Ready to health check your team?

Posted: 9th August, 2014

How healthy is your team?

Most of us get our car checked once a year; we should be getting our bodies checked every few years;  and more and more leaders are being "encouraged" to do 360s regularly so they know how their leadership is perceived. 

So what about a health check of your team? You know, that group of people you and your organisation are relying on to do more with less.

What would a team health check look like?

Using 1 to 1 interviews (ideally) or an online survey, the whole team is asked for feedback on 

- the team's Purpose ( How clear is it? What is it? Is everyone going in the same direction? Is it compelling and aligned to the business? Do we have team goals that get reviewed regularly?)

- the team's Talent ( Does the talent match the purpose? Are individuals' skills being fully used? Are roles and responsibilities clear?)

- the team's Norms  (What are the conscious or unconscious rules of being in this team eg can the boss be challenged? How are decisions made? Are these norms productive or unproductive?)

- the team's Commitment ( Are individuals really committed to the team and it's success? What is the one team jersey people wear - of this team or some other team? Is the work of the team energetic and vital?)

- the team's Dynamics ( How is conflict dealt with? What are the patterns of energy in the team? What is the level of trust in the team?)

-the team's Core Learning ( How does the team learn from its successes and failures? Do team members give each other feedback?)

and of course, the life blood of any team; 

- the team's Performance/Results ( What are the team's performance measures? How are they assessed? Does the team get recognised?)

The individual team member responses are compiled through one to one interviews or via a survey, analysed, and then shared with the whole team, ideally as a one day workshop with the morning focused on the results (the range of scores within the team being as important as the average score) and the rest of the day focused on key gaps to develop and action planing. 

What are key conditions for a successful team checkup?

1. The whole team, not just the leader, needs to be up for it (nothing worse than having a blood test done when your veins don't want to be there) so it needs team commitment.

2. The leader needs to be prepared not to take anything personally - easier said then done sometimes as there may be implied criticism in the scores.  The leader needs to be able to role model the openness and courage it takes in having their team reviewed.

3. The leader is part of the team and definitely part of the diagnostic and debrief (I would have concerns if the leader didn't want to be involved or the rest of the team didn't want them involved - that's A&E material straight away for any team)

4. Teams don't exist in a vacuum - they are co-missioned by key stakeholders who have expectations of the team and who ultimately define team success or failure. Why not involve these stakeholders in the survey process so that their perceptions and expectations of the team are explicit and can guide the team.

Finally, self examination has its obvious challenges as we can be blind to certain things or not have the skill to explore issues.
An experienced team coach can bring the expertise and the external view that makes this a safe yet challenging process for any team, be they a new team, a stuck team  or even a perceived high performing team.

Health checks are about awareness - what is working, what needs to be improved. Isn't it time for your team to look in the mirror?

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