22 questions to analyse your team effectiveness

What are the REAL keys to effective team work? Answer these 22 questions to find out and see where your team can improve.


High-performance teams need leadership, mutual responsibility, compatibility of competence, sharing of work and an agreed approach to achieving a common objective. Some teams create charters about how we should achieve these things (open communication, respect, decision making processes etc…). And then there is the REAL stuff that awesome teams deal well with…


Here is a list of questions that you can use to assess your own team-ability. When you have the answers, ask yourself: What can we do to have a positive influence on this within your own team?

  • How do we help people understand their roles and responsibilities?
  • How do we deal with team motivation?
  • How do we make decisions?
  • How does our leader function in the team?
  • How does our team deal with ambiguity and assumptions?
  • How do we create team interaction?
  • How do we evaluate our position as a team?
  • What happens when we are under time pressure?
  • How do we deal with frustration?
  • How are we creative as a team within our own working environment?
  • How do we deal with rules and processes?
  • What do we do when things are not clear?
  • How do we give each other constructive feedback?
  • How do we deal with (lack of) resources?
  • How do we create common understanding and a common vocabulary?
  • What do we do with incompetent people?
  • How do we encourage people?
  • How do we get everyone involved?
  • How do we react when things don’t go as planned?
  • What happens when we really want to win?
  • What do we do when our goals are not achieved?
  • How can we be proactive as a team?


There are many other positionning tools available for teams including, for example:


I hope this post has been useful. Feel free to add comments.

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Why I see Citroen Xsara Picassos everywhere and why you should care

When I worked for Logica, I drove a Renault Espace. Every morning, I would drive down the E411 between 6.45am and 7.30am. My eyes would pass by  thousands of cars during this time, either overtaking or just seeing them around me, or coming in the other direction. How many did I actually “see”? Not many.

When I decided to leave Logica, I had to buy a car. I spent some time looking around for the perfect answer to my needs: Not too small, 3 real kiddy-seat spaces, more-or-less economic (not the Espace again!). I decided on a Citroen Xsara Picasso. I hadn’t bought it yet, just decided…

The morning after making that decision, I jumped back in my Renault Espace on the E411 to drive to Logica (during my notice period). Same time of the day, same route, I suppose same number of cars (more-or-less). And what happened? Citroen Xsara Picassos everywhere!!


I told this story the other day to training participants and they all smiled knowingly – many people can relate to this story. The funny thing is that even that night, driving home (in my Citroen Xsara Picasso 🙂 )  I could again see them everywhere. And I bet my training participants did too!

Why is this interesting? Because my Citroen Xsara Picasso story holds one of the keys to effective communication, effective presentation skills, influencing, leadership, motivation,  sales…. Read on!


Humans cannot pay attention to everything. There is simply too much going on. At the moment, if I really pay attention, I can hear the sound of the door banging downstairs, I can feel the tips of my fingers on the keyboard, I feel hunger and my cold in my nose, I can hear a tractor in the distance, there is light on my screen and of course, my screen is filled with information.

These are the things that “pass before my senses” that I am aware of, but there are many more things going on that. Although my eyes and ears and other bits receive the sound or light waves, I don’t really seem to register them or notice. Despite being an excellent multi-tasker, I simply cannot pay attention to everything.


I have to “choose” what to pay attention to. If you and I were standing in Brussels Midi station right now and someone said the name “DAN” at a normal speaking voice, chances are you wouldn’t hear it. But I might! This is because it means something to me. And my brain pays attention to the things that mean something to me. I filter out everything else and let (filter) in what I care about, what I am interested in, what means something to me. In NLP, we would talk about physical, cultural and personal filters. My mother would call it “selective hearing” ….and she regularly accused me of this when I was younger!

This is the key to the Citroen Xsara Picasso story: The car means something to me. And until it did, I never noticed it!

So: How is this relevant to effective communication, effective presentation skills, influencing, leadership, motivation,  sales…?


