360-Degree Feedback to Build Team Players

How do you build team players? Is “team play” something that people are born with, or is it a learned behavior? How do we create it in this Millennial age, when our youngest employees have grown up hearing that ‘everyone is a winner’, even though in business there are winners and losers?

I recently read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. At one point he talks about a feedback system that helped the students in his “Building Virtual Worlds” class at Carnegie Mellon University learn how to operate effectively in teams. It occurred to me that this might work for creative, account, and perhaps even new business teams.

Here’s how he did it:

First, he created four-person teams. Each person was dependent on the work of the other three members of the team, and their grades reflected it.

Next, he would ask each team member to evaluate the other three members of the team three different ways:

  1. How hard did this person work? Exactly how many hours do you think this person devoted to the project?
  2. How creative was his contribution?
  3. Was he easy or difficult to work with? Was he a team player?

There were five projects each semester, so each student ended up with 15 data points. He always found the answer to number three the most compelling:

What your peers think is, by definition, an accurate assessment of how easy you are to work with.

Randy then stack-ranked the results in a horizontal bar chart showing each student’s scores. The results were hard to ignore.

He also asked for free-form suggestions for improvement for each student. When coupled with the chart, each student had numerous examples of their behavior in action, with suggestions on how to perform better in a team.

How might such a simple system work within your creative department? Account service teams? New business or pitch teams?


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