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Extraordinary Teams Inventory: More than Simply High-Performance? - HRDQ

Extraordinary Teams Inventory: More than Simply High-Performance?

By Kevin Coray, Ph.D. (Extraordinary Teams Inventory Co-Author) 

Life is too short to spend on ordinary teams. HRDQ's team-based inventory, the Extraordinary Teams Inventory (ETI), can help you move your organization beyond high-performance to the rarified level of extraordinary. The ETI comes at team development from a perspective of what’s possible rather than what's wrong. 

An Effective, Thought Provoking Team-Based Assessment

People are hungry for work-related teams in which things flow; where: 

  • Contribution is valuable 
  • Purpose is inspiring 
  • They feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment 
  • They have useful and meaningful relationships with others on the team 
  • Conflict is an opportunity to resolve things in a safe and positive way 
  • They learn profound things about our work, about others, and ourselves

Extraordinary teams are more than merely high-performing teams. Extraordinary teams combine high-performance along with opportunities for transforming personal growth for team members. Research has shown that these teams achieve great results for the entire organization, while team members are themselves positively changed for the better. 

Wouldn’t we all like these experiences to be our typical experience in teams rather than the exception? That’s what it's like to work in an extraordinary team! To sustain this kind of extraordinary experience in a team, leaders and team members first need to learn: 

  • Where they stand on each of these elements
  • What the essential elements of extraordinary teams are
  • Their strengths and areas they wish to improve

That’s where the ETI comes in. Research with the ETI shows that most teams fall somewhere along a continuum from ordinary to solid, then extraordinary on the essential elements of extraordinary teams. This inventory and team member materials provide practical and easy-to-use information and advice. The ETI is part of an HRDQ suite of products and services and is a powerful tool for team development and personal transformation.

The inventory can be administered in a do it yourself manner using the Facilitator Guide and the Participant Workbook. Or HRDQ consultants and team coaches can work with you to design the right level of intervention, team building, or in-depth coaching that is right for your organization.

Understanding the Essential Elements of Extraordinary Teams

If you want to help your teams improve their productivity, culture, or dynamic, the  ETI can help you do it. Together the ETI, Facilitator Guide and Participant Workbook provide a proven training program that begins with how the team scores on an ordinary to an extraordinary continuum. 

We all want to work in an environment that resembles our best team experience. The research on extraordinary teams showed that such teams get amazing results, while the people in the groups were highly satisfied and personally transformed. The ETI measures five indicators or essential elements of extraordinary teams. These are:

  • Compelling purpose. In an extraordinary team, there exists an inspiring and shared under­standing of why the group comes together. An inspirational purpose sets the context for the team’s work. Since this purpose is shared, members understand everyones motivation to make the team’s work a high priority
  • Embracing difference. In an extraordinary team, members see, value, and engage their diverse backgrounds. Differences in education, culture, gender, race, perspective, learning style, personality, and upbringing are seen as assets helping a team fulfill its compelling purpose. Members respect one another for their unique perspectives and capabilities
  • Full engagement. In an extraordinary team, members enthusiastically participate in the team’s work. Energy and focus characterize team meetings. Because they have a sense of personal responsibility for the team’s success, they initiate action. Together, they work hard and intensely outside meetings when deadlines are near
  • Strengthened Relationships. In an extraordinary team, trust, respect, collegiality, and friendships grow among team members. People get to know each other better through working and taking risks together on behalf of their compel­ling purpose. Deeper bonds are created when members share things about their personal lives
  • Profound Learning. In an extraordinary team, learning exceeds expectations, reaching beyond the work of the team to members’ careers, communities, families, and friends. Members are often surprised by how much they learn from their team experience. This personal learning links directly to the transformational impact of participating in an extraordinary team

Numerous studies about team high-performance track to the essential elements of extraordinary teams. These include:

  • Gallup’s research on employee engagement has shown that only about a third of workers are fully engaged. Further, they have shown that fully engaged employees have lower absenteeism, lower turnover rates, and higher levels of customer loyalty, business growth, and productivity. In extraordinary teams, the whole team is fully engaged, which is a big part of why they achieve amazing results
  • Google showed that teams in which team members perceived a sense of psychological safety were far more productive. In extraordinary teams, two of the essential elements are highly related to psychological safety, namely embracing difference and strengthened relationships
  • Additional studies show mission strength, like that measured by the compelling purpose essential element in the ETI, is highly related to co-worker cooperation, climate for innovation, and work satisfaction. Extraordinary teams use their purpose to help guide their strategic decision making and are inspired by it in their day-to-day work

How the ETI Works

The ETI starts by having team members respond to 39 questions that take approximately 15 minutes to complete. The questions focus on the team, not the team leader or any individual member. Instead, they are about how team members collectively perceive the aspects of each of the five essential elements for the team as a whole. The team results are scored, and a team profile is produced with a total score and a score for each of the elements. This profile is the team’s result as compared to the norm base. Individuals are not identified, as only the team level result is produced. Here’s the overview page showing ETI results for a sample team...


ETI Page


Uses of the ETI

The Facilitator Guide helps us interpret the ETI results and explains how to intervene with the team to improve their results. The Participant Workbook supports the delivery of the program seamlessly. 

Extraordinary Teams Inventory

The Facilitator Guide offers a workshop outline that provides for team training, team building, or building the foundation for team coaching on the ETI. The workshop is a turnkey design for a four-hour workshop. And, it is easily scaled for a shorter debriefing on the ETI results or expanded to be used in a team retreat. The ETI materials provide a practical foundation for moving teams from ordinary disengaged, or dysfunctional to more solid or even high-performing teams. Plus, for already high-performing teams, it is possible to move them to an extraordinary level that the team members will remember as the highpoint of their career. 

From a team coaching perspective, it offers a variety of places to motivate a team to develop critical soft-skills topics, including communication, leadership, team building, and interpersonal skills.

The Results

After completing the program, participants will be able to: 

  • Discuss the elements that make up an extraordinary team
  • Discuss their team’s ETI profile
  • Describe team members’ perspectives about the team’s ability to reach outstanding results
  • Commit to individual or team actions that will increase the level of team extraordinariness

HRDQ Services Available for the ETI

Besides the ETI and the suite of materials described above, HRDQ can connect you with expert consultants and coaches from the Extraordinary Teams Partnership who will:

  • Work with you to help tailor your workshop to your team’s need as you prepare to deliver the workshop yourself
  • Be present on a team video conference to talk about the ETI results for the team and answer any questions they may have as a portion of your team training or team building
  • Conduct the workshop for you
  • Design and deliver an extraordinary team component for your next team retreat
  • Engage with your team in team coaching, coaching of the team leader or pairs of team members, or individual coaching

Discover more about how you can have extraordinary teams at the ETI product information page


Kevin Coray, Ph.D.,is an author, organization development consultant, industrial and organizational psychologist, a master somatic coach, and a shared leader of the Extraordinary Teams Partnership. He lives in Alexandria, VA.


1. The Gallup Organization. (2001, March 15). What your disaffected workers cost. Gallup Management Journal. The Gallup Organization (2004) [online] Available at www.gallup.com. 

2. The Gallup Organization. (2016, April 16). 35 Organizations Lead the World in Creating Cultures of Engagement. Ed O’Boyle and Jim Harte.

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.