Team Action Planning

You’ve completed your first Team Discovery Session and you want to know what’s next. How do you take what you learned in your session and begin applying it day-to-day? It probably comes as no surprise that significant change takes time. That’s where the Team Action Planner comes in – you can use the planner to find actions and help uncover blind spots that are specific to your team.

What improvements should a team expect to see when they use the planner?

Once teams complete Team Discovery, they can visit the Team Action Planner on the Team Summary page. The Team Action Planner provides specific and actionable recommendations for teams to pursue improvements in their shared strategic blind spots.

Teams who use the planner and select shared goals can expect improvements not only in those areas, but also in overall group performance. 

Decades of research have shown that teams who participate in effective planning demonstrate improved coordination, communication, collective efficacy, morale, and overall team effectiveness (Fisher, 2014; Kleingeld et al., 2011; Marks et al., 2001). Teams who participate in planning tend to invest more effort into achieving their goals, which results in improved group performance (Weingart, 1992). Some research has even discovered that teams that envision and plan for their goals together demonstrate more innovative work behavior (Montani et al., 2014).

However, research has also found that considering how and when planning takes place, as well as what sort of planning occurs, is relevant to performance outcomes. Specifically, teams can participate in various types of planning, including deliberate planning, contingency planning, and reactive adjustment (DeChurch & Haas, 2008). 

Deliberate contingency planning takes place prior to teams taking action, while reactive adjustment occurs during team action phases. All three types of planning contribute to team effectiveness, but reactive adjustment—or adjusting the team’s plan as they experience unforeseen barriers or conditions—is most closely related to coordination and team effectiveness (DeChurch & Haas, 2008). 

Planning can involve both teamwork and taskwork. For example, effective planning involves discussion on how to complete a task, consideration of alternative actions, setting goals, identifying team member strengths and interdependencies, and clarifying team member roles. Planning task-related elements results in increased coordination, while planning team-related elements results in improved interpersonal processes (Fisher, 2014). 

Team action plans or goals can either be individual goals or shared, group-centric goals. In other words, team goals can be developed for each individual to complete on their own, or they can be designed to leverage each individuals’ strengths in pursuit of a shared desired outcome. Teams who specify group-centric goals tend to demonstrate stronger group performance, especially when their teams are interdependent (Kleingeld et al., 2011). 

Overall, teams that participate in collaborative action planning are more likely to demonstrate strong group performance, and reach specific team outcomes such as improved coordination, effort, and promote better interpersonal processes through support, motivation, and psychological safety. These specific team processes will contribute to overall group effectiveness. 

What is the science behind the Team Action Planner? How was it developed?

Research has shown that in order for teams to succeed and demonstrate strong group performance, they must engage in specific processes throughout the duration of their collaboration.

According to a taxonomy defined by Marks et al. (2001), teams take part in processes during either the transition or action phases of teamwork. Transition processes include mission analysis (identifying the mission and core team tasks), goal specification, and strategy formulation (developing courses of action). Action processes include monitoring progress, monitoring resources and conditions, assisting team members, and coordination.

Based on this taxonomy, researchers have found that strategy formulation—which many refer to as planning or goal setting—is a vital team process that not only initiates additional processes like coordination, cooperation, and effort (Fisher, 2014; Mehta et al., 2009), but is also predictive of overall group effectiveness and even individual work behaviors like innovation (Montani et al., 2014). Good strategy formulation or effective planning involves discussion of how to complete the task, consideration of team resources and member strengths, as well as specification of team member roles. 

Team Discovery helps teams with mission analysis—in other words, it allows teams to come to an agreement on their strategy, mission, and core capabilities and tasks. Identifying a mission is a core component of team effectiveness, but planning is the immediate determinant of behavior that carries teams from mission to action (Montani et al., 2014). The Team Action Planner promotes goal specification and adjustment specific to team areas of improvement. It was also designed to permit monitoring progress and coordination—both action processes that contribute to team effectiveness.

DeChurch and Haas (2008) defined three distinct types of planning: deliberate planning, contingency planning, and reactive adjustment. Each type of planning is important, but reactive adjustment—that is, planning that occurs in reaction to changing task or team conditions—is the most closely related to team effectiveness. The Team Action Planner is specifically designed to aid teams in reacting to their areas of caution. Based on the blind spots revealed in Team Discovery, our software suggests action plans so that teams can adjust. 

Finally, the Team Action Planner was designed to be utilized as a group. Research has found that group-centric goals, or goals that leverage individual contributions for group outcomes, are most closely related to group-level performance (Kleingeld et al., 2011). Each recommended action is designed to be applicable to the entire group. While they may be assigned to one person, they are not individual goals, and will require team buy-in and capabilities. These actions should therefore contribute to team, not individual, effectiveness.

Guidelines for implementing team action planning

We recommend that you begin using the Team Action Planner within two weeks of your initial Team Discovery session. Start small – selecting one or two actions to tackle first if your team is under 10 people, or two or three actions if your team is more than 10 people.

Team leaders and/or managers can use the planner, but they can delegate the actions to individuals on their team for completion.

The Team Action Planner is located on the Team Summary page under “Design” and “Browse Teams.”

We recommended that you discuss with your team how often you would like to complete actions. Some teams opt to complete one or two on a bi-weekly, monthly, or even quarterly basis. How often you complete actions is totally up to you, and what works best for your team.

The Predictive Index is currently working to enhance the action planning experience for its users. Anyone wishing to weigh in on future improvements to the Team Action Planner may do so here: https://tpi.getfeedback.com/r/W19U01eH.

References

  • DeChurch, L. A., & Haas, C. D. (2008). Examining team planning through an episodic lens: Effects of deliberate, contingency, and reactive planning on team effectiveness. Small Group Research, 39(5), 542-568.
  • Fisher, D. M. (2014). Distinguishing between taskwork and teamwork planning in teams: Relations with coordination and interpersonal processes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(3), 423-436.
  • Kleingeld, A., van Mierlo, H., & Arends, L. (2011). The effect of goal setting on group performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(6), 1289-1304.
  • Marks, M. A., Mathieu, J. E., & Zaccaro, S. J. (2001). A temporally based framework and taxonomy of team processes. Academy of Management Review, 26, 356-376. 
  • Mehta, A., Feild, H., Armenakis, A., & Mehta, N. (2009). Team goal orientation and team performance: The mediating role of team planning. Journal of Management, 35(4), 1026-1046.
  • Montani, F., Odoardi, C., & Battistelli, A. (2014). Envisioning, planning, and innovating: A closer investigation of proactive goal generation, innovative work behaviour, and boundary conditions. Journal of Business Psychology, 30, 415-433.
  • Weingart, L. R. (1992). Impact of group goals, task component complexity, effort, and planning on group performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 682-693.

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