of us agree that there are lots of tools to choose from when embarking on a DYI project that requires some specialized equipment.  Similarly, when looking for a tool that is most appropriate for assessing individual or team patterns and behaviors, there are many options that are designed to measure different elements.  Some tools focus on interpersonal elements or dimensions of personality; some explore conflict style; others look at cognitive style, and still, others assess various aspects of teaming.

Regardless of what is being measured, most tools are based on a model which provides:

  • A bigger and more thorough picture of the current situation
  • Neutral language for describing the various dynamics
  • A way for each person to see him/her self in the picture as well as a way to see others in the same frame as themselves

Models can help a leader, a team member, and/or a facilitator of a group describe what she/he sees is happening in a team or in an interaction so that the folks involved can find common ground in the model itself and where they fit into the model.

What are some things to consider when selecting a model?

  • Be clear about the situation or dynamic you are seeking to describe and/or measure so it will provide relevant feedback or perspective: for example, teamwork, social styles, decision making, conflict, communication style.

And, what do we look for in a tool in order for them to be truly valuable for you and those with whom you are working?

  • Is it valid? Does it measure what it says it measures?  There’s nothing worse than having a dozen people in the room looking at their results from an assessment and having some or all of them question whether the results are accurate for them personally.
  • Is it reliable? Does the tool provide consistent results over time?  Are there situations in which results should change?  What are those situations?
  • Is it user-friendly? Is the administration and/or de-briefing process something that either a team member or external consultant can understand and execute with confidence and ease?

Once you’ve done some research you are ready to work with your team.  Here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Select a model that actually reflects the issue(s) you are focusing on and is evidence-based.
  • Read about the model. Think about how it relates to your group.
  • Practice describing the model and identify the questions or challenges that your group members might ask and prepare your responses.
  • Develop some open-ended questions to stimulate constructive conversation among your group, using the model.

If you decide to also use a tool related to the model, take these steps:

  • Learn about the tool. Consider validity and reliability.  (see above)
  • Take it yourself. Perform an objective assessment of the findings and the experience.
  • Perhaps ask a few colleagues to take it and let you review it with them while also seeking their feedback on the experience.
  • Obtain and review a facilitator guide or manual, which is typically available for small or no additional cost.
  • Get clear about the directions for administering the assessment and prepare to answer questions that might come from participants.
  • Decide whether you will debrief the results individually or in the group; whether you will ask individuals to share their results separately or whether you will share the results as an aggregate.
  • Design the 1-1 or group session so that there is a focus on what has been learned and how the data will inform future actions.

While the selection of a model or tool for use with a team is critically important, the thorough review and discussion of the findings are essential.  Consider some questions that will help give meaning to the measurement:

What surprised us about the findings?

What are elements of the data that suggest areas of strength?

Where are some opportunities for improvement?

What do we need to talk more about in light of what we learned?

Would you like to go further to find support for your team to strengthen itself?

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