If you want people to listen to you, you have to say things that mean something to them. And if you want to get along with people, you have to be familiar. You have to be “on their wavelength“. If you want to “sell” something to someone, motivate them, get buy-in… you have to offer them something that is beneficial, that is: An advantage to them. If you want to get and keep my attention, you have to mean something to me.


So: What do I need to do to get people’s attention, to influence, to create rapport?

  • Find out what makes the other person tick, what turns them on, what they are interested in, their situation, values and needs
  • Find out how they process information, their VAK representation system, the words, phrases and example they use to explain themselves
  • Define what you have in your offer/product/message/request that might mean something to them: What elements will they recognise? What are the benefits for them? What might help them in their situation, with their values and needs?
  • Tune into and draw-on the way the other person thinks, acts and talks. If they say “BU” instead of “business-unit”, so should you. If they like golf, use a golfing analogy when you talk about your need for a pay-rise! If they talk fast, talk fast. This is known as “synchronising”.


If you do this, you’ll get reactions like “Oh, that sounds nice” and “Tell me more”. If you don’t, you’ll just pass by unnoticed like all the other cars on the E411…



Hope this help!

Find other learning + development resources on www.infinitelearning.be or mail me: mail@dansteer.com

8 ways to make group decisions

There are lots of different ways to make decisions. This post outlines several.


Should we cancel the project? What should the team implement to solve absenteeism issues? Which DVD should we hire? What time should we run the meeting? How will we decide which new processes to implement? Where should we hold the team event? How will we deal with MarComms in 2012? What are the strategic priorities?

For all these questions, we need to identify solutions. With a good problem solving method, some brainstorming or spontaneous creativity we can come up with ideas. But how to decide?

Decision making is an integral part of leadership (even if the leader does not decide) and as such, how decisions will be made is something to consider in detail. When leaders set up the modus-operandi for teamwork, projects, meetings … defining how decisions will be made should be included.


Here are a few ways you might make decisions in a group


One person decides

  • This is usually the leader or manager or another person with responsibility. I have discovered in my family that it can be fun to delegate decision making to different family members at different moments. You get some interesting results..


Democratic (majority) decision

  • Everyone votes and the majority wins. Anything over 50% = majority. A variation on this is the advance-majority decision which states that prior to voting, the % majority required to pass the decision must be defined. What is interesting here is to think about who decides this % and how (the group or one person?).


Unanimous decisions

  • Everyone has to agree on a given solution/proposition. When the unanimous decision does not come quickly, groups face the dilemma of having to dedicate more time than they hoped to make the decision or to have to change the decision making process. The 2nd option can lead to conflict and dissatisfaction, especially if only a small number of people in the group were “against” the majority.



  • In this option, you question the decision itself and changing it until everyone is happy with the new outcome. Imagine a choice between options A and B. In the compromise situation, we would either look for a merge of A and B or collaborate to create a new option (C). Read about the Thomas Kilman Indicator for more ideas on the difference between the will to compromise or collaborate.



  • Involves accepting a decision provided no-one objects. This usually involves one person (the leader) saying: “If no-one disagrees, we will….” Best hope those who disagree dare to speak up!



  • Putting off the decision until later might be the best decision right now. It could be done because you don’t have the time, people or expertise to deal with the decision at this moment. Does it have to be decided now?


Not deciding

  • Maybe you will just ignore the decision and see what happens


The final option

  • …works just fine for me when the stakes are low and the choice seems quite random: Flip a coin!



Advice for setting up decision making processes?

Avoid indecision or “plop decisions” (nothing is decided, but because we move to the next item, people think it was decided) by doing the following:

  • Create clarity in the decision making process before anything is on the table to be decided
  • Clarify the options well when making choices
  • Let everyone speak – this can help to create motivation (even if one person only decides)
  • Don’t take too long to decide – it is the author’s opinion that it is better to put the decision on-hold and come back to it (like doing crosswords!) than get caught up in decision making for too long – the latter drains energy and does not improve effectiveness
  • Be creative!


