Running regular health checks sets the culture and tone for your team. It signals that you value and want to hear their voice about how they feel about their work. It is a valuable exercise that gives everyone insight into where problems might exist and to become the focus of the sprint retrospective. TeamRetro’s health check comes in either a radar or emoticon formats depending on how you like to collect and visualize data.
So now you have the data – what do you do?
This blog gives you a starting point to leverage the data you have generated to guide the conversation with the team. While we have used the extreme cases for illustration purposes, the same rules of engagement apply for an individual dimension.
All signs point to green.
- Identify what might be the causes of success– Lessons learned are not limited to just failure. Ask teams what is creating this success, recognize it, then feed the beast.
- Ask the question– What would hinder or stop this success going forward? Identify the risks and potential issues that might come up in the future.
- Challenge the team – What would happen if you extended the health check to product owners, scaled teams or leadership stakeholders?
- Change the dimensions – If these areas seem to be working well over a period of time, experiment with changing one or two dimensions.
- Don’t rest on your laurels – Just because you’ve worked out at the gym and the results have shown doesn’t mean you should neglect it. Continue to validate the status of the team even if all is does is allow you to celebrate successes. If over time your team’s health continues to hold true, this becomes a great communication story to share with others in your organization (We’d love to hear about this story too).
There’s a lot of mellow yellow.
- Look for variation in responses – ie. some people are very happy and others not (Use TeamRetro’s sort by mixed responses first to look at the dimensions that have the most mixed responses). Explore what might be causing the divide.
- Check for psychological safety – If responses are all very neutral, it could be that people are too scared to speak the truth and have gone for something neutral.
- Look for opportunities to move the needle – this is a perfect time to talk through what people think we need to do to shift the needle and to move us into the 5’s and in the greens.
- Check for understanding of health dimensions. Clarify with the team that they know what the dimensions mean (or mean to them). Redefine or rescope the dimensions and try again to see if that makes a difference if need be.
- Watch out for Unhealthy Peace – this basically means people are avoiding conflict which in its own right can be detrimental to the overall goals of the project.
Oh dear the red is here.
- Call out the elephant in the room. Find out what is causing the biggest issues and have team members air it out, straight away. If the culture isn’t quite there yet, then try using anonymity to help. Remind people it’s not about placing fault but looking for the way forward.
- Identify the root cause. Use the 5 why technique to drill down into what might be causing the issue then ask the team to address the root cause.
- Use the circle and soups model (or circles of influence to help address those issues). What can they individually change or control, what can they do as a team, and what is beyond their control.
- Look for quick wins if possible. Run a retrospective such as the DAKI or the StarFish retrospective that focuses heavily on actions to take forward so that concerns can be quickly addressed.
- Talk to people. Be vulnerable. With signs of bad health it can be cathartic (but also empowering) to be the first to shoulder the blame, take some responsibility or just open up to people to listen as to what is on their minds.
Some final team health tips for Scrum Mastery
TeamRetro lets you automatically re order the group’s responses by original order, most positive, most negative or most mixed responses first. Whichever order you choose, make sure you honor each dimension. Only focussing on negatives can make gatherings a glum, moody experience. Looking at the most mixed responses highlights the division in the room so giving each side an opportunity to share their perspective can give insight to others.
Looking at data from one health check is certainly useful for short term planning and focussing retrospective topics so tget the biggest bang for buck. Long term data shows progress and can be a great way to celebrate and acknowledge team effort and success.
One last note. Data is important. Conversation with people is vital. Taking action and follow however is what causes the shift. Knowing which battles to fight as a scrum master, which needs to be left to be self-directed by the team and which requires the wisdom to accept and let is part of the skill.
Don’t stop listening and keep up the great work! Ready to discover your team’s health?