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"How's Your Team's Spirit?"
Matt M. Starcevich, Ph.D.

(For individual use only, not to be reproduced or used in any way without permission)
About the Quiz.

A hidden and often undiscussed element of effective teamwork is the mood, or climate, that exists within the team. A productive atmosphere doesn't just happen, it requires conscious work. The following quiz is a start to understanding, and perhaps improving, the atmosphere that exists within your team.


Take the quiz without looking at the answers, but when you are reviewing the anwers, the questions and answers are "linked" so that you can easily move back and forth between them. When you've totaled your scores, find out how to interpret the score.

How's Your Team Spirit?

1. The team leader has just made an impassioned plea to improve the level of cooperation that exists within the group. As the discussion develops you note:

A. All team members really seem concerned with helping each other, and working as a team
B. The majority of the team members are in favor of improving teamwork
C. The team members are split-half are in favor of improving teamwork; half would rather operate independently
D. The majority of the team members want to continue to operate independently
E. Everyone is pulling in opposite direction, competing, and looking out for themselves

2. Which of the following statements best describes the level of risk taking, innovation, imagination, and initiative by members of the group:

A. Beware, we shoot the messenger
B. Nothing ventured, nothing gained-go for it
C. Don't rock the boat, if it's not broke don't fix it
D. Some team members seem more comfortable with risk taking and change than others
E. Conservative

3. Describe the level of communication between team members:

A. In this team people are afraid to speak up and we do not listen to each other
B. Quite a few of the team members withhold their thoughts and don't listen to others
C. Some team members speak up and listen while others do not
D. Everybody speaks up, but not all team members listen
E. Everybody accurately states their view and others listen and understand what is being said-we talk together

4. Mary, a senior member of the team, and Jose, a junior member of the team, are on opposite sides of an important issue. Both of their positions have merit. You notice that as Mary and Jose present their arguments, other team members:

A. Seem to be harsher in the criticisms of Jose's arguments
B. Are objective, and attentive to both arguments-the team values differences
C. Favor Mary slightly over Jose
D. Don't pay much attention to either viewpoint
E. Only listen to Mary's and discount or ignore Jose's viewpoints

5. The team gathers for the monthly progress and problem report about reaching individual and departmental objectives. Describe the meeting:

A. There is an open and realistic sharing of both progress and problems
B. Only a few team members seem to be concerned about the impact of their presentation; they attempt to build allies within the team
C. Some team members seem to be playing the political game, while others do not
D. One clique exists within this team and their presentations sound about the same-politically safe
E. Cliques, political maneuvering, deception, and infighting are the name of the game in this team

6. Your team is involved in the annual planning, budgeting and strategy setting meeting. During the critique period:

A. The entire team restrains their remarks; we avoid "rocking the boat"
B. Most of the team members restrain and filter their critical remarks
C. About half of the team is unrestrained and the other half restrained
D. Most of the team members are unrestrained in their analysis and critique
E. Conflicts and differences are openly discussed as an aid to problem solving

7. Your team is faced with making a decision on a very controversial and emotionally charged issue. The leader has asked for each individual to express his/her views. The first thought that comes to your mind is:

A. It is safe to express your true feelings without fear of reprisal
B. A person would be a fool to be himself in this team-don't be vulnerable
C. How open you are depends on the issue and people around you at the time
D. In the majority of cases it is best not to let your true feelings or self show
E. In the majority of cases it is safe to express your true feelings

8. One of your team members has asked for some time on the meeting agenda to seek the help and cooperation of other team members on his/her assignment. During the ensuring team discussion you feel that:

A. Every team member is hiding their real motives and feelings
B. The majority of the team members are hiding their needs, expectations, and goals.
C. Some team members are posturing to advance their hidden agendas
D. The majority of the team members are being honest about their needs and expectations
E. All team members are open about their real motives and feelings; we communicate honestly

9. All the supervisors in your department meet annually to rank the employees for salary treatment and promotional potential. You feel the discussion can best be described as:

A. Conducted in a supportive atmosphere where team members can openly express their viewpoints and are listened to
B. The atmosphere and discussion is more supportive than not
C. About average in the level of supportiveness team members exhibit toward one another
D. The willingness to express opinions, venture new or different ideas and listening could be improved
E. Full of criticism, placing blame, belittling and caution

10. Your manager has just asked every member of the team to independently study and submit a detailed plan for implementing a total Employee Involvement/Quality program in their area of responsibility. In subsequent conversations with other team members, the feeling is:

A. The manager is not to be trusted, there is a hidden agenda behind all of this
B. Team members are suspicious but are reluctantly cooperating with the manager's request
C. You have to deal with this manager on a case by case basis, wait and see is the best policy
D. The manager can be trusted in the majority of cases, on a few occasions his/her motives could be questioned
E. Cooperating fully with the manager's request is easy because you can count on him/her to keep the best interests, both of the individual and team, in mind



Question 1

A=10, B=8, C=6, D=4, E=2

A "we-ness" exists in the team. Members work toward a common, understood goal and are willing to subordinate their need for "I" time. Gains are thought of as team gains and the competition is not between team members.

