In this blog post, I want to share a powerful tool, leadership health check. This will help your management team become stronger and reveal improvement opportunities for active service-oriented leadership teams, thus better empowering the agile teams you support.
First, let’s start from scratch.
One of my favorite exercises in the agile coach’s toolbox is the square health check I learned while working in spotify https://www.bobjiang.com/posts/blog/sqad_ health_ check_ model.html ） 。 This is a seminar for self-assessment in the form of a review. During the meeting, the team expressed their feelings on various topics, such as collaboration, value of delivery, influence, and support from the organization. As a result, insights and improvements to team and leadership are generated. I like this tool because it’s a great tool to strengthen self-organization, organizational culture and continuous learning.
More than a year ago, one of spotify’s colleagues, Georgiana Laura levinta, and I created the leadership health check for our tribe https://www.bobjiang.com/posts/blog/scaling-agile-spotify-with-tribes-squads-chapters-guilds.html ） 。
Inspired by the square health check, geo and I used this approach to help tribe managers self assess their leadership in providing positive support to square within tribe and discuss how they can improve as a team to provide better support.
Since then, I have adopted this approach with casumo clients based on their background, culture and beliefs. We have practiced several times in the company’s leadership team as well as at the tribe level (semi autonomous department), with great success and value. I believe that both team health check and leadership health check are very powerful; therefore, I would like to recommend them to the wider agile community, hoping that more organizations will find their value, or at least be inspired by them, and then try something completely different.
If you do not want to know the origin and thinking behind the team and leadership health check, but just download the seminar materials, please pay attention to the official account reply to the “check list” to get the download address.
Team health checklist
(suard health check by spotify)
The first version of spotify’s suard health check looks very different from today’s version. It raises questions like “do you have a product owner Po? Do you have the support of an agile coach? Is “and” easy to release? “And things like that. As these organizational pain points (e.g., not all teams have PO) disappear, the survey has evolved into a more focused on self-organization, teamwork, sustainable processes, and task clarity (see example on the right).
This form spread rapidly within spotify, and more and more teams and tribe ‘are using it. Today, it has become a deeply ingrained habit in many organizations. The team checks twice to four times a year. As each cube adopts it based on its background and needs and shares its version with other cubes, the tool evolves.
The Team Health Check
The inspiration for the team health check I share in this blog post is spotify’s Square health check. By working with other customers, I improved it to make it more versatile.
Now, the elaboration of various topics and comments attempts to embed the reflection and research of some works, such as Christopher avery’s team is an individual skill, J. Richard Hackman’s leading teams, Daniel h. Pink’s drive, Stanley McChrystal’s team of teams, Patrick Lencioni’s Google’s Aristotle project and the Five Dysfunctions of a team There are many other books and studies on the ideas of agile leaders.
The team health check contains about 12 topics. For each topic, there are green and red descriptions. Green indicates observed health or positive cases. Red indicates unhealthy or unhealthy cases. Here are two examples:
1) Team self organization
Green: I think we can manipulate and shape our own plans and destiny. Together we decide how we work.
Red: someone is always in charge. I don’t know what we can and can’t decide.
Green: we give positive praise, but also provide constructive feedback on each other’s inefficient behaviors.
Red: we rarely praise each other, and we don’t give each other feedback because of irresponsible behavior or breach of our work agreement.
Adopt team health check
If you are going to practice “team health check” with your team in your organization, I strongly recommend that you modify it based on the culture and background of the organization, and decide which of the templates can be retained. I believe this is a great leadership practice. The challenge of defining themes and statements forces you, as leaders, to focus on the culture you desire to build, the behaviors you want to see, and the expected members who agree with leadership and organizational expectations.
Since the team may have health checkups several times a year, to some extent, this can be your goal education and, in a sense, a list of rights for the team. If they get problems every time and feel able to manipulate and shape their plans and destinies, they find their way. If asked if they have time to think and try ahead, it means that they should be allowed enough time to do so. wait.
In my experience, team health checks are conducted twice or four times a year with the team, and you will gain:
Better understanding of team level, status, challenges and opportunities.
Trigger a qualitative discussion of each team’s current health status.
As with good reviews, improvements are generated within the team.
Reveal to the leadership how they need to improve for service leadership, or how they can provide additional support enabling teams
Communicating expectations for desired behaviors (e.g., collaboration, feedback, integrity) should also allow teams to express expectations for Organizational Leadership (support, trust, participation, connection to goals, and reasons).
It’s not a tool for comparison!
If you, as a team member, are afraid or notice that the results of self-assessment have been used by management to compare how “good” different teams are – then don’t share your results outside the team! As with any other form of retrospective, use it as a tool to generate insights (Insights), discussions, and actions. Share actions, outcomes, not discussions.
If you’re a manager, you want to use the tool to assess your team’s “agile maturity,” performance, or compare between teams – don’t do this! The answer will be very subjective, reflecting the specific circumstances and challenges of each team. If you want to evaluate, the results of the practice can show how well you are supporting the team. It’s not a measure of how well your team performs, but how well you perform as a leader.
Leadership health checklist
The purpose of the leadership health check is the same as that of the team health check, which can self assess how our teams feel in various areas and reveal how we can improve the value of collaboration and delivery. In this case, the team is the manager and leader of a group of agile teams. The value we provide is the support we provide to the team and the work we do to help the team deliver value to users and stakeholders.
