Team Effectiveness Models: 11 Ways to Think About Your Team and Boost Performance

There are a lot of team effectiveness models out there, that look at the ways that teams function and seek to provide guidance for improving team performance. Here we look at 11 of these models, and analyze some of the benefits that their insights offer.

Teams are complex–they combine individuals, relationships, structures, and roles for the purpose of accomplishing goals. Teams are each unique too, using a diverse array of ways to combine, delegate tasks and engage in productive activities.

Because of the complexity of teams and their functions, a number of team effectiveness models have been developed to try to bring clarity to what makes teams “pop”. In effect, these models are trying to determine the secret of teams, and the special ingredients that make some teams perform better than others.

As a team building company, we at Invite Japan are invested in helping to make teams become the best that they can be. Our own team building workshops utilize team effectiveness models, such as the Belbin Team Roles model and psychological safety, in order to illustrate team building concepts to clients in an easy-to-comprehend way. But there’s always more to learn.

So in this blog post, we’ll be reviewing 6 of some of the most widely-referenced team effectiveness models. Some of them, like the Google model, you may have heard before. We’ll also be giving our own brief analysis of what each model means for teams and what the major takeaways are.

What is a Team Effectiveness Model?

Team effectiveness models are frameworks designed to enhance the productivity and efficiency of a team within an organization. These models provide a structured approach to understanding the dynamics of a team and the factors that contribute to its success or failure. They are used to identify areas of strength and weakness within a team, and to guide the development of strategies for improvement.

There are several well-known team effectiveness models, each with its unique focus and approach. For instance, the GRPI model, developed by Richard Beckhard, emphasizes the importance of Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal relationships within a team. The Katzenbach and Smith model, on the other hand, focuses on Commitment, Skills, and Accountability.

Other models like the T7 model, the LaFasto and Larson model, the Lencioni model, Tuckman’s FSNP model, the Hackman model, and the Salas, Dickinson, Converse and Tannenbaum model, each offer different perspectives on team effectiveness, addressing various aspects such as trust, talent, leadership, organizational support, and more.

In essence, team effectiveness models serve as a roadmap for creating and maintaining successful teams. They help in setting clear goals, defining roles and responsibilities, establishing effective communication, fostering trust and accountability, and ensuring the right support and resources are available for the team. By understanding and applying these models, organizations can enhance team collaboration, improve performance, and ultimately achieve their objectives more efficiently.

Why use team effectiveness models?

But first, an important question to ask is why we use models in the first place? What uses do they serve, especially when it comes to team building? 

I think we all intuitively know that models are not “real” and are based on a lot of assumptions, some of which may not always mirror real life or real situations. However, models allow us to see how things “could be” in certain situations.

In this sense, models present “ideals” to which we can compare our own situation. This can be highly useful if we’re unsure about what to do or where to go if we want to push ourselves further.

Thus, the following models are not to be taken as saying what teams “must” do, always, or else they are failures. Rather, they have the potential to help teams figure out how to make themselves better by showing them potential paths for improving performance, efficiency, relationships, or whatever else the model is attempting to show. 

So with this attitude of openness, curiosity, and a willingness to improve in mind, we present our list of 6 team effectiveness models…

11 Team effectiveness models

1. The GPRI Model

Overview

The GPRI team effectiveness model, developed in 1972, examines four components that make up teams. Those four components are:

  • Goals: What the team wishes to achieve.
  • Procedures: How teams accomplish their goals.
  • Roles: The delegation of tasks to individual team members.
  • Interpersonal relationships: How team members work together to complete tasks and accomplish goals.
Image from https://www.aihr.com/blog/grpi-model/

Takeaways

The GPRI team effectiveness model  is very intuitive and gives a good breakdown of the most obvious components that make up teams. For teams that want a general look at how to improve their performance, this model is a good first step. However, because it is so basic (in a good way), and because its concepts have become so ingrained in team building and organizational studies, teams looking for more in-depth analysis of how to perform better may want to look to other models.

2. The Lafasto and Larson Model 

Overview

The Lafasto and Larson model also looks at the basic elements that make up a team, but through the lens of the different “layers” that build on each other, creating a pyramid structure.

Here are the five layers (starting from the bottom):

  1. Team Member: Team members as individuals are the building blocks of all teams.
  2. Team Relationships: When team members combine, they form relationships that begin to make up the team.
  3. Team Problem Solving: Once relationships have formed, team members can work together to make decisions and accomplish tasks.
  4. Team Leadership: In order to solve problems more effectively, leaders and leadership structures emerge to guide the team, through encouragement, support, and feedback.
  5. Organization and structure: The last layer is the team’s structure and culture, which affects the rest of the layers and ties them more cohesively together.

