Does Your Team Have a Healthy “Locker Room”?

For USA Major League Baseball fans, Wednesday night, September 28, goes down in sports history as the date of two of the biggest baseball team collapses ever.

The Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves lost big division leads during September. Pressure mounted heading into Wednesday evening; the losses they each experienced that night kept them out of the post-season playoffs – which were only weeks earlier a near “sure thing.”

When sports teams do not meet expectations, it is most often the head coach or manager who takes the fall. Boston’s manager, Terry Francona, resigned on Friday, September 30, indicating the team “needed a different voice” because players had not responded to his coaching during their difficult September.

Though the Red Sox missed the playoffs for the second year in a row, Francona led the team to World Series championships in 2004 and 2007. He was the franchise’s most winning manager. The Red Sox never had a losing season under Francona’s guidance.

Francona’s lack of effective leadership led to a “mis-aligned locker room.” Apparently the team’s pitchers were seen drinking beer during games. Some had not maintained their fitness levels during the season. To few of the highly paid acquisitions contributed down the stretch, despite their manager’s efforts.

Francona is no longer Boston’s manager. I believe that a talented, inspiring leader of his caliber won’t be out of a job long.

Assess the Health of Your Team’s “Locker Room”

How team members treat each other, their customers, and their boss are strong indicators of the team’s locker room culture. My co-author colleagues (of Blanchard’s award-winning culture change process) and I use the questions below to conduct an initial assessment of client organizations that are concerned about their corporate culture.

By answering the questions below, you’ll reach a better understanding of how well your team’s current operations compare to the best practices of high performing, values-aligned teams.

Rate your team using the 1-6 point scale below:

1 – Strongly Disagree
2 – Disagree
3 – Slightly Disagree
4 – Slightly Agree
5 – Agree
6 – Strongly Agree

  1. Team members have defined their personal purpose & values.
  2. Organizational systems, policies, and procedures enable team members to be peak performers.
  3. Each team member has an up-to-date written performance plan that describes specific goals to be achieved.
  4. Team members regularly praise and encourage each other for their peers’ goal accomplishments.
  5. Team members are held accountable for both performance (goal accomplishment) AND good citizenship (modeling our company values).
  6. Individual team member goals are aligned with team and organization goals.
  7. Declared team values are the foundation for team decisions and actions.
  8. Team members regularly praise and encourage each other for their peers’ citizenship (modeling our company values).
  9. Our work environment builds trust among team members.
  10. Our organization’s values are well-defined, with specific, measurable behaviors listed for each value.
  11. Team members understand how their work improves the quality of life for peers, customers, and stakeholders.
  12. Team members keep their commitments and promises to each other.

It is rare to find an organization that does all of these activities well. Desired scores – by leaders and team members – are consistent ratings at the 5-6 level.

Refining an intact team’s culture is easier than refining a large organization’s culture. And, our proven process helps senior leaders change an organization’s culture, demonstrating remarkable results in as little as 18-24 months.

Rate your team’s “locker room” and share your insights in the comments section below.

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  • That is a really simple yet effective questionnaire. Although, I can completely understand why very few organizations average 5-6 on some of these as they are difficult to achieve consistently at the organizational level. However, at the intact team level, they are all achievable.

    I’d like to run this questionnaire with a few teams in our organization and then I’ll come back and let you know the type of results we are seeing.

    • Thanks for your interest, Simon. I’d be happy to learn how your organization’s teams score on this abbreviated assessment. (The full assessment we use with culture clients is 22 items.)

      Few organizations meet these best practice criteria because senior leaders rarely manage their organization’s desired culture proactively. We’ve helped dozens of organizations align leaders & staff to desired performance & values standards over the years!

      Certainly intact teams are less complex beasts to align, yet they can benefit a great deal from these best practices. And, if the organization’s “playing field” does not enable consistent high performance and accountability for espoused valued behaviors, beneficial impact is short of what it could be for that team.

      Cheers!

      C.

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