Are Your Teams Working?

By Kevin McManus, Chief Excellence Officer and Systems Guy, Great Systems

Would you like to make your teams more effective?


Has your organization experimented with teams, only to be disappointed by the team effectiveness results they returned? Would you like to optimize the output of your existing formal problem solving teams, kaizen teams, or work teams? Have you thought about starting up formal teams, or moving your work teams towards self direction, but want to avoid wasting time and money?

Implementing and maintaining a formal team process can be expensive, both in terms of the hard dollars required and in terms of the impact such a system’s success or failure will have on the organization’s culture. Many organizations don’t consider these costs when they attempt to start formal teams. Even when they do consider them, they often grossly underestimate the resources required to make the process effective and obtain the types of payback they want. Unfortunately, formal teams are both a prerequisite for high employee engagement levels and a meaningful pursuit of process excellence.

Why aren’t your teams getting better results?

At least one work / process team already exists in any organization, unless all employees work in a non-interactive, isolated vacuum. Most organizations have several process teams, but their level of self-direction is usually low. It is also likely that their daily efforts are not aligned and focused on the goals of the company. In turn, many man-hours are spent each day delivering less than optimum performance. Management teams are often among the worst offenders when it comes to ineffective process, project, or focus teams.

In general, teams are ineffective because they are not properly supported. The concepts and tools that are described in this workbook will allow you to balance your desired results against the degree of investment (support) you are willing to make, and in turn help you make all of your teams more effective. Its use will also help you build teams into your work systems, instead of them existing as some sort of program out in isolation. Team participation should not be seen as something that people get to be a part of only one hour out of forty each week.

DISCOVER MORE: Could You Improve Your Team Use?

How can this workbook help make your teams more effective?

The concepts and tools in the “Are Your Teams Working?” workbook focus on how to (1) create operational definitions for different team types, (2) identify the specific investments required to effectively implement and sustain team infrastructures, (3) define performance scorecards for teams, and (4) balance these expected results with the investment commitments you are willing to make. By using the tools to apply the concepts, you can discover new ways to get the most out of your process, project, or focus teams for the investment you are making, while also ensuring that team involvement is a fun experience. By reading this workbook and working through its exercises, the following learning objectives will be satisfied, as one will become better able to:

  • Identify the types of teams you currently have and need
  • Assess team effectiveness barriers and their potential impact
  • Identify specific investment requirements for supporting the team infrastructure you design
  • Create an action plan for implementing or improving an employee involvement system

How do you know this stuff really works?

This workbook is the product of my thirty five plus years of experience with hundreds of different teams. Many of the tools contained in it were born out of frustration. I have seen both problem solving and work teams do marvelous things. I have seen them have sustained success over several years. I have also seen effective team programs die from lack of support, and I have witnessed the frustration of front line employees and managers alike who want to improve their company through teamwork, but aren’t given the chance.

You see, I operate from the perspective that all companies, both large and small, have teams (unless they have employees who never talk to anyone else as they do their daily jobs). My perspective also is a bit cynical in the sense that I feel that most teams in existence are far less effective than they could be. Unless your employees work in isolation, they depend on others to get their job done each day. I have seen the successes that true self-directed work teams and effective project teams experience. I have trained many team leaders, served as a leader and facilitator myself, and helped teams save millions of dollars each year. This stuff works, but only if teams are properly trained and supported.

Keep improving! Kevin McManus, Chief Excellence Officer and Systems Guy, Great Systems

Would you like to order the “Are Your Teams Working?” team effectiveness workbook?

To order this workbook by credit card from, simply click here.

To order other Great Systems! workbooks via credit card, visit  After I receive notification of your order, your workbook order will be sent to you via USPS Priority Mail (2-3 day delivery).

Would you be interested in my onsite “Are Your Teams Working? ” team effectiveness workshop?

Would you like to see how this course is taught by the developer before you try to teach it yourself? Would you like to have a team of your people work together in a workshop facilitated by this product’s creator? If so, consider holding a “Are Your Teams Working?” workshop for your company. For a 15 person group, the total cost of this course is normally less than $200 per person!

If you would like more information about the improvement tools and systems I have to offer, please send me an e-mail at

Who created this book?

The “Are Your Teams Working – Keys to Team Effectiveness” book was designed by Kevin McManus, who has served as an industrial engineer, Production Manager, Plant Manager, and Director of Quality during his 38-year business career. He has facilitated over 500 performance improvement workshops, and he has been teaching the TapRooT® root cause analysis process internationally for fourteen years. Kevin is currently serving a three-year term on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award judges panel, and he has served as a national Examiner, Senior Examiner, or Alumni Examiner in 18 prior years. Kevin writes the monthly Performance Improvement column for Industrial and Systems Engineer magazine.

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