Learn This Efficient Model for Building High Performing Teams

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No matter what industry you work in, productive and efficient teams are a must for success. Yet it’s not always easy to create and maintain a well-oiled team. That’s why I love the Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model—it provides a simple, step-by-step framework for understanding team development.

If you didn’t read my first post on the Drexler-Sibbet (DS) model, start here. There are seven steps in the framework; this post covers steps four through seven. You can also learn how the DS model can be used as a diagnostic tool, and as a way to build teams from scratch. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.

Basic Structure of the DS Model

For a quick review, here are the seven sequential steps of the DS model:

  1. Orientation
  2. Trust Building
  3. Goal Clarification
  4. Commitment
  5. Implementation
  6. High Performance
  7. Renewal

Each step has:

  • A question in the circle, which is the question someone on the team is likely to ask.
  • Resolved and Unresolved Traits on either side of the circle. If the resolved traits are demonstrated by the team, then the team can move to the next step. If the unresolved traits are demonstrated, it’s not yet time to move to the next step.
  • Arrows that point to other steps. If a team is facing challenges on a certain step, the arrows will tell the team which step to move to. For example, if a team is challenged on step 4, they would go back to step 3. However, if a team is challenged on step 5, they would go back to step 3, because the arrow from step 5 points to step 3.

Today, we will be looking specifically at steps four (commitment) to seven (renewal). This will round out your understanding of the DS model and enable you to successfully put it into effect for your new or existing teams.

The following graphic can be used for reference, to see the basic model and structure of the DS model. (Zoom in for details or read below.)



Commitment – How will we do it?

When goals are clear, your team is probably eager to act. Attention moves to step 4 and the question, “How will we do it?”. In other words, how committed are we to reaching the specific goal? There are two things that build someone’s commitment: their role and the decision making process. So let’s look at those two aspects:


When someone is crystal clear on their role, they know what to do and their level of authority to take action. Yet how many times do we hear team members say, “I thought you were doing that.” or “I thought my job is just to do this”. This uncertainty creates confusion, frustration and wasted time. So get specific about who is doing what for each task; if the task is complex, break it into smaller roles.

You may have considered roles during stage three planning, but now need to commit to what the function, authority, and responsibilities will be in practice. Role definitions have to be complete enough to cover all the tasks that must be done to accomplish your team goals while also minimizing overlaps and role conflicts. A big part of a team lead’s job is to help match goals to competencies, and help people step into roles that will develop their abilities and improve results for the team.


Who makes what decision is vital to creating individual and team commitment. For example, let’s say you ask me to do some research for the team. I’m excited and spend time researching, writing my recommendations and prepping my briefing. Yet during the meeting, you cut me off and say you’ll review my information and make the final decision, which irritates me and causes me to grumble, “I’m not doing that again.” Why? Because I thought I was going to have a say in the decision making process.

So be clear on the decision making process for each key decision. Will it be a democracy, with equal votes? A consensus? A dictatorship? While the team member may not agree with the decision making process, she at least understands the process ahead of time.

Tool: RACI- Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed

One tool to do this is called RACI, which stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed in the below chart.

High Performing Teams

To use RACI, match RACI with the tasks before the team starts executing on the tasks, as in the below diagram. This will help everyone clearly know their roles up front.

High Performing Teams

Step 4 represents the turn of the Drexler-Sibbet model. Remember that the initial stages of team performance involve a good bit of trial-and-error. Embracing these questions might require backtracking to goals, investing more in trust development, and revisiting initial purpose before you can fully resolve commitment issues.

How do you know when Commitment challenges are resolved? You will see:
  • Assigned roles
  • Clear integrated goals
  • Shared vision
How do you know when the team is blocked at Commitment? You will see:
  • Dependence
  • Resistance


Implementation – Who does what, when, where?

High Performing Teams

Conflicts and confusion arise when there is commitment but no clear way forward. A good tip to remember at this stage is the “5 W’s”: Who, what, where, when, why (and how):

  • Who will do it?
  • What will they specifically do?
  • Where will it be done?
  • When will it be done?
  • Why is the work being done in this sequence?
  • How will we evaluate the quality of the work?

Implementation involves scheduling and sequencing work over time. A visible schedule (e.g. a chart), strategy, and / or process liberates the team to move into action confidently. So spend time specifically answering the above question before the team moves to action.

How do you know when Implementation challenges are resolved? You will see:
  • Clear processes
  • Alignment
  • Disciplined execution
How do you know when the team is blocked at Implementation? You will see:
  • Conflict
  • Non-alignment
  • Missed deadlines


High Performance – WOW!

High Performing Teams

High performance is a WOW state, as a team masters its processes and begins to experience the ability to change goals, as well as achieve them. You can feel when it happens and observe its effects as teams achieve a flow state when trust is high and people have mastered their roles. In a state of high performance, boundaries and individual limits soften, everything moves together, and everyone responds as if they are part of the whole. The indicators of that having happened are spontaneous interaction, synergy, and a team that is surpassing their expectation on results. WOW symbolizes how high performance teams transcend rational processes by working with all the human faculties – spirit, soul, mind, and body.

How do you know when High Performance challenges are resolved? You will see:
  • Spontaneous interaction
  • Synergy
  • Surpassing results
How do you know when the team is blocked at High Performance? You will see:
  • Overload
  • Disharmony


Renewal – Why continue?

High Performing Teams

Over time the conditions that initially set your team in motion will change. High performance is demanding. Don’t be surprised if people ask, “Why continue?” This key question reminds us that team performance is an ongoing process, and must be renewed by returning to Stage 1 and reassessing if the work is still needed, worthwhile, and has some personal value and meaning.

Tool: AAR- The After Action Review

One tool to use in this step is the After Action Review, or AAR, which addresses four key questions:

  • What were our intended results?
  • What were our actual results?
  • What caused our results?
  • And what will we sustain or improve?

Of course, other questions can be asked during an AAR. Here are sample ground rules for an AAR meeting:

  • Active participation: it is important for everyone to participate since everyone’s views have equal value
  • No blame
  • There are no right or wrong answers
  • Be open to new ideas
  • Be creative in proposing solutions to barriers
  • Use “Yes….and” rather than “either/or” thinking
  • Consensus where possible, clarification where not
  • Commitment to identifying opportunities for improvement and recommending possible improvement approaches
  • No record of the discussion will be distributed without the agreement of all participants
  • Quotes will not be attributed to individuals without permission

To close the AAR session, summarize key points identified during the discussion. The session should end on a positive note, linking observations to recommendations for future improvements. Let the team know what the plans are for reporting and sharing the lessons learned during the AAR.

Whether or not you do the AAR as listed above, spending time on renewal puts your team back in touch with purpose and refreshes everyone’s commitment to keep going. It also includes learning from what you have accomplished, and building a repertoire of best practices for the next journey on this or other teams. If your team’s work is complete, Renewal is the time to wrap things up, freeing members to move on to new challenges.

How do you know when Renewal challenges are resolved? You will see:
  • Recognition
  • Change mastery
  • Staying power
How do you know when the team is blocked at Renewal? You will see:
  • Boredom
  • Burnout

If you reach stage seven and your team is blocked, it’s time to head back to stage one!

There you have it—the Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model. Don’t forget to learn about steps one through three on my previous post, before giving it a spin. If you do try it out, I’d love to hear about it! Send me an email, find me on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

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