“Team Building Without Time Wasting”

Many of today’s leaders are currently facing a dilemma — as the need to build effective and high-performing teams increases, the time available to build these teams is decreasing. 

However, the need to have a solid high-performing team is more important than ever, as leaders are pulled in a hundred different directions and organizations have to face the rapidly changing environment. 

Gone are the days of traditional, hierarchical leadership, as a new focus on networked team leadership emerged. Now, you can find new types of teams; virtual teams, autonomous teams, cross-functional teams, and so on. 

Recognizing the importance of increasing leadership effectiveness and team building, Marshall Goldsmith conducted a study involving thousands of participants. The research showed that focused feedback and follow-up from stakeholders can increase leadership effectiveness and a parallel approach to team building can help leaders build teamwork without wasting time. 

To make this team-building process successful, you need to assume the role of a coach or facilitator instead of a “boss” or an “instructor”. By letting team members come up with their own behavioral change strategies instead of simply executing the strategy imposed upon them by the “boss”, they will show a greater improvement in team effectiveness. The team members also need to have the courage to constantly ask and learn from the input they receive from fellow team members. 

1. Ask the team whether team building is needed

Before we start, ask all team members to confidentially record their answers for these two questions:

  • On a 1 to 10 scale (with 10 being ideal), how well are we doing in terms of working together as a team?
  • On a 1 to 10 scale, how well do we need to be doing in terms of working together as a team?

This is important to determine whether the team feels that team building is important and needed. Your team members may report to the same manager, but have little reason to work together interactively as a team. Other people may believe that teamwork is important, but they already feel that the team is functioning well and a team-building activity might be a waste of time. 

2. Calculate and discuss the results with the team

Ask one of the team members to calculate the results of the questionnaire and discuss it together. If the team believes that there’s a need for team building, then we can proceed to the next step in the process. 

In most cases, team members believe that improving teamwork is both important and needed. Interviews with hundreds of teams in multinational companies showed that an average team member believed that their team is functioning at a 5.8 level of effectiveness, but needed to be at an 8.7 level — hence why there is a need for team building. 

3. Create a “behavior to change” flipchart

Now, ask the team members to answer the following question and record their selected behavior on flip charts. 

“If you could change two key behaviors that would help us close the gap between where we are and where we want to be, which two behaviors should we try to change?”

4. Choose the most important behavior to change

Filter out the same or similar behaviors and help the team members in prioritizing the most important behavior for everyone to change using consensus. 

5. Personal behavioral change dialogue (Feedforward)

Have each team member do a one-on-one dialogue (feedforward exercise) with everyone on the team, in which they will request their colleague to suggest 2 personal behaviors that the person can improve (other than the one agreed upon). 

The feedforward exercise can be done simultaneously and will take about 5 minutes each. Doing this will help close the gap between where the team currently is and where they want to be. There are several pointers that can help make this exercise more effective. The most important thing is to focus on what can be improved in the future instead of focusing on mistakes of the past. 

Learn more about Marshall Goldsmith’s Feedforward exercise here

6. Choose one key behavior for personal change

After having a one-on-one discussion with everyone on the team, the team member will have a list of suggested behaviors to change from their colleagues. Let them review their list and ask them to choose one that seems to be the most important. After that, have everyone on the team announce their one key behavior for personal change to the team. 

7. Do a monthly “suggestions for the future” questionnaire

Every month, encourage all team members to ask their colleagues for brief “suggestions for the future” to help increase their effectiveness in:

  • The one key behavior that all team members are trying to improve
  • The one personal behavior based on the team’s input
  • The overall effectiveness as a part of the team

8. Conduct a Mini-Survey

After approximately six months into the team building process, conduct a Mini-Survey to determine the team’s improvement. Through the Mini-Survey, each team member will get confidential feedback from their colleagues on their perceived change in effectiveness. 

