Team Performance, Sustainability and Bananarama

A little while ago, I worked with a senior leadership team in a FTSE 100 company, which was grappling with how to measure its ‘performance’. Team members were bonused on delivering against particular KPIs, and both individual and team outcomes would be under the microscope, which put an edge in the conversation, as you can imagine. One section of the KPIs, recently introduced into that business, was not on what was to be delivered, the output, but on how it was delivered. This was a new indicator of ‘performance’. It was about values, behaviours, relationships and leadership qualities displayed, and how staff felt about the leadership team.

It seems that one of the great pop tie-ups of the 1980s, The Fun Boy Three and Bananarama was close to the truth in declaring:

‘Its not what you do, it’s the way that you do it, and that’s what gets results.’

Why is ‘how you do it’ so important? For me, its important because in an age in which short term gain has caused so much damage to the world economy, we need to look at how to create performance that is sustainable – and that requires us to look at metrics other than output. Lets look at this from the leadership team’s perspective.

Close but no cigar…

No good hitting the numbers this year and then witnessing an exodus of team members because they can’t stand being in the business a moment longer. If they deliver but feel burnout, unwell, unappreciated, and as if they are stagnating, that won’t help the business. And customers get this too – they know what quality looks like. If the product is great but the customer service is shocking (because you are not leading it well because, lets face it, all things are connected), they will not buy.

A solution for you and your team

For some time now, we have been inviting teams and individual leaders we work with to look at what they wish to create and what they are already creating though may not be aware of. We ask them to rate each of the following four areas in relation to their work together, out of 10 – both on how it is now as well as how they would like it to be:

  1. Performance – How is the team performing? What output is being created? (Time, cost, quality are good words to use here.)
  2. Learning – Are team members learning together, expanding their collective capacity to deliver? Are they developing the knowledge skills and abilities, which will assist team delivery and longer term careers?
  3. Enjoyment – Is the team a source of joy and satisfaction, adding a spring to the step? Do they look forward to pursuing the team’s goals?
  4. Meaning – Is the team pursuing something important, something that is meaningful to team members? Something they can share with others and be proud of being part of?

To help, we put this in a pictorial form on a flip chart. Do the scoring at a break in the meeting, inviting private scoring by turning the flip chart into the corer of the room.

Diamond eg

The proposition is that each of these areas contributes to sustainability. The more the team can learn together, the more powerful they will be together; the more they enjoy their work as a team, the more they will produce; the more meaningful they find their work, the more they will put in that discretionary effort, go the extra mile.

Then the conversation

Once done, the team can examine where the scores. These questions can contribute to the all-important conversation:

  1. Where is the team now and what has contributed to that?
  2. Where would the team like to be and what makes this compelling?
  3. What can you do, individually and collectively, to move this forward?

Team members start to share what is important for them, what they need to be successful and how they will reach and sustain performance.

This becomes a ‘jumping off point’ for a whole raft of conversations from goal setting to how they lead the business through to the culture they create. The more practical, focused conversation, the more alignment there will be. The more alignment, the more successful the team will be…

Our team found this exercise a great bridge to the wider question of corporate measurement – realising that if they can be aware of their own sustainable performance as a team, then it is easier to connect that with their ability to lead others.

And that’s what gets sustainable results…


© David Webster, Centre for Teams, 2015


  • Leading Teams, setting the stage for great performances by J. Richard Hackman ISBN: 978-1-57851-333-8
  • The Inner Game of Work by Timothy Gallwey ISBN-13: 978-1587990472
  • With thanks also to Charles Brook at the Performance Coach