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Team Performance Model

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

I believe a team leader’s role is to maximize the team’s potential to achieve the team’s mission while simultaneously developing each individual's skills, abilities, and character. Remember when we were kids and we would see Play Doh commercials of elaborate creations you could make. Something like this:



Inevitably, mine would end up like this:



However, it was fun nonetheless as long as I wasn’t overly concerned with the output more so than the process. This is the way God sees us in his church. In Jeremiah 18:2-6, God told Jeremiah to


“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does? Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”


Our jobs at team leaders who are following Christ are to discern what God is doing with our teams and not only allow him to do so but also to call out what we see him doing such that we all learn as we are shaped. The most important work that God is doing through us is the work God is doing with us and in us. This is true of us as individuals and of us as teams.


However, we are not soft, pliable, shapeable clay. We are all broken vessels. Our pasts, our mistakes, our experiences, our disappointments, our loss, all of these have broken us. The best we can do is attempt to put the pieces back together. There is a centuries-old Japanese art form called kintsugi which means “joining with gold.” Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.



When performed well, the broken pottery is once again beautiful and functional and where the pot was broken becomes the strongest and most interesting parts. This is our role as leaders. We can’t ignore our broken parts. We must work with God to make the summation more glorious than it would have been otherwise.


There are literally hundreds or more different team development models. I’ve struggled finding usefulness with most of them. The one I’ve learned to rely on and trust more than any is the Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model. Not only do I believe it is helpful, I’ve seen it play out in practice enough to believe it is reliable. The model was developed by Allan Drexler and David Sibbet in the 1980’s and is a proprietary asset of Mr. Sibbet’s consulting firm, The Grove Consultants International. I believe the model is very useful in its own right, I do adapt it a bit as I am trying to follow Jesus and execute the model in the context of the church and teams that want to operate on Christian foundations. I will describe the model briefly below with the description given by The Grove group and then I will explain the lens I look through for believers. I will then dedicate at least one article to each of these seven steps.



Orientation:

When teams are forming, everybody wonders WHY they are here, what their potential fit is and whether others will accept them. People need some kind of answer to continue.

Darin’s adaptation:

This is a critical step especially for Christ-following teams. First of all, our identities have to be firmly rooted in our identity as adopted sons and daughters of the King. And as good subjects of a King, our full potential will only be realized as we understand our assigned role. In the Christian world, we call this one’s calling.


Trust Building:

Next, people want to know WHO they will work with–their expectations, agendas, and competencies. Sharing builds trust and a free exchange among team members.

Darin’s adaptation:

I label this one “Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?” Beyond one’s identity in Christ, we also need to understand our gifts, talents, and skills and those of our teammates. I find so many of us are unaware fully of the authority and power of the gifts given to us personally much less those of those we work with the most. This step is a lot of work but very much worth it. This is also where we understand where God does his own art through Kintsugi. Teams are beautiful pieces of art put together from broken people.


Goal Clarification:

The more concrete work of the team begins with clarity about team goals, basic assumptions and vision. Terms and definitions come to the fore. WHAT are the priorities?

Darin’s adaptation:

Most teams and team leaders start here. That is a huge mistake. You must understand your true identity and gift sets, personally and collectively, in order to fully understand what God is asking you to do. It is more than goals. A military doesn’t start with the goal of the unit. It starts with a vision and a mission before success can be defined.


Commitment:

At some point discussions need to end and decisions must be made about HOW resources, time, staff–all the bottom line constraints–will be managed. Agreed roles are key.

Darin’s adaptation:

The book Four Disciplines of Execution, a Franklin Covey book, says that 80% of operations fail at the execution level rather than strategy. Yet most teams spend 80% of their time on strategy. We have to put systems in place to deliver on the strategy or the mission will never be realized.


Implementation:

Teams turn the corner when they begin to sequence work and settle on WHO does WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE in action. Timing and schedule dominate this stage.

Darin’s adaptation:

As we’ve discussed in a previous article, holding our teammates accountable could be the most loving act we could do as a team and human nature makes this one of the most difficult to follow through on as a leader and teammate. In order to hold one accountable, you must have clarity on expectations on what work must be done by whom and by when. It is critical.


High Performance:

When methods are mastered, a team can begin to change its goals and flexibly respond to the environment. The team can say, “WOW!” and surpass expectations.

Darin’s adaptation:

This is where we all are aiming. We want high performance teams. Unfortunately for all of us, it is as rare as a peacock tarantula, which is a real thing and extremely cool looking. (Click the link to see if you dare.) Some of this is because of inadequate leadership and poor followership but it also is a result of impatience and staff turnover. However, when it happens, it is beautiful to behold.


Renewal:

Teams are dynamic. People get tired; members change. People wonder, “WHY continue?” It’s time to harvest learning and prepare for a new cycle of action.

Darin’s adaptation:

Renewal has to happen for a variety of reasons. Staff turnover. Mission shift. Priority adjustment. Competitive landscape changes. Renewal happens anytime any of the former six steps change.



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