6 Different Team Effectiveness Models to Understand Your Team Better

Team effectiveness is the capacity of a group of people, usually with complementary skills, to work together to accomplish goals set out by an authority, members, or leaders of the team. Team effectiveness models help us understand the best management techniques to get optimal performance from our teams. There are several critical factors to achieve maximum group effectiveness as the six models of team working below will show. 

Smart leaders and project managers should be aware of unique dynamics and relationships within their teams and create room to consistently improve team performance. Google, a company known for their innovative models of team effectiveness, spent years analyzing what makes some teams better than others. Their findings? It's less about who's on the team and more about how well they work together.

Understanding these team effectiveness models will help you figure out which of the team models would be best to optimize your team by shedding a light on what works and what needs to be improved.

Rubin, Plovnick, and Fry's GRPI Model of Team Effectiveness

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This model of team effectiveness was proposed by Rubin, Plovnick, and Fry as early as 1977. It is also known by the acronym GRPI, which stands for Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal relationships. Represented as a pyramid diagram, this model outlines four parts teams need to be effective:

  1. Goals: well-defined objectives and desired results, plus clearly communicated priorities and expectations
  2. Roles: well-defined responsibilities and acceptance of a leader
  3. Processes: clear decision-making processes as well as work procedures
  4. Interpersonal relationships: good communication, trust, and flexibility

Because of its simplicity, the GRPI model is great when starting a team or when encountering a team-related problem with an unknown cause.

The Katzenbach and Smith Model

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After studying teams across several companies and their various work challenges, authors Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith unveiled this team effectiveness model in 1993. Their book, "The Wisdom of Teams," lays out their model of efficient teams in a triangular diagram with the three points representing the larger deliverables of any team: collective work products, performance results, and personal growth. 

To reach these goals, productive teams must have three necessary components. These make up the sides of the triangle:

  • Commitment: Teams are committed when they have a meaningful purpose, specific goals, and a common approach to their work
  • Skills: Team members need skills in problem-solving, technical skills to accomplish their craft, and interpersonal skills to enhance teamwork
  • Accountability: Team members must have personal and mutual accountability

The T7 Model of Team Effectiveness

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In 1995, Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger developed the T7 Model to define what factors affect team effectiveness. They identified five internal and two external factors, all starting with "T," hence the name, T7 model.

The internal team factors are:

  • Thrust: a common objective or goal
  • Trust: the knowledge that your team has your back
  • Talent: skills to do the job
  • Teaming skills: the ability to function as a team
  • Task skills: the ability to execute tasks

The external team factors are:

  • Team leader fit: whether the leader works well with the team
  • Team support from the organization: how the organization enables the team to work

For a team to be high performing, all five internal factors must be present. However, no matter how complete the internal factors, if leadership and organizational support are lacking, the team's effectiveness will be hampered.

The LaFasto and Larson Model

Authors Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson proposed a model in 2001 called Five Dynamics of Teamwork and Collaboration. They gathered insights from investigating 600 teams across various industries to answer the question, "what is an effective team?"

The resulting model features five layers or components that increase the likelihood of team effectiveness:

  • Team member: What are his or her skills and behaviors? Picking the right person is the first step.
  • Team relationships: The right behavior in a team builds healthy working relationships between its members.
  • Team problem solving: Good team relationships make it possible to work together to solve problems.
  • Team leadership: The right leadership enhances a team's success.
  • Organization environment: The right processes and company culture in an organization promote commitment from teams.

The Hackman Model of Team Effectiveness

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Richard Hackman proposed an effectiveness model in his 2002 book, "Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances." It outlines five conditions that must be present for teams to work together successfully.

Hackman's study of analytic teams in the U.S. intelligence community confirms the validity and effectiveness of these five conditions:

  1. Being a real team as opposed to a nominal team: Effective teams have a boundary that delineates who is a part of the team, the members are interdependent, and membership is typically stable.
  2. Having a compelling direction that everyone works toward: This means setting goals that are clear, challenging, and of sufficient consequence to motivate team members to strive together.
  3. Having an enabling structure that allows for teamwork: The team's structure — its conduct and the way it organizes and works on its tasks — has to enable teamwork and not impede it. For example, if only one person gets to approve the work of 20 people, then that structure is hampering the team's effectiveness.
  4. Having a supportive context within the organization that allows the team to work efficiently: This means the team receives adequate resources, rewards, information, and the cooperation and support needed to do their work.
  5. Having expert coaching and guidance available to the team: Effective teams in business are those with access to a mentor or a coach who can help them through issues.

The Lencioni Model

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Patrick Lencioni's 2005 book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" lays out a work team effectiveness model based on the causes of dysfunctions, conflicts, and political maneuverings in a workgroup. He mapped out five qualities effective teams do not want. To know your team's dysfunction is to understand how to cure it. The five dysfunctions are:

  1. An absence of trust: If team members are afraid to be vulnerable or afraid to ask for help, then they won't turn to their teammates for assistance.
  2. A fear of conflict: If everyone tried to preserve peace at all costs, there wouldn't be any dynamic conflicts that result in productive ideas.
  3. A lack of commitment: If people aren't committed to their work or team, then they won't follow through on their decisions or deadlines.
  4. Avoidance of accountability: This is another drawback of the fear of conflict where no one wants to hold others accountable for their work.
  5. Inattention to results: If personal goals become more important than the success of the group, no one will monitor and optimize team performance.

Lencioni's team effectiveness leadership model is illustrated as a pyramid, where you tackle each dysfunction one by one from the bottom up.

Choosing the right team effectiveness model for your team

If you have read this far, you may be wondering why there are so many team effectiveness models. Yet this list only scratches the surface. High-performance teams are a unique blend of individual perspectives, group dynamics, and organizational support. 

The different team effectiveness models help you identify specific gaps that hinder your team from collaborating and producing successful results. Remember that the way a team works together determines their success much more than the strength of individual team members. 

Therefore, leaders who focus on creating effective teamwork models elevate the work of everyone involved, and thus the success of their organizations.

Are you ready to improve your models for team working and overall team effectiveness?

You can start with a two-week trial of Wrike's collaboration and project management software to enable your team to work better together and achieve set goals. 

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