Takeaways

The Lafasto and Larson team effectiveness model is interesting in that it centers its analysis on individual team members and builds from there. Using this model, teams will be able to see the interlocking nature of individuals, relationships, goals, leadership, and culture. The overriding focus of this model, therefore, is on individuals and how they come together to form a cohesive unit, strengthened by the overall supporting structure that the team creates. 

3. The Tuckman Model

Overview

The Tuckman model is another classic team effectiveness model. Developed in 1965, it looks at the “lifecycle” of teams as a way to analyze how they operate and how they can improve performance at each stage of their development. 

Originally there were four stages of team development in the model, which was later changed to five. They are:

  1. Forming: The stage when the team first comes together and begins to set out on determining and accomplishing their goals.
  2. Storming: At this stage, ideas come into conflict with each other as the team figures out exactly how to proceed in accomplishing its goals, and how to delegate tasks.
  3. Norming: If teams get through the storming stage, things begin to settle down. Processes and a culture emerge, and activities become standardized.
  4. Performing: The peak of team success occurs in this stage, when the team knows what it needs to do and knows how to do it. Team members are on the same page, and the team functions smoothly.
  5. Adjourning: This can either mean the end of the team or the end of the project. The team wraps up its activities and reflects on the work that it has done. After this, team members may break up, or move on to another project together (in which case they will move back to one of the earlier stages).
Image from https://www.thecoachingtoolscompany.com/get-your-team-performing-beautifully-with-this-powerful-group-development-model/

Takeaways

The Tuckman model is useful at seeing how teams develop, and the different stages that teams go through on their way to becoming high-performing teams. The process is not always linear, since teams can move up and down the different stages at any time. The model is also noteworthy for placing conflict (the “storming stage”) as a necessary part of team development. 

This model might therefore give teams a good roadmap of where to head in their own development, or in their work on individual projects.

4. The Drexler-Sibbet Model 

Overview

The Drexler-Sibbet team performance model also looks at team performance from a developmental performance. It divides the stages of developing team performance into two categories: creating and sustaining. The former involves four stages that allow for the creation of high-functioning teams, while the latter three stages determine how to keep the momentum going.

Creating 

  1. Orientation (why): Understanding the team’s purpose and reason for being and identity.
  2. Trust Building (who): Understanding who you are working with and bringing them together in trust-based relationships. The goal here is to make sure that team members can depend on each other.
  3. Goal Clarification (what): Understanding what exactly you want to achieve as a team and what are going to do to achieve it. This means coming up with clear goals and plans. 
  4. Commitment (how): Understanding what roles people will take on and how they will contribute to the team’s goals. 

Sustaining 

  1. Implementation (who, what, when, where): Keeping a team motivated means ensuring that team members continue to know what they are doing and where they should be heading. This stage means keeping organized, focused, and on the same page.
  2. High performance (wow): At this stage, teams know what they are doing and can therefore perform at a high level. They no longer need to understand the basics and can work together intuitively and spontaneously, leading to higher and higher levels of performance.
  3. Renewal (continue): At some point the team will need to refresh itself, either by redefining its goals or looking for new ones. At this point, the team can move back to lower stages and renew the process in order to become even better.

Takeaways

The Drexler-Sibbet team effectiveness model is a detailed look at how teams develop and become high performing teams, from start to finish. Like the Tuckman model, it is useful at providing a road map for teams. Especially in the creating stages, it can also draw attention to important questions that teams should continually ask themselves in order to keep from stagnating.  

5. The Hackman Model 

Overview

The Hackman team effectiveness model looks at five components or conditions that allow teams to thrive and perform well. 

First, he lists three attributes of team effectiveness:

  1. Satisfying internal and external demands (i.e. from team members and clients).
  2. Developing ways to adapt to and perform in the future (forward-thinking, resilience).
  3. Giving team members ways to find meaning within the group.

Next, he lists the five conditions that allow for these kinds of teams to emerge and develop:

  1. Being a Real Team: By this he means having shared tasks, as well as a stable membership, where individuals know clearly who is on the team and who is not.
  2. Compelling Direction: This component involves having clearly defined goals that give team members meaning and purpose, and which are also accomplishable.
  3. Enabling Structure: How the team functions and the structures surrounding it. Are the theme structures and culture supportive? Are they conducive to teamwork and productivity?
  4. Supportive Context: Team members need to feel that they are being supported in their roles and efforts, by being given rewards, information and development opportunities.
  5. Expert Coaching: Team members also need to have learning and mentoring opportunities so that they continue to become better and progress in their skills and relationships. This includes both internal coaching (from superiors, veterans, etc.) as well as external coaching (training seminars, team building workshops, third-party facilitators, etc.)
Image from http://www.free-management-ebooks.com/faqld/development-03.htm

Takeaways

The Hackman team effectiveness model is another classic team building model that has influenced other models (as we shall see). While it tends to not focus on what makes a team in the first place (“being a real team” is less defined here, and almost taken as an assumption), what it it does do well is turn the attention on what to provide team members with in order to make them perform as best as they can.

