How to Figure Out Where Your Team is Stuck

How to Figure Out Where Your Team is Stuck
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

Clarity is the Holy Grail of teams. 


In my experience with organizations, lack of clarity around roles, priorities, challenges, and expectations is the number one culprit for unhealthy and unproductive teams.

Getting everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction requires intentional, curated conversations.

But before you can talk about where you need to go, you need to figure out where you are.

Adjustment begins with assessment.

Here is a simple tool I use frequently with teams to assess where they are, so they can agree on where they need to go.  I call it the Assessment Grid

First, identify and declare the scope of what you are trying to assess.  Are you reviewing a campaign, a project launch, an event you just held?  Are you taking a look at how your team is functioning (this is a great focus for an offsite retreat). Or are you failing to move forward and you just can’t identify why?

Next, draw this grid on a whiteboard or butcher paper:

Assessment Grid

Then, give everyone a pile of sticky notes (I like to break larger teams into groups of three to generate interaction, but for smaller teams, have everyone do this individually).  Give them 10 minutes to populate this grid with sticky notes, putting one item/response per note, and placing it on the grid in these categories:

What is WORKING? What is going right? What do you need to celebrate?  What do you need to not change, but keep doing well and optimize?  The goal is that all sticky notes would move to this box.

What is BROKEN?  What is not working?  What is causing pain or problems? What would you not do again?  What needs to change or be eliminated?

What is CONFUSING? Where are people confused? What is happening that you do not understand what?  Where is the next step unclear?

What is MISSING?  What things would you like to see happening that are not?  What needs to be added?  Where are you missing opportunities?  N.B.  Confusing means it is unclear; missing means it just isn’t there at all.


BTW, if a person or breakout team is struggling to put a note in a box, it is fine to straddle a line.  For example, “This is working and it is also confusing.”  I find that these “straddle notes”: actually generate great conversation.

Once the board is populated, have the facilitator consolidate responses, asking for clarity from the people who posted the notes.

When you are done, you should have a clearer picture of where you are stuck.  Remember, the goal is to move everything up and to the left, into the WORKING box.  If you have a number of items in the other boxes, have a discussion around prioritizing them and moving towards an action plan.

If you are looking for a great place to start assessing your organization, check out the Six Questions Every Organization Should Be Able To Answer.  

Thomas helps leaders and teams navigate what’s next.  If he can serve you in this, reach out to him here

Photo by Brie Odom-Mabey on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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