Team Reviews - Taking the Peer Approach
As has been discussed often by me and other team coaches, ensuring that teams review their progress is essential. The team needs to review how the team is performing against the goals that have been set and it is also useful to put time aside to review progress of the team development plan and team charter. However, if the reviews are ineffective, in that team members do not look forward to them as they find them demotivational, then they can quickly descend into yet another, ‘tick-box’ demotivational exercise. I have been fortunate to experience very effective and motivational team review processes and the most effective I have found is that of ‘peer’ review. Let us look at this in a bit more detail, and I’ll highlight some key points for you to consider should you decide that this is the best review form for you and the team to take.
What is ‘peer review’ exactly? This is where the team members review each other’s performance in terms of each individual’s contributions to the team and how they are performing against their own individual objectives. The difference here, between the traditional review meeting and ‘peer review’ is that the team manager is considered a full equal in the team and has to similarly highlight their own individual performance as regards their objectives and contributions. Many traditional team review meetings have the team manager facilitating / chairing the meeting and each team member is asked to outline how they are progressing with their own objectives. It’s an individual exercise with usually the only person challenging or clarifying aspects of the individual performance being the team manager. The rest of the team members will probably not contribute, usually because, they are waiting (maybe nervously!) for their turn. Their focus is solely on themselves with the result they do not contribute or support their team-mates with ideas or suggestions. They certainly will not challenge under-performance! In this traditional approach, the team manager will usually not be accountable in terms of outlining their own personal performance with the result they will gain no feedback on how their performance is contributing to the team goals. All very traditional, hierarchical, and potentially demotivating with little learning taking place.
‘Peer review’ is different in that it is team-led and not manager-led. Whilst the manager may take a lead role in ‘chairing’ or facilitating the process, everyone in the team has ‘airtime’ to review their performance against their team objectives and commitments. When the manager has their ‘airtime’ then another member of the team takes over the ‘chairing’ responsibilities. The meeting has to have some ground rules and everyone must commit to those ground rules that are agreed. Whilst the team will generate their own ground rules (usually taken from their team charter) here are some which I have come across in the past.
· All team members must enter the meeting with a positive mindset in that the meeting is one of support and of future action.
· All team members must be open to feedback and also be prepared to give feedback both congratulatory and constructive.
· Each team member should be given an equal amount of time although if there are particular challenges that need more time for the team to work through then this should be highlighted before the meeting and appropriate time built in.
· All team members must commit to listening intently to each presentation and to ensure full understanding of what their peers are working on and how they are performing.
· Preparation is key in that all team members should come fully prepared to present their performance, highlighting successes and challenges.
· Where there are challenges all team members should highlight what they are doing to overcome these. Where they may be ‘stuck’ in terms of what to do next, then they are open about it and ask the team for support with ideas and suggestions.
· Team members should, where appropriate, take a coaching approach, enabling their peers to think things through and suggest their own actions as opposed to ‘jumping in’ with advice and suggestions. If a peer is truly ‘stuck’ then direct suggestions and ideas are the right intervention.
· If it is found that the manager is taking an overly directive approach then they need to be made aware of this and asked to ‘step back.’
· All actions must be recorded and then summarised for agreement at the end of each presentation. These are again summarised at the end of the review meeting and circulated for individuals to enter into their own business and / or personal development plans.
The above list is not exhaustive but hopefully you get the idea. It may be in the early stages that the manager takes a more ‘hands on’ approach just to get the team used to the process and the behaviours but as time goes on then they should become more ‘hands-off’ and in fact the ‘leadership’ of the meetings should be rotated. If you access to an external facilitator or team coach to assist you in the processes early on then all the better.
This type of review process is very common in the true high-performance teams where leadership is shared across the team. In these teams, self-awareness is high and team members are very open to highlighting their successes but also to alerting the team to where they are not being successful or struggling. They know that their fellow team members will listen and understand and also support them to think through possible future actions to turn any challenges around. Trust and respect are high across these teams.
Having experienced these ‘peer-review’ meetings, I know it can be tough in the early days to get the processes and behaviours right so that the meetings work for all but with good guidance and leadership and an openness and willingness from all team members to make them work, then they really can become inspirational, motivational, a true learning experience, and dare I say it – good fun! In addition, they also ensure continued development of the team and they do contribute to the team’s resilience and overall well-being.
If you want to know more about my experience of taking part, and also in facilitating, peer review then drop me a line or DM me through Linkedin.
There are a number of very cost-effective Team Manager developmental resources now available to support you in your quest to truly be that ‘Successful Team Manager.’ You can view and access these at:
TEAM-XL online Team Assessment – Allows the team to feedback on strengths and development areas and gets them discussing their development towards high performance. TEAM-XL | PARTNERS Team Dev (partnersteamdevelopment.com)
The PARTNERS ‘Action Plan’ for Team Managers – A DIY Guide to getting your team performing. https://www.partnersteamdevelopment.com/product-page/partners-team-manager-action-plan
The book, ‘Team Champion - Taking Teamwork Seriously” - https://www.partnersteamdevelopment.com/teamchampion
The Online PARTNERS Team Development Course – A healthy blend of video lectures and questions to get you thinking. https://www.partnersteamdevelopment.com/online