After gathering input for the monthly KPI assessment, the team leader excitedly reported: “Look at this KPI on teamwork. It clearly shows that during the last three months the group’s perception of teamwork has gone up.”

I was not convinced it was true teamwork, “Interesting, yet on closer inspection and if we look at two other KPIs, namely trust and workload, I’m not so sure”.

The team leader was shocked. Then continued to debate “but out of 17 people 50% have reported an improvement on the previous month”.

“Yes but it is on a very superficial level. Simply put there is no change in trust, and workload has worsened.”

I explained further “trust is the foundation of teamwork. We need to trust each other to be able to debate, in a safe environment, without hurting.” I continued “as the workload has worsened it means people are not pushing back and just accept the additional workload”. Finally, “The team is not yet a real team. We can now see this and we can do something about it”.

In fact the KPI’s were the tool that allowed the company to identify this. After further analysis it became clear that the root-course was due to recent changes. The 17 people had been organized into so-called micro-teams. Each micro-team had a new team leader and each team leader was trying to exercise their authority in a command-and-control manner, hence the increase in workload. The sense of belonging to a small micro team was the explanation for the improved sense of teamwork but real-teamwork based on trust had not yet been able to emerge.

But at least we could see it. We could see it because we chose the right metrics and could interpret them accordingly and put measures in place to build real teamwork.

Yet, how does Agile help with teamwork, especially remote teams? Read about that next

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