5 tips for getting the most out of your agile team health check
Team health checks are a really easy way of measuring and tracking a team’s well-being to inform data driven action points that help support a team’s continuous improvement!
If you’re new to team health checks, or if you just want to make sure you’re making the most of them, we’ve pulled together our top five tips to help you on your way.
Tip 5. Aim to support not judge
Health checks are a great way to gain insight into the support your team needs; and can show you where you can bring the most benefit.
So, take care – this isn’t the time to show off your extrapolation skills. If a health check points to a team being ‘unhappy’, that doesn’t mean they aren’t delivering value.
Although it might be tempting to compare individuals or teams based on the results of a health check, such an undertaking is fraught. A team that records mainly “green” responses may simply feel uncomfortable discussing certain issues, while those registering “red” may be embracing the opportunity to improve.
That’s why you should make your first step adopting the mantra ‘support don’t judge’. Approach the team with an open and curious mind as such a mindset is conducive to supporting team growth.
To check you’ve embraced the right mindset, ask yourself ‘Who are you hoping to benefit?’; if your answer isn’t ‘Your team’, it’s time to recalibrate.
Tip 4. Talk to your team
This one may seem obvious, but it’s often missed.
When you have –
a backlog of Everest proportions,
an infinity of back-to-back meetings and
you’re seriously considering skipping your morning shower to save yourself some time (please don’t, always shower),
you may find yourself inexplicably assuming the talents of your team extend to being able to read your mind. They can’t – so talk to them.
The main things to cover when you first run a health check –
What a health check is and why they’re valuable
The dimensions the health check includes and what they mean
How health checks will happen in your team
Any concerns your team may have
This step comes with a bonus.
Not only is this a chance for you to connect with your team, but it also helps to show you are genuine in your wish to be supportive, that your actions and words align, and that the introduction of health checks is not a box ticking exercise. When a team considers their manager genuine and supportive, team wellness is enhanced.
Tip 3. Connect to your existing process and practice
One of the easiest ways of integrating a health check into your team’s world is by aligning it with your retrospective.
Performing a health check before or after a retrospective means it won’t interrupt other workflow commitments. They can easily be aligned to asynchronous retros too.
Aligning it to your retro doesn’t mean duplicating exactly what happens during your retro.
The health check space is one in which responses are captured quickly and independently and it’s not a time to discuss issues nor explore treatments and solutions. It’s an opportunity to gauge team wellness at a particular point in time. You can even run a health check prior to your retro and use the data to define the focus for the next retrospective to address a particular area.
Tip 2. Make it regular
There are two key reasons for this –
Firstly – the foundation for improving team health is measuring it, and the cornerstone of that foundation is the ability to track it over time. Tracking will allow you to appropriately target areas of concern and assess the effectiveness of the type of support that’s been made available to your team. Using a health check connects to a data driven practice; it’s your tool to help define the actions and resources that will provide the support your team needs so they can improve.
Secondly – this is a chance for you to demonstrate you value your team and their well-being, and in a time poor world nothing says that quite like reserving a space for it in your schedule.
That’s why it’s important to hold a team health check regularly. If you find a monthly team health check a little too much, try every two months or whatever interval helps you build the health check habit.
Tip 1. Make it safe
It’s simply not possible to overstate the importance of conducting a team health check in a psychologically safe space.
Your team needs to feel comfortable in their courage; they need to feel they may offer honest and open responses without fear of adverse action (be it direct or indirect).
Some of your team members may already feel this, others may need some support to get there, and so here’s how you can help –
Make your team health checks anonymous…really anonymous… not the sort of anonymous that can be easily reversed so it’s possible to take a sneaky peak at who said what…. actually anonymous… so no one knows who owns which response… including you. [ Psst… TeamRetro lets you set health checks that are anonymous to both participants and facilitators.]
Share it with the team (and those supporting them) but no further. Sharing it beyond this increases the likelihood that the results won’t be used for the purpose for which the health check was designed.