Specifically, support and coaching (mentorship and training) are two aspects of team effectiveness that are still overlooked on many teams. 

6. The Salas, Dickinson, Converse, and Tannenbaum Model

Overview

This team effectiveness model from 1992 is an adaptation of the Hackman model, and looks more deeply at the notion of supportive context and what that really means. In this model, there are six elements that lead to high-performing teams:

  1. Organizational Context: This includes external and internal support, education and rewards. It’s also having the general backing of the team when performing roles. 
  2. Team Design: How the team determines goals and defines its structure.
  3. Team Synergy: How team members work together and their shared enthusiasm for accomplishing their goals.
  4. Process effectiveness: The strategies that teams use to accomplish tasks, as well as the ability of the team to evaluate these methods and strategies.
  5. Material resources: The resources that help team members complete tasks, such as money and supplies. 
  6. Group effectiveness: The support that team members give each other through their relationships and interreliance. 

Takeaways

The Salas, Dickinson, Converse and Tannebaum model deepens the Hackman model and really gives a thorough look at what team and team members need to thrive. Its not only about material resources or training, but also about supportive team working structures and how the general culture of the team helps team members to combine their skills and help each other. In this way, this particular team effectiveness model may be better for teams that are already developed and looking for specific ways to improve their team’s functioning.

7. The T7 Model

Overview

Created in 1995 by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger, the T7 team effectiveness model presents seven factors that contribute to the performance of teams–all of which start with the letter “T”.

Image from https://www.kornferry.com/content/dam/kornferry/docs/pdfs/driving-team-effectiveness.pdf

 Five of these factors are “internal”, meaning that they occur within the bounds of what the team itself can optimize and control. The other two factors are “external”; they are not directly or completely controlled by the dynamics of the team itself.

Internal Factors

  • Thrust: The common purpose of the team; what it is driving at and wants to accomplish.
  • Trust: Team members’ ability to rely and depend on, and support each other.
  • Talent: The abilities and skill of the team and its members.
  • Teaming skills: How team members work together and cooperate.
  • Task skills: How well the team is able to get the job done and accomplish tasks.

External Factors

  • Team-leader fit: How well the team leader manages the team and fits its needs.
  • Team support from the organization: The extent to which the larger organization in which the team works provides support and resources that promote its growth.

Takeaways

The T7 team effectiveness model, beyond its cute alphabetical hook, actually does provide a unique insight into the different elements that comprise a team and how they fit together. Each one of these factors can even be broken down further into smaller factors (for example, “Talent” includes both hiring and acquisition of talent, as well as making sure that talent is deployed effectively) for a more detailed analysis of team performance.

Another crucial insight in this model is that it takes into account what teams can’t control. While team building generally focuses on what teams can achieve and create, the truth is that at some point teams will confront external forces that affect their ability to perform. Acknowledging these externalities and learning how to deal with them is thus another element of an effective team.

8. The Robbins and Judge Model 

Overview

The Robbins and Judge team effectiveness model focuses its attention on four areas of high-performing teams. In a sense, the model discusses what teams should have in order to work well and accomplish goals.

The four areas the model addresses are:

  1. Context: This means having adequate resources, an effective leadership structure, an environment built on trust, and ways to evaluate and reward performance.  These are the background structures that provide the foundations for the team.
  2. Composition: This refers to the composition of team members. It means having a well-balanced and diverse team in terms of skills, personalities and experiences, as well as the right amount of team members for the task. It also means that roles are properly defined and allocated.
  3. Work Design: This relates to job workflow and task identity. Do workers have freedom and agency in their tasks? Is there enough skill variety and opportunities for development? Do team members feel motivated? Is there a proportional distribution of tasks and are there any blockages in the team workflow?
  4. Team Process: This component addresses how the team functions, and includes things like creating shared goals and common purposes. It also relates to how well the team manages conflict, and whether all team members take individual responsibility for the growth and development of the team.

Takeaways 

The Robbins and Judge model lays out a promising ideal in its four factors. While not necessarily providing a step-by-step process for teams to follow, the model is useful in providing a blueprint for teams to aspire to. The four components also include important facets of teams that are often taken for granted, such as workflows and the process that teams use to work more effectively together.

