Maximizing effectiveness – Teambuilding with the Klein Group Instrument
Maximizing Effectiveness – A weekend of Ah-Ha’sWhen the board of a busy, 2,000 member international organization meets face to faceonly once a year, productivity is a priority. With a tight agenda laid out in front of them,the APTi Board of Directors knew they had to maximize their results at the annualmeeting in January at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, Texas, site of the 2009 AugustConference. How could they improve their productivity?To that end, I was asked by the APTi board of directors to kick-off our meeting with atwo hour teambuilding session using the new Klein Group Instrument (KGI). As APTi’sFinance Director and a qualified KGI facilitator, I have a personal interest in seeing theAPTi Board perform at the highest level of effectiveness and was confident thatdedicating a few hours to the new Klein Group Instrument would enable us to do justthat.The KGI is a new assessment tool that provides practical and actionable insights intogroup behavior for individuals within a group and, through an optional Group Profile,insights about the group itself. The tool measures how often we use each of the nineelements of group success as determined by the KGI’s developer, Robert Klein. [seesidebar Klein Group Instrument Scales and subscales].The KGI allows users to take the assessment from the perspective of a particular groupthey are part of. This means that a user may have KGI results for multiple groups witheach result indicating the different behaviors an individual uses in each group theyparticipate in. The assessment provides easily implementable suggestions to helpindividuals expand and refine their small group skills.A typical introductory session might be four to eight hours. However, I was able to relyon the group’s considerable facilitation skills and familiarity with assessments to provideus with actionable insights within a shortened time frame at both an individual level andteam level. The group strongly affirmed that the session was very successful and that wehad a new framework through which we could manage ourselves and our team processesbetter.Individual InsightsI began the session with a brief background of the KGI, a description of the model, anddefinitions of terminology since it uses common words, e.g. leadership, initiative, inspecific ways. Then each participant read through and validated their individual reportsand discussed the results with a partner. The basic measurements are how frequently oneuses each of nine group skills. It was clear from the very animated discussions thateverybody was quite engaged by the assessment.While there were many unique “a-ha” moments, a couple of themes emerged. One themewas people affirming how different they function on the board than they do in othergroups. One person who fit this theme was Karla Edwards, the newly appointed interimDirector of Training, who had previously been through a KGI workshop as part of awork-related teambuilding session. Her prior results were reflective of her preferredgroup behaviors in a job that requires more interpersonal focus as opposed to task focus.This time, however, her higher scores on Task Analysis were indicative of the need to
determine what is needed in a new role. Her individual KGI report contained suggestionsfor ways to expand her influence on the team in that area.Another theme was people like Past President Jane Kise, who were functioning in thisgroup not only in ways different from other groups but in ways outside of herpsychological type preferences. Jane said that the KGI identified the source of the stressshe felt in her role as leader of this particular group which required her to demonstratemore Assertiveness and less Interpersonal Focus. In other words, she said that she had tooperate outside of her INFJ preferences by acting more Extraverted in managing thegroup and less Feeling in her decision making.A common theme for all was finding suggestions for improvement in areas that ourprofiles indicated we found challenging. For example, my low score on Initiativeaccurately reflects my tendency to be quite reserved in the early stages of a discussion. Iam far more comfortable speaking up only after I’ve had time to analyze what others aresaying. This fits my top strength of Perspective Taking which is the ability to understandother’s positions or concerns. I determined that I could be more effective in the group bysometimes allowing others to take a perspective on my thoughts earlier in the processrather than always commenting on theirs.Group InsightsWe used the KGI Group Profile to provide us with composite scores of the board, rangesof individual scores on each of the nine subscales and to identify our team strengths andchallenges. The Group Profile also made suggestions for how we could improve ourgroup processes and performance.What we saw about ourselves was only surprising because of how definitive and accuratethe results were. [see sidebar Enablers/Inhibitors] As a group, we have a great deal ofenergy for generating ideas. However, we have much less energy for creating processesand accountability for selecting specific ideas to implement and bringing those ideas toclosure. While this could have been inferred from a group type table, these behaviorswere more directly stated by the KGI in terms of specific aspects of group strengths andchallenges. Less type-related but also clear from the Group Profile was that there werefew individuals on the team who frequently took the initiative to shift the group fromideation to implementation.In order use these insights to remove its inhibitors to effectiveness, the group participatedin an exercise that played to its strengths. On flipcharts, the group brainstormed answersto two questions: How can we coordinate tasks with each other in a more effective way? How can we support each other more as a team AND still make difficult decisions?Not only were the suggestions contained in the KGI Group Profile helpful to us as a teambut each board member was able to go back to their own Individual Profile to findspecific suggestions of how they can manage themselves to bring better balance to thegroups strengths.
The Impetus to ChangeA concrete outcome for our session was that Suzanne Brue, Jane Kise and Jennifer Selby-Long, APTi’s current president, past president and president-elect, respectively, reviewedthe list of flip chart items and proposed a set of actions to help the board coordinate tasksmore effectively and support an improved decision-making process. Two broad themesthat came out of the KGI process was that we had to better manage idea generation sothat we focus more directly on what could actually be accomplished with the time andresources available; and anyone in the group could exercise leadership by calling foraction, i.e. asking or being more specific about the action being proposed, what thedeadline is and who is responsible. This is not innovative thinking to be sure, but it is aconstant reminder to be consciously balancing our processes and not revert into strong,comfortable and energizing patterns of behavior that actually inhibit our effectiveness.The group started putting these suggestions into practice immediately and continued to doso through the weekend. Several board members told me that it was one of the mosteffective meetings they had ever been a part of. A recent monthly teleconference was noless successful as the board continued to operate at improved levels of effectivenessdriven by the individual and group KGI insights.On behalf of the APTi Board of Directors, I’d like to thank Bob Klein for his sharing hisknowledge prior to the meeting on how he goes about analyzing the Group Profile; andfor his time debriefing Katherine Hirsh and myself on the outcomes from using theinstrument. I’d also like to thank CAPT for giving us both individual and group levelreports. Finally, I’d like to thank the APTI board for allowing to me to facilitate thesession with them, for their high level of energy and engagement during the KGI sessionand for applying what we learned throughout the weekend. I am confident we are betteras a team and hopefully better as team members because of this wonderful newassessment tool.
Sidebar: Klein Group Instrument Scales and subscalesLeadership - Assertiveness - Group Facilitation - InitiativeNegotiation Orientation - Constructive Negotiation Approach - Perspective TakingTask Focus - Task Analysis - Task ImplementationInterpersonal Focus - Positive Group Affiliation - Feeling OrientationSidebar: APTi Board Enablers/InhibitorsEnablers - Constructive Negotiation Approach - Perspective Taking - AssertivenessInhibitors - Initiative - Feeling Orientation - Group Facilitation.