Question: Measuring effectiveness of the management team

We are a growing office supplies company.

In our last staff meeting, at the behest of a senior director of our board, we did a little exercise.

I asked the team to secretly write down, on a piece of paper, what they thought of our "effectiveness as a management team". We then collected and averaged the anonymous scores.

I am surprised to report that though I gave ourselves 8/10, our average score was only 5.6, lowest being 3!! We intend to discuss the scores further in next week's management meeting.

Do you think this is an important metric? How can it be improved?

8 Expert Insights

The answers are contingent on each person's definition and parameters of what the words 'effective management team' means. So it would be useful to tease those definitions out via open inquiry and then see where the lines of agreement are. After that, then see what the team wants to do about what they perceive to be gaps...

I agree with Michael's response.  The question, as you presented it, was undefined and thus the ratings  are based on each way the respondent would have interpreted it.  I do believe that it is very meaningful to ask a series of specific questions that are defined in the same way for all and then ask your team to provide their rating.  And, presuming that you might still get a wide range of ratings, this makes for meaningful work to understand what is the basis for the ratings of each specific question and what it will take to improve the situation and to bring all into alignment around that particular issue.

This work can be extremely effective and beneficial to an organization's leadership team and to organization itself.  You're on the right track in a general sense.  

There are two ways to measure: counting and judging. Most metrics fall into the counting category because they're easier to accomplish. Obviously, you were asking for an assessment based on your team's respective judgments. The results you received were more remarkable for the spread - from 3-8 out of 10 - than for the average of 5.6. This suggests that your assessment of an 8 is based on a very different perspective than that which led to a 3.

It's great that you are planning further discussion, because an effective dialogue could be very helpful in illuminating the reality of what is going on. That dialogue will require candor to be of any value. The rating exercise was done with a secret ballot, so people were free to say what they really thought. It would be very helpful if you can create a safe environment for your dialogue in order to continue to hear what people really think. Don't think for a minute that you won't have to go out of your way to make it safe for your team to be candid. That is not how people are wired. They will instinctively play their cards very close to their chest unless you make it perfectly clear that it is in everybody's best interest to deal in the truth. Then you have to make it rewarding to do so. People, by and large, expect to be punished for telling the truth.

Just as an aside: the average of a set of ratings is meaningless. If 8 is very good and 3 is pretty bad, what is the average supposed to tell you? It is much more helpful to look at the distribution of ratings - how much agreement/disagreement is there and why.

Effectiveness as a management team is certainly an important metric, but it would be helpful to know about results: is your core process efficient and effective, how do employees feel about working for you, are your customers happy and willing to refer you, is your growth occurring at a profit, etc.

You are off to a good start in improving your effectiveness as a management team... you asked the question.

We have done this exercise with hundreds of executive teams.

Congratulations, if your team scored it a 5.6, you are average.

We ask 3 questions in our exercise:
1. Where are you now in team effectiveness?
2. Where should you be?
3. What needs to be done to close the gap?

The average current score is around 5.5.
The average should be score is 8.5.

There are lots of different reasons on what needs to be done to close the gap. It is unique to the team.

So, I think you need to ask the other 2 questions. The answers you get to what should be done to close the gap should be discussed by the team & the top priorities should be addressed.

I predict it will be a very healthy discussion.

Having just completed my PhD research on the impact of top management team impact of financial performance, I can report that there is a direct and material impact of the quality of the team dynamic on performance.

In my research, I collected information from 123 public companies and with statistical significance (i.e. 99% certainty) could explain 20% of a firm's profitability by understanding the top team's performance.  If a firm had an effective top management team, they contributed up to 20% directly to the firms profitability -- if they had a poorly performing top management team, they detracted up to 20% from firm profitability.  This is the first time this relationship has been proved, with precision and with metrics.

The assessment was an on-line proprietary survey that took less than 12 minutes on average (for over 600 people) to complete.  Once the bias-free assessment is completed, I provide a full report on not only how well the team performance, but specific areas to improve team dynamic, team effectiveness and team self-efficacy and offer team coaching.  

Team coaching has been proven to be effective with a few short sessions generating improvement in team performance between 48% and 191% and the positive effects are sustainable over time.

There is a way to measure team effectiveness scientifically, determine impediments to high levels of performance, and address these impediments elegantly and effectively, without having to guess about their nature or source.

You can read the results of my Board research in Harvard Business Review:


Assuming you were the chief of staff asking the question, you seem surprised at the responses.  While conducting our Rapid Transformation program for clients hoping to improve their performance results, a byproduct lesson we often find during our analysis is that management  in general has very little understanding of the organization's operation.  This is often due to retirements, executive transfers, new talent from the outside, or newly hired B-school grads.  

The lack of such knowledge can easily affect or interfere with the interaction of the executive team.  They become "siloed" into their own areas of responsibility, and generally never grasp the team concept as fully as they should.

It sounds to me as if a series of team "pow-wows" are in order to identify the role of the executive team and air the perceptions of its effectiveness...real or imagined.

The score is only an indicator of effectiveness.  The important focus should be on what should the team be doing "More Of"/ Less Of/Differently" to improve.  Pull them together and have a very clear discussion of the four parameters for team effectiveness:  Goals, Roles, Process, Interpersonal Relationships.  

Goals:  Are we clear and consistent on direction, objectives, mission, strategy, etc.
Roles:  Do we know what each does?  Is there overlap?  Gaps in responsibilities? Is there room for collaboration?  
Process:  How clear are we on how we communicate, make decisions, resolve conflict,  get the work done? together, alone, etc.  
Interpersonal Relationships:  How are we getting along?  What ok and not ok in how we work together?  How much do we respect each other, help each other, understand each other?  Or not

This conversation could last for days.  I would recommend  scheduling an indepth all hands meeting for 1/2 day and see what you uncover.  Then you can work on what you need to do More/Less/Differently.

Research has clearly identified ten leadership roles for a healthy organization by which executive management must be measured (Casey, 2013):
• Establish “Purpose”
• Establish the story for change
• Have a clear vision of excellence and executable strategy
• Effectively communicate the excellence vision so that it is operationalized and internalized at all levels
• Cohesive leadership teams to guide the change for excellence
• Create organization clarity
• Exemplify desired expectations and behaviors
• Provide extensive HR/OD investment
• Empower employees and teams for action
• Create the environment that fosters sustainment