Developing a Team Performance Assessment

There are many choices in customized and ‘off the rack’ team assessments. The 4-D system by Charles Pellerin is very well-supported and well researched. There is a simple 25 question assessment in ‘Games Teams Play’ by Lisa Bendaly (McGraw-Hill Ryerson). The Internet provides many free assessment tools (e.g., Mind Tools, Team effectiveness assessment). Most are based on team members’ self assessments and scoring of a number of team attributes. In this era of metrics, you may wish to find statistically robust measurement tools.

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However, I personally think that there is also value in teams developing their own self-assessment tool through a carefully guided process that includes going through an exercise to define what a great team and great teamwork mean to them. They can then develop a descriptive list of key behaviours that relate to such areas as trust, communications, responsibility, etc. and a scale for scoring.

Regardless of the tool you use, a single assessment yields only a snap shot taken at a moment in time. To get real value, report results promptly to team members, debrief and discuss them, create action plans and provide workshops on key areas for improvement. Repeat the assessment to measure progress and, once again, report the results. People need to know they are making progress, and so does your organization.

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Vinson Expedition-Nov 14

vinson2-300x199Puntas Arenas -November 14
At 6am I was just starting to stir from a pretty good night’s sleep when I heard the jiggling of a key in a door. At first I thought it was in a dream, then I realized it was not a dream. I thought it must be coming from one of the other rooms, but then realized it was too loud and it must be my room. I was about to get an unexpected visitor. Suddenly the door swung open and in walked Ron. I was not expecting him until 8:30 or later, but I guess his flights had gone smoothly and he got into Punta Arenas earlier than expected.

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Everest in 2008 and it was good to see him. We chatted for about an hour catching up until the people in the next room started to pound on the wall. Apparently the walls are paper thin and they were not real excited to listen to us chat at 6am. I suggested to Ron that perhaps he should lie down and get some rest and he responded that he was too wound up to sleep. Five minutes later he was out like a light.

I however, could not fall back asleep and read for a while and wrote my blog. I then made my way downstairs for breakfast. Our hotel is $87 a night and includes breakfast. It is not the fanciest or cleanest of places, but it does the job.

Breakfast was a selection of eggs, toast, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and crepes. Just as I sat down Ryan walked in and joined me. We ate and chatted for a while and then Ron came down to join us after a 2 hour nap.

We walked over to Ryan’s hotel to look at the maps and to discuss packing logistics and safety protocol on the mountain. At 11:00 Ryan went to a meeting at ALE (Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions). They will provide out flight and all the logistics for our trip.

We met Ryan for lunch at Lomito’s and reviewed the locations of the safety stashes of equipment at the various camps. We also went through the Antarctica environmental police.

Antarctica is a very clean place and the managing countries have imposed strict policies to keep it that way. Everything that goes in also comes out. All trash must be removed and severe fines are handed out if anyone is caught ditching garbage. Each person is supplied with three waste bags for solid human waste. All urine and grey water is contained to specific deposit locations at the various camps. This is the only place it is allowed. If you have to go pee as you are climbing the route you are required to use your pee bottle and dump it at the specified location at the camp. Ryan said that at the South Pole even urine is removed once it is frozen.

After lunch, Ron and I spent some time packing and then Ryan came over with the ski skins which we fitted to our skis. These will be used to give us traction as we pull our sleds and for skiing up hill. As I was putting the skins on my skis I realized that I had not removed the coating of wax I had put on before I left home. I tuned and waxed 10 pair of skis before I left and in all the business I obviously missed this final important stage with my expedition skis. So I took out my Air Canada member card and proceeded to scrape all the wax off. Although this was not the perfect tool for the job it worked just fine.

After some packing time Ron and I wandered around town for a while checking out the tourist shops and looking for post cards. Punta Arenas has many of the old world Spanish features like the ornate Spanish colonial buildings and the large park areas and the main square in the middle of town. The town seems to be fairly prosperous, but there is a big gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. There are a few obviously poor street people, but most seem to be doing ok. There are, however, quite a few very large homes and many BMW’s and Mercedes Benz’s driving the streets.

Stray, but friendly, dogs roam the streets in small packs and play in the parks. The temperature was 11c most of the day and we had off and on rain. The wind seems to be pretty constant with the only real change being how strong it is blowing.

