Coaching at Work roadtests team diagnostic tool teamSalient®
What it is
teamSalient® is an online team diagnostic tool designed for use by coaches working with teams. It can be used for both assessment and development purposes with teams and has been employed as part of team coaching, team reviews, team building and team development programmes.
Just two months after launching, in April 2021 the tool won a Web Excellence Award in the apps and mobile category, for its innovative design and user-friendly web technology.
It was created by master coach and chartered psychologist, Dr Declan Woods, after finding that teams were often very unclear about how effective they were and what they should focus on to increase their effectiveness.
“We found that teams were regularly spending their time focusing on the wrong things – things that weren’t making a difference to their effectiveness or performance. But what makes a team effective is a dynamic and changing concept and so we created teamSalient® to help point teams in the right direction,” says Woods.
“In addition, we wanted to really encourage teams to move to action – to act on areas that would shift their performance. teamSalient® recommends activities that teams can work through to improve. We also wanted to highlight the vital role leaders play, and so some of these activities are just for them, whereas others are for team members or the whole team.”
How it works
Based on four years’ quantitative research before being field tested across a range of team types and countries, teamSalient® provides a robust and granular picture of a team against 16 ‘drivers’ of team effectiveness and combines this with a dynamic model of team development showing how teams can change over time through targeted actions.
It goes beyond measuring individuals and their largely fixed personalities to look at all aspects of what makes a team effective and how they can be developed across three domains:
- Fundamentals – team design/structural elements
- Facilitators – enabling factors and team dynamics
- Fire ups – additional areas of focus for team members
It’s systemic, linking a team to its organisation context and contrasts team leader, member and stakeholder perspectives with built-in 360º feedback. Integrating these views saves time gathering feedback separately and links it to the team’s profile. And it’s highly action-orientated, converting Insights into Action© through built-in action plans usable by the team over 12 months so members can see and track how they’re improving.
Using the tool
Coaches complete a modular training programme (three two-hour virtual sessions) to become accredited users of teamSalient® and equipped to use it with teams.
teamSalient® has been designed to be intuitive for team members through careful design thinking, extensive user experience testing and revisions, and onscreen, pop-up instructions, action buttons and embedded videos.
Help is available for technical questions, and for coaches to interpret team profiles.
Once accredited, coaches will benefit from a range of support materials to help them introduce teamSalient® to teams and get the most from using it. This includes easily accessible web-based resources and an active teamSalient® Community of Practice (CoP).
The process for the team is as follows:
- The team leader, members and sponsors complete a short survey online, rating the team against the 16 drivers of team effectiveness. teamSalient® includes qualitative (360º) feedback on the team. This data is collated and presented in a team profile. Summary and detailed views using visual imagery and metrics are available to make it easy for the team to make sense of the data.
- The coach debriefs the teamSalient® profile with the team.
- teamSalient® can be used as part of team coaching to help a team create team development goals and a coaching agenda. Built-in action plans allow the team to track its progress and show improvements over 12 months.
- For more on teamSalient® visit www.teamsalient.com
- To find out about using teamSalient® with your teams or becoming an accredited practitioner, contact Dr Declan Woods: email@example.com
The practitioner’s verdict
“It is easy to set up and use teamSalient® and I have found it makes a massive difference with teams. It gives them clarity of where to focus their development and gives them a common language to be able to talk about previously undiscussable topics, including tricky team dynamics. teamSalient® has given me the confidence that the team is focusing on the areas that will make the biggest difference, and I am winning more team coaching assignments as a result.”
Carroll Macey, team coach
The client’s experience
This client is a leader in its sector, with a national remit and international reputation. In response to demand for its services, it had recently acquired two teams from other organisations to increase its capacity and capability. Despite a strong and nurturing organisational culture overall, the two teams haven’t integrated well and weren’t operating effectively. Working styles and values were very different and team members expressed concern over a lack of wider leadership, control and structure. An ‘us and them’ culture prevailed, with low levels of cohesion and widespread mistrust. Integrating the two teams successfully was crucial to organisational performance.
“We started with the basics. We used teamSalient® to build a complete picture of the complex social interplay between the two teams. teamSalient® also gathered 360º feedback from different stakeholders to provide a systemic view. We shared the teams’ profiles openly to build trust, taking care to highlight strengths while not shying away from more difficult areas. We explored each team’s attitude towards the acquisition and merger before working with members to create a shared vision for the future. We helped the team agree practical steps to get unstuck and tracked progress towards increasing their team ‘glue’ using teamSalient®.”
By working as a team, members overcame isolation. Mixing team members helped break down barriers and recognise common ground while holding space for their distinct identity. A new vision enabled them to move out of silos and establish a shared purpose. Once communication and trust were established, cohesion and integration followed. Performance improved.
“We were in an ‘us and them’ situation. We neither wanted nor trusted the ‘others’. teamSalient® changed that. It highlighted the lack of psychological safety and surfaced our reluctance to have the difficult conversations. Acknowledging this proved a turning point and allowed us to start to find a way forward together and gave us the common language and metrics as a team to do that.”
Transformation director, national organisation
What other clients say
- “teamSalient® has provided deep, insightful feedback that has provoked and inspired a sea change in the way that the team operates” Finance director, global law firm
- “Using teamSalient® was the first time we’ve felt like a team” HRD, distribution company
- “Discussing our teamSalient® profile and actions was the best conversation we’ve ever had as a leadership team” CTO, global high street retailer
- Shows a team where to focus to become much more effective, benchmarked against other teams
- Links a team to its organisational context
- Built-in functional flexibility for coaches and teams
- Converts ‘Insight into Action’© through 12-month team plans
- teamSalient® creates a lot of intelligence on a team’s effectiveness. It can take two or more hours to debrief
- Currently only available in English (and soon Russian). Other languages are planned