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My 21 favourite good SWOT questions

The first step to doing SWOT well is asking good questions. Don’t know what questions to ask? Read this post.

SWOT is a great and simple tool for analysing your current position in order to define strategic action. In this post, I first outline the meaning of strategic action and then list 21 of my favourite SWOT questions to help you with your own SWOT analysis.


Creating strategic action starts with knowing your position

According to Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general who penned “The Art of War”, understanding your current position is the key to creating good strategy. According to Stephen R Covey in “The 7 habits of highly effective people”, if you don’t begin with the end in mind (define a clear mission) it is not possible to understand your current position and therefore not possible to put first things first and create strategic action and priority-based action. Linking these ideas to the usage of SWOT, we can say that you cannot know your strengths (for example) unless they are measured in relationship to some goal, mission or objective. When asking “How strong am I?” we must first ask “For what?”

So – if you want to use the following SWOT questions to analyse your position, start by defining your mission well. If you’ve already done that, read on and answer each of these questions, thinking of your mission statement at each moment…



  • What makes you better than others (for this mission)?
  • What actions do you do well?
  • What are your competences? What knowledge, skills and attitude do you have that can help you?
  • What do other people say you do well?
  • Why should you of all people undertake this mission?



  • What could you improve in order to achieve this mission?
  • In what ways are you not efficient?
  • What don’t you do well?
  • Where are you incompetent? What knowledge, skills and attitude are you missing?
  • What should you avoid doing?
  • Why shouldn’t you undertake this mission?



  • What real opportunities are present today?
  • What is going on around you that seems to be useful?
  • From which recurring tendencies can you profit and how?
  • What could be done today that isn’t being done?
  • What is missing on the market?
  • Who can support you and how?



  • What are the negative tendencies in play today?
  • What obstacles do you face in your mission right now?
  • Who might cause you problems in the future and how?
  • What is the competition doing that might cause difficulties for you?


Not enough? Read my other post: 6 more cool SWOT questions to identify opportunities


When I do a SWOT, I like to take a little time alone to get started, but then try nonetheless to include others later on (my wife, peers, a team I am working with). Here are 2 more references to help you do a great SWOT:


Once the initial SWOT is done, it’s time to start thinking about actions, solutions, priorities etc…

..want a simple idea? Check out my post on “2 questions that seem to set me free” or read about “Creating Strategic Action in 4 Steps


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Leadership styles in practice

This post is a simple exercise for learning participants in various moments of various things. If you want more information, contact me ..

According to Blanchard and Hersey there are different potential styles for leading others.

Read each of the following examples of leadership and put them into categories where the phrases, according to you, all look to indicate the same style:

  1. CEO to CFO: “I need you to cut costs by 8% next year”
  2. Daughter to Sister: “Stop. You are doing it wrong. You need to helmet on first and then your gloves. Otherwise you won’t be able to close properly the straps on the helmet. “
  3. Manager to employee: “How do you think we should approach this project?”
  4. Consultant to client: “The best thing we can do is implement the service change in 3 phases. First we will do this, then you need to do that, the final step is…”
  5. Mother to son: “I think should close your books and just test your memory. What do you think?”
  6. Sister to brother: “Its Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary soon. What should we do for them?”
  7. Mother to son: “Can you deal with the washing please darling?”
  8. Manager to colleague: “If we tell them first what they will win, they are sure to want to listen. What do you think?”
  9. Father to daughter: “Put your hand on the rail. Now move this leg. No, THIS leg. OK. Now, move your hand up. Here, let me help you. That’s it, much better. The other hand needs to go here…”
  10. One colleague to another: “If we try it like that, it might work. Do you agree?”
  11. Manager to assistant: “Can you type this report for Monday please?”
  12. Manager to employee: “How do you think we can best improve profit next year?”