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and it was quite good. La Luna is a step up from Lomito’s in quality and price. Every patron was a tourist and most seemed to be of the wealthier kind. There is quite a mix of people in town from climbers, and skiers, and hikers, and bird watchers and cruise liners. Ryan and I had steak and fries and Ron had seafood pasta. It was all quite good, but not in our price bracket for every meal. We will hunt for a pizza joint for tomorrow’s dinner I think.

I am back in the hotel now and about to go off to bed. Tomorrow morning we go to a meeting at ALE. Everyone who is waiting to fly out is required to go to this meeting to review baggage logistics, flight logistics, safety regulations, and environmental regulations.

Several groups have been waiting for 10-14 days to fly out as all flights have been cancelled due to bad weather in Antarctica. There appears to be a clear spell moving in and we hope to fly out Thursday or Friday of this week. That will put us 1-2 days behind, but at least we are not 2 weeks behind like some of the south pole people currently are.

Summit Life! Scott out.

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Packing for Mount Vinson

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 Well it is one day before I depart for Antarctica. It has been a bit of a whirlwind the past few weeks with little time to prepare or even think about this trip. We have been extremely busy delivering training and team building programs and I have delivered quite a few keynotes across Canada. I want to acknowledge my great team of Dave, Claudia, Mary, Alecia, Colin and Susan who have done an amazing job and who will keep things running while I am away. Since I am madly packing today I thought I would share with you what one takes on an Antarctic expedition. Obviously it will be cold and remote so I need warm clothing that will keep me safe. Since we will be skiing and climbing I will be taking more than usual on this trip. Temperatures will range from -10c on a warm day to -30c if a storm blows in. We will have 24 hour daylight which, as I learned on Denali, can be a blessing and a curse. Starting from my feet up I will have my Atomic backcountry skis which accompanied my up Mount Logan (Canada’s highest peak) and on many a back country trip in the Rockies. My Millet 8000m boots kept me warm on Everest and should be perfect in Antarctica as well. Although they will not be the best ski boot I have ever used. I will take a pair of down booties for around camp as well as 4 pair of heavy wool socks and 4 pair of light liner socks. We will also be using vapour barriers in our boots to keep the perspiration from our feet from getting into our boots. I will have light weight and expedition weight long underwear bottoms as well as Sherpa softshell pants, my gore-tex pants and insulate outer pants.

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two mid weight Sherpa tops, one expedition weight Sherpa expedition top, my trusty vest that has been on every trip with me since 2000, my Sherpa down sweater, my Sherpa outer shell jacket, and my big expedition parka. I am taking two fleece hats as well as a sun hat, balaclava, face mask, goggles, and glacier glasses. For my hands I have two pair of liner gloves, a pair of soft shell gloves, my favourite climbing gloves and a pair of down mitts in case it gets really cold. I will have my harness, my ice axe, crampons, various pieces of climbing gear, my Ostrom Pack that went up Everest with me, my Nikon D90 camera, snack food, two insulated water bottles, a thermos, cup, bowl and spoon, journal, MP3 player, and a book. For sleeping I will have my -40 sleeping bag, a therm-a-rest, and a foam pad. There will be three of us packed into one tent so I don’t think I will get cold while sleeping. We will buy some fresh food in Punta Arenas, but mostly we will survive on freeze dried meals. I will take plenty of my Adult Essentials vitamins with me to provide what the packaged food does not. As a group we will also have our tent, all our food, a bunch of sleds to pull our gear, ropes, and a satellite phone to keep in touch with the outside world. There will be other odds and sods but this is the majority of it. We have a fixed amount of weight that we can take on the plane to Antarctica so we will go with only the essentials. I depart on Saturday and fly to Punta Arenas where we will spend a few days prepping and buying some food. Our flight provider requires we be in town two days before our scheduled flight on November 16th or they will bump us off the flight. They don’t fool around down there. Once in Antarctica we will take a second flight to the Mountain where we will spend 10-12 days climbing. We will then ski the 160km back to the Union Glacier ice runway for our flight back to Punta Arenas. If all goes as planned I should be back in Canada on December 11th. Please check out www.lifescinutritionals.com, www.iron-kids.com, www.sherpaadventuregear.com, and www.ostromoutdoors.com, as they have been great supporters of my adventures throughout the years. Summit Life! – Scott.

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