Why doing Team Health Checks?

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”.

The ability to work together, as a true team, is far better than the expertise of each individual.

But what makes a team great?

For instance, Google did its own research and found these 5 characteristics:

  1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high-quality work on time?
  3. Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  5. 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
  • Keep your team zen thanks to regular Team Health Checks

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.

Celebrate successes

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.

Your turn!

Run your first Team Health Check, and be amazed!

About the author: This is a guest post by the folks at TeamMood. They know a lot about team health checks, go check them out.

Why doing Team Health Checks?
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