9. The Katzenbach and Smith Model

Overview 

This team effectiveness model from 1993 is based on the studies of the two eponymous researchers on teams experiencing workplace issues. The model first defines the different levels of teamwork and the different teams that they produce. It then goes on to describe what the highest level of teams can achieve, and what other teams need to work on to reach this level.

Image from https://www.praxisframework.org/en/library/katzenbach-and-smith

The five levels of teamwork

  1. Working Group
  2. Pseudo-Team 
  3. Potential Team
  4. Real Team 
  5. High-Performing Team (what all teams strive for)

What high-performing teams can achieve

  • Performance Results: High-performing teams obviously are better at achieving goals and getting tasks completed.
  • Collective Work Products: Going beyond just performing tasks, high-performing teams are able to work together to produce new ideas, processes, and innovative solutions to problems.
  • Personal Growth: Beyond the collective benefits, high-performing teams are capable of giving individual team members a sense that they are developing their skills and achieving their own personal goals. 

The three basics of real teams 

  1. Accoutability
  2. Commitment
  3. Skills

The six factors that allow teams to perform optimally

  1. Small numbers: Team members need to interact with each other.
  2. Complimentary skills: A mix of different skills is preferable.
  3. Meaningful purpose: Strong teams have a strong “vision”. 
  4. Specific goals: SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-constrained) goals connected to the purpose.
  5. Clear approach to working: Everyone understands what they need to do and work on to achieve the goals. 
  6. Mutual accountability: Team members can rely on each other and hold each other to account.

Takeaways

The Katzenbach and Smith model of team effectiveness demonstrates the benefits of high-performing teams, not just how to become them. In this sense, the inclusion of personal growth as one of the main outcomes emphasizes that teams are composed of individuals with their own needs, but that the best teams lead both individual members and the collective team to greater growth. It may be good at getting teams that aren’t working so well together to think in a more team-spirited way.

10. The Lencioni Model 

Overview

The Lencioni model of team effectiveness is unique from all the others, in that it looks at what teams shouldn’t do or be. In this way, it sets up a negative model for how not to act, and which practices can be dysfunctional when it comes to productive teams. Knowing these dysfunctions can therefore help teams avoid them and learn what not to do.

Image from https://www.executiveagenda.com/application/files/3616/2085/3781/five-dysfunctions-brochure.pdf

The five dysfunctions are:

  1. Absence of trust: When team members don’t really trust each other, they can’t work effectively.
  2. Fear of conflict: Managed conflict is necessary on teams in order to deal with issues. Avoiding conflict at all costs can leave issues undecided and emotions pent-up, which can cause larger issues down the line. 
  3. Lack of commitment: Team members need to commit to the goals and purpose of the team, otherwise there will be less motivation to work hard and succeed.
  4. Avoidance of accountability: A lack of accountability erodes trust and the reliance that team members must necessarily have on each other. It also reveals a lack of responsibility for the team and how it performs.
  5. Inattention to results: Teams need to be able to assess how they are doing and reflect on their performance. Not paying attention  to the results of their work, whether they are good or bad, will lead teams to stagnate and repeat the same mistakes.

Takeaways

The Lencioni model provides a “what not to do” approach to team effectiveness models. This perspective will be useful for teams that are generally in a good position, but who might want to be aware of any blindposts in their team building that they might be missing. The fact that conflict is portrayed as necessary is also noteworthy, and is something that teams often get wrong (but as we shall see below, the necessity of conflict is the basis of many newer theories of team effectiveness).  

11. The Google Model 

Overview 

The Google model is based on the finding of the company’s 2015 re:Work study, which sought to determine what makes an effective team by interviewing 200 of its employees. The findings revealed that what was most important for team members was the need to feel psychologically safe in their interactions with other team members. Other dynamics, likewise, reflected the importance of interactions and the subjective psychological feelings of work. 

The five dynamics of the model are:

  • Psychological Safety: Where team members feel free from fear and anxiety about speaking out and sharing ideas and feelings.  
  • Dependability: Team members feel that they can rely on each other. 
  • Structure and Clarity: The team and organization has supportive structures and clear goals.  
  • Meaning of Work: Team members find meaning in what they do, believe that this meaning aligns with the team’s goals, and feel motivated to continue growing with the team.
  • Impact of Work: Team members feel that what they do has an effect. They can see this effect in their interactions with team members as well as the outside world. 

Takeaways

The Google model for the most part reiterates ideas that have been brought up in other models. One thing that stands out is psychological safety, which has made big waves in the team building and HR worlds, and is a vital concept for thinking about how to increase creativity and motivation on teams. 

However, one limitation of this model is that it is based on individual, subjective opinions. Understanding the underlying emotions and psychology of individual team members may be important for creating a happy team. but understanding the interaction between these individuals is also crucial, and is something that the model is a little vague on.    

Related Articles

Contents