top of page

Time for a team performance review? Improv can help you with that!

It’s April in Amsterdam and that means things are warming up. The tulips are showing their colours, the tourists are showing theirs and we are about to embark on a string of national holidays.

It is also the start of Quarter 2. Seriously. This is a great time to pause, reflect and take stock of how well your teams are performing across your organisation. We know that individual performance reviews shouldn’t be a one-off event, nor should focusing on team performance.

Recently I was invited to work with a senior functional leadership team in a global manufacturing organisation. The team leader was dissatisfied with the overall performance of the team. Decisions were continually being reopened, there was a lack of shared understanding of and confusion about the work of the team and, behaviours were not what was needed to be a high-performing team.

This is not as unusual as you might think. Take a moment and ask yourself how effective is your team. Well, if the research is anything to go by, only 25 per cent of teams rate themselves as outstanding. If teams are the heart of organisations, why do we accept this?

Team Structure Drives Behaviours

In my work as a professional organisation development consultant, I see that many teams are not set up or designed for success. Whilst team building events create camaraderie, they can’t overcome the dysfunctions that can emerge when a leader has not designed their time for impact.

What I have learned over many years working with a wide variety of teams is that structure and design drive behaviours. So what does it mean to have a well-designed team? As a team leader, or someone who works with teams, what questions should you be thinking about as you design or review your team?

At easylaughs, we like to use the 6 Team Conditions framework which emerged from decades of research by leading teams scholars at Harvard University. Their work identified 6 Conditions that are all actionable, designable elements of teams and together, they foster great teamwork and significant accomplishment over time.

  1. Does the work need a real team or could it be done by a group?

  2. Do you have a clear and compelling team purpose?

  3. Do you have the right people with a good mix of skills and diversity?

  4. Has the team established and agreed on work practices, norms and behaviours that align with the work of the team?

  5. Is there a supportive context from the organisation at large so that the team is set up for success?

  6. Does the team have access to coaching (internal or external) that helps the team make use of its resources?

These 6 conditions can account for up to 80% of a team’s effectiveness. Whether you are launching a new team, or needing to relaunch an existing team, working through these questions is a critical leadership task.

So what is the link with improvisation, I hear you ask?

Plenty! Improvisation is a team activity. Successful improv teams can tick off each of the 6 Team Conditions. And so can you. Here are three examples:

The Interdependency of a Real Team: The success of all improv games requires building on each other’s offers and allowing ourselves to be influenced by our fellow players. This give-and-take is a clear example of interdependency.

Valuing Diversity of Skills and Talents: Improvisation is at its best when unlimited perspectives are allowed to emerge. Further, the team knows what each person brings to the stage and uses this to enhance a performance.

Agreed Norms and Behaviours: Beyond the rules of the various games, improv has a number of core principles (or norms) that all players follow. By doing so, we know what we can expect from each other and the type of interactions we will have.

How we can support you

At easylaughs, we are not only improvisers, but also specialists in a number of organisation fields. We work with teams and use improv to help them quickly experience and understand what are the conditions for being a high-performing team.

We have developed full and half-day sessions that walk a team through the key elements of the 6 Team Conditions framework. We can also assess your team using the Team Diagnostic Survey based on the 6 Team Conditions Framework. The results give you powerful insights into the strengths and areas of development for your team.

We also have our fun and engaging 2-hour team-building session. You can read more about our workplace workshops on the easylaughs site.

If you would like to plan a high-performing team (HPT) workshop or a team-building session, email us today. Or to discuss in detail how we can support you, use the button below to set up a short call.


bottom of page