How Healthy Is Your Team?

What would you learn about a team if given a setting that would trigger honest observation and constructive discussion of a team’s current health? That’s where a Team Health Check can help reveal these insights and spark discussion.

Health Check, you say? The very mention might make a “tense” team cringe and a “happy” team shrug. The latter has their problems figured out after all.

But, in a dynamic environment like that at DramaFever, priorities change week-by-week, team situations are ever-changing as well. Sometimes team developments are obvious or subtle; some are positive and other shifts are problematic. Other times changes impact one person on a team instead of the whole. You get the picture: a company change begets interteam shifts with a variety of consequences. But, with so many potentials (and busy teams), how can identification and resolution be done productively? No easy magic exists, but there are a multitude of options that set the tone for efficiently spotting these problems known as “Team Health Checks”. All it requires is a hour of a team’s time on a quarterly basis, a good facilitator and some willing participants.

This sounds all fine and dandy, but the real test is giving it a go. And, that’s exactly what a few teams have done at DramaFever, and the results were interesting.

Here are some examples.

Experiment Run #1: Project Team

This quarter, the Project Team has been experimenting with Health Checks - specifically a Barometer Health Check, which enables a team to identify their strengths, weakness and hazy areas and feel empowered to discuss them in a candid, yet blameless environment.

The Barometer Health Check works identifies 16 crucial team characteristics (trust, collaboration and mutual respect to name a few). Attendees have a set of cards representing each, including a positive (green) statement about that characteristic and a negative version (red) of that statement. A facilitator is present to execute the exercise without adding context (that is the team’s job), tactfully guide the conversation and keep participants on topic and timebox. The team votes on the health of each characteristic, an average of how healthy each characteristic (and the overall team health) is determined and most importantly - closing discussion on what they discover is had.

When the Project Team put this to practice (I facilitated the Health Check), I have to admit the results weren’t what I expected. I viewed my team as one of those aforementioned “happy” and engaged teams - healthy!

The results of the Check were otherwise. We received a 77%! Say what?

Though many pain points were due to being a newly established team, it still was a surprising score. Holistically, we did build our communication lines and honesty as a result of this meeting. It also established monthly team-building exercises for us to improve our score, in addition to another Q1 Health Check to see how we do!

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Experiment Run #2: The Gophers

I also facilitated a Health Check with our Gopher Team and the reviews were quite good, except for one item - my tracking of votes per characteristic via sticky note was distracting(Clearly, someone just wants sticky-note duty!).

All in all, the Check resulted in some open conversation and tangible action items.

Wrapping Up

All things said, understanding the health of your team members is imperative, especially as big changes develop in a company. It’s not always simple to pull that information out of certain people; but methods like Health Checks provide an empowering environment to explore just that with a simple and direct exercise and a considerate timebox.