Just like the monthly “suggestions for the future” questionnaire, this survey will include:

  • The one key behavior that all team members are trying to improve
  • The one personal behavior based on the team’s input
  • The overall effectiveness as a part of the team

As an additional question, you can ask about the level of the follow-up, so that the team can see the connection between their level of follow-up and their increased effectiveness. This survey can be distributed electronically or printed out (Download the Mini-Survey sample & Mini-Survey template)

9. Calculating results and summary report

Ask someone outside of the team to calculate the results for each of the team members on all items in the Mini-Survey. They will then receive a confidential summary report indicating the degree to which their colleagues see their effectiveness in demonstrating desired behaviors (team, personal and general). 

Our “before and after” studies have shown that team members who had followed up regularly with their colleagues will almost invariably be seen as increasing their effectiveness in their selected areas of behavioral improvement — whether it is personal, team, or overall team member behaviors. 

The Mini-Survey summary report will provide the team with positive reinforcement for improvement and learn what has not improved after a short period of time. It will also validate the importance of discipline and following up with their colleagues. 

10. Discuss key learnings

Arrange a meeting so that each team member can discuss key learnings from their Mini-Survey results. After that, conduct a short feedforward exercise, asking for further suggestions in a brief one-on-one dialogue with every team member. 

11. Review summary results with the team

Facilitate a discussion on how the team as a whole is progressing in terms of increasing its effectiveness on the two key behaviors that were selected. Don’t forget to provide the team with positive recognition for increased effectiveness and encourage everyone on the team to stay focused on improving those key behaviors. 

12. Conduct monthly “Progress Report” sessions

Ask team members to continue doing monthly “Progress Report” sessions with everyone on the team. And then, re-administer the Mini-Survey 8 months after the beginning of the process and again after 1 year. 

13. One-year summary session

A year after the team-building process started, conduct a summary session with the team to review the results of the final Mini-Survey. Ask the team to rate their team’s effectiveness now and where they need to be in terms of working together as a team. Compare this rating to the original rating calculated at the beginning of the process. 

If everyone on the team followed the team-building process with discipline, the team will see a significant improvement in how they work as a team. As always, provide positive recognition for their hard work and improvement the past 12 months and have each team member do the same for each other in a brief one-on-one dialogue. 

14. Continue or work on something else

Now, it’s time to ask the team whether they believe that more work on team building will be needed in the upcoming year. If they believe that doing so would be beneficial, then continue the process. But if they don’t think more work is needed, declare victory and try working on something else!

Why this team-building process works

Highly focused

Most feedback surveys processes ask team members to complete too many items — making the participants feel like they are wasting time. As a result, they will be less likely to put in the effort in changing their behavior or following up with their colleagues. On the contrary, team members would almost never object to completing our four-item Mini-Survey that is specifically designed to fit their unique needs. 

More frequent

Unlike most surveys that provide team members with feedback every 1 to 2 years, our process works because it occurs more frequently. The constant feedback and reinforcement for behavior change help participants in improving their effectiveness. 


Many team-building processes do not succeed because team members are mainly focused on solving someone else’s problems. However, this process encourages team members to focus on solving their own self-improvement. 
Now, it’s time for you to try it by yourself! Download the Mini-Survey sample & Mini-Survey template and start your “team building without time wasting” journey today.



Leave your reply.
  • Hello Team

    I am a Marshall Goldsmith SCC coach and have also completed the Team Coaching training in 2020 with Will Linssen before he split with the group.

    I would like to get details of the Team survey that I can administer. Please send me some information. Thank You

    Best Regards

  • Dale Laughlin
    · Reply

    I’m a MGSCC Executive and Team Coach. I’m seeing updated resources in your postings. Are these available in the Resources section of the website? Also, what updated coach training are you offering?

  • Im grateful for the post.

  • I think this site has got some really wonderful information for everyone :D. “Nothing surely is so disgraceful to society and to individuals as unmeaning wastefulness.” by Count Benjamin Thompson Rumford.

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