Why doing Team Health Checks?
The ability to work together, as a true team, is far better than the expertise of each individual.
Importance of a team health check
Great success and achievements do not come overnight, and are rarely the result of a person alone, but rather by a group of individuals what we commonly call a “team”.
But what makes a team great?
For instance, Google did its own research and found these 5 characteristics:
- Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
- Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high-quality work on time?
- Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
- Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
- Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?
The Team Health Check is a great way to take the temperature of a team. And that’s a starting point for improvement.
Goals of a Team Health Check
By doing regular checks, teams should be able to:
- Increase trust and psychological safety within the team
- Have better relationships between teammates
- Create a culture of constructive criticism and feedback
- Raise issues and fix them quickly
- Share their feelings more easily and frequently
How to do a Team Health Check
There are many ways to run a Team Health Check.
Use a Niko-Niko Calendar
A Niko-Niko Calendar is a simple calendar with everybody’s name on it. At the end of the day, each team member is invited to share their mood of the day, sticking smilies happy :-), straight :-, or frowning :-( or color stickers on it.
Create an Emotional Seismograph with the team
During, one of your retrospectives, try the Emotional Seismograph format.
It’s an easy and fun way to get an overview of your team’s health.
Run Team Health Check like Spotify
The Team Health Check has been popularized by Spotify with their Squad Health Check model, where people are asked to score 11 different areas (Easy to release, Suitable process, Tech quality, Value, Speed, Mission, Fun, Learning, Support, Pawns or players) on three levels:
- green: good
- yellow: some problems
- red: really bad
How to leverage a Team Health Check
As James Willis, an Agile coach, told us, “Simply doing a health check things will not change anything, just like looking at a metric every day, won’t improve it”. So, how do you leverage your Team Health Check?
Share the results openly with your entire team.
It can be at a weekly, monthly or quarterly meeting, during a retrospective, … By sharing the aggregated results to your team, you show that their mood matters to you, and that’s already more than many managers do. But of course, it’s not enough.
Discuss the issues
If your team is in a bad mood or if a team member is constantly down, you need to raise the issue and try to find a solution. Talking about the “bad” results of a Team Health Check at a team meeting is the perfect opportunity to identify issues and discuss potential solutions. You can trust your team to know what they need to feel better.
Team Health Checks aren’t only issues alerts: they can demonstrate that your team is currently in a great mood. Like for bad moods, taking the time to discuss it with your team will help you understand the causes and better know your team. It can also be a great opportunity to celebrate successes or good news.
Going further: Suggest improvements from a Team Health Check
As proposed by Aaron Gallagher from his article about Team Health Check, you can combine a Team Health Check with a Perfection Game.
“[During a Perfection Game], people have to rate the value that they received on a scale from 1 to 10, based on how much value they think they could add themselves by improving the product or service. For example, when there is nothing that they think they can improve, they should rate with a 10. If they think that they could make it twice as valuable, they should give it a 5.
If somebody rates the value as 5, (s)he will have to provide suggestions on how to make it a 10. People can only withhold points if they provide suggestions to improve it.”
Starting from a Team Health Check, Aaron proposes to think about what we could do so that people would feel better in the workplace.
I’m still amazed by the fact that however simple the concept of Team Health Check is, it’s still rarely used by team leaders. So, start now with your first Team Health Check, and if you fall in love with it, use TeamMood to do it on a regular basis.