Question 2

A=4, B=10, C=2, D=9, E=6

Team members feel free to experiment and take risks. Failures are seen as an opportunity to learn and grow, not as a forum for placing blame. A self-managing team has a norm of individual responsibility and initiative. Team members appreciate that good "followership" involves taking the responsibility and initiative to influence other team members and the teams direction.

Question 3

A=2, B=4, C=6, D=8, E=10

A positive team atmosphere can be summed up in one phrase: open two-way communications. Members feel free to share feelings with others because they know they will be heard and considered.

Question 4

A=6, B=10, C=8, D=2, E=4

Each team member is seen as having a value to the team. As a result, people do not have to compete for air time. The attitude exists that we need to seriously consider everyone's opinions and views. Even those who are not the top performer are given time to express their views and the opportunity to influence the team.

Question 5

A=10, B=8, C=6, D=4, E=2

When trust is lacking, cliques and political maneuvering help members protect themselves from other team members. Infighting and deception, instead of cooperation, are the acceptable behaviors.

Question 6

A=2, B=4, C=6, D=8, E=10

Conflicts and differences of opinions are suppressed under the guise of, "if you can't say anything constructive, don't say anything at all". Contrast this to a positive team atmosphere where conflicts and differences are openly discussed, not with the aim of declaring a winner or looser but to benefit the communication and problem solving process in the team. Effective teams do not shy away from conflict, they use it to their advantage.

Question 7

A=10, B=2, C=6, D= 4, E=8

In an untrusting, non-supportive environment, members feel they have to put up a facade because to let people know who they really are would result in them being vulnerable and hurt. In a positive team atmosphere, differences between people are seen as strengths, not weaknesses. These differences need to be understood and accepted as assets for better team performance.

Question 8

A=2, B=4, C=6, D=8, E=10

Hidden agenda and posturing are the rules in a team that has a poor atmosphere. Honest discussion of needs, expectations, and goals leads to teamwork.

Question 9

A=10, B=8, C=6, D=4, E=2

A supportive atmosphere is typified by a willingness to take risks, express opinions, and venture new or different ideas. Team members feel they will be listened to and not be belittled for openly expressing their viewpoints. Criticism and placing blame are not part of an effective team's atmosphere.

Question 10

A=2, B=4, C=6, D=8, E=10

Trust is the foundation for a high quality team atmosphere. Without it, only superficial teamwork is present. Members are more concerned with issues of power, authority, competition for attention, and political maneuvering rather than working together as a team. Some teams never develop the trust to operate beyond the level of committee or task force groups.

Your Score

80-100-Your team's atmosphere is healthy and conducive to achieving great results. The team can spend their time productively establishing goals, procedures, processes, and clarifying team members roles, i.e. performing the work of the team. Since atmosphere can change, it is advised that you periodically test the temperature to see if issues or concerns that are inhibiting the maintenance of this productive atmosphere are being openly discussed and dealt with.

60-79-On the surface, your team is healthy and productive. There are, however, a few areas below the surface that keep this team from living up to its potential. With time these areas will fester and become debilitating problems. Now is the time to bring these into the open and work with your team to establish how these can be improved.

Below 60-You are a group of people not a team. Individuality reigns, and there is very little sense of togetherness. This could be because you are a new team, or one that has never openly and candidly discussed how you work, or don't work together as a team. A more formal approach to team building can help your group get over this stage in their development. Ignoring the problems will not make them go away. To become an effective team will require a pro-active approach from both the team leader and members.

About the Quiz

This Quiz was originally published in Spirit, the magazine of Southwest Airlines, August, 1990. It was developed by Matt M. Starcevich, Ph.D., CEO, the Center for Coaching & Mentoring, Inc., a firm devoted to training and consultation in Team Work, Coaching, Leadership, and Mentoring,  Co-author of Teamwork: We Have Met The Enemy and They Are Us and, The Coach: Creating Partnerships for a Competitive Edge. For more information call (918) 333-6609

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