The origin of leadership health check
(results of exercise voting for leadership health check)
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the first edition of the leadership health check was developed with spotify’s colleague, Georgiana Laura levinta. Georgiana also wrote an internal blog post about spotify created by the tool. Hopefully one day it will be posted on spotify’s official blog.
The version I’m sharing here is the one I’m running with the current client, casumo. It has led to a lot of discussion about leadership in agile environments. It brings together the leadership team, motivates action and change to further improve the way they support the team.
Practice has proved that it is effective for the company’s leadership team (composed of CEO, CTO, CFO, etc.) and department level leaders. The seminar generated insights and guided the leadership team to determine the next work priorities.
Design leadership team
The leadership health check recognizes that a leader / manager team is different from a team that is closely integrated to launch a product or provide a service. They may not collaborate to achieve short-term goals, but what unites them is the services they provide: providing support, guidance, guidance and an environment in which teams can thrive and stand out. To do this effectively, they need to see themselves as a team, aligned with values and long-term strategies, and agree on how to make decisions and what constitutes good leadership.
Some of these topics are the same as those of the team health check, such as trust and security, reliability, continuous improvement, and feedback. Others are specific to the leadership health check, such as culture and values, vision and direction, service-oriented leadership and transparency.
Using the leadership health check
My advice is the same as that of the team health check. If you want to use the leader health check in your department or company, I strongly recommend that it be used to check the level of leadership based on culture and trust.
Agreeing on a set of topics and statements is a great exercise and is likely to lead to a lot of difficult and healthy discussions that force you to adjust and decide what is important to you. For example, do you think you are a team or a loose group of people? Do you believe in inclusive decision-making or clear decision-making? Your position on these issues should be reflected in the health examination.
Practice community health examination
It’s a surprise reward. When I work with clients, I come into contact with high-end talent. Talent in their organization is a group of people with the same beliefs and abilities, sometimes referred to as communities of practice. At spotify, this is the chapter. We have developed health check ups whose themes are tailored to the needs of members of the community of practice. They don’t usually work toward a common goal as a team, but they do share other needs, such as knowledge sharing, help, alignment with certain long-term strategies, and so on.
Themes and statements have not been retouched or improved many times, if any. However, if necessary, we can pay attention to the reply of the official account to the check list. Maybe you can use it as a source of inspiration.
I lead the team and leadership checks in almost exactly the same way. I usually plan a 90 minute meeting and make the following arrangements for the seminar:
1) Welcome – 5 minutes
A description of the purpose and structure of the workshop. I emphasize that the way of self-assessment is a form of review, rather than a way to measure our quality as a team from any objective point of view.
2) Self assessment – 15 minutes
For each topic, I ask someone to read the topic aloud, green and red statements. Then everyone voted. If you think green is the best way to show things, please vote green. If you think red is the best indicator of how things are going, choose red. If you see both green and red examples, or if you think something is neither green nor red, vote it yellow. Collect the votes, then move on to the next topic, ask the next person to read aloud, and so on.
Note: when doing this together, I ask people to vote with green, yellow or red post it notes. Then I collect the note paper and put it on the whiteboard. While working with remote members to facilitate the workshop, I prepared a Google Spreadsheet and asked participants to vote on the document. In the screenshot below, you can see both the team members’ votes and the comments captured in the discussion after step 4.
3) Reflection – 5 minutes
I ask you to comment briefly and reflect on the overall results. -5 minutes
4) Explore improvement measures – 45 minutes
Find and discuss the most interesting results. It may be the red topic with the most votes, or the green, yellow, and red topics with the widest voting range. Our views on this topic are quite different. I try to facilitate the discussion in order to make recommendations and decisions and take action.
5) Summary – 5 minutes
Repeat the agreed action points and responsible persons.
Make sure someone is assigned to record and share the results.
6) End – 5 minutes
End the session. I usually ask everyone to comment briefly, “what do you think is the most important discussion or action for our team? “
**Q: does this exercise require trust among team members to make the answer more comprehensive? * *
Yes. But I also believe that doing this kind of practice can build trust. As team members realize that this is not a tool to assess them, but a tool to help them become stronger, the answer will be more honest. As a result, the discussions that followed produced deeper insights and more influential actions and changes.
Q: isn’t it valuable for a department to aggregate team health examination results from several teams?
of course. If you, as a leader, want to look at patterns and trends to see where you should focus, this can be very valuable. The figure above shows a real-world example in spotify. This makes it easier for leaders to prioritize and prioritize their work, for example. Team 4 was set up two weeks ago, so their self-awareness may be really low because everything looks green. Team 2 seems to be struggling a lot. As a result, the two teams received additional support and care.
Q: but I really want to use it to compare the performance of different teams. Why can’t I?
No, you can’t! There are several reasons. It’s a self-assessment, so the results reveal the team’s professionalism from the individual perspective of the team. One team may feel that they are moving very fast, while another team is very slow, even if they are all released at a weekly pace. The backgrounds and challenges of each team vary greatly. One team may post daily updates to the site, while another team struggles with many external dependencies. One team may be large, and the other may be small. wait.
If you use it for comparison, and perhaps even for deciding which team to reward, the team knows that and starts to calculate the results with dishonest answers to “look good.”.
Q: should the results be shared?
I believe in transparency, so if you ask me – yes. My suggestion, however, is to share the results and agree on actions, not who votes on each topic. Being transparent and sharing results builds trust, enables cross team learning, and fosters a sense of responsibility.
Q: I think some questions are too vague and open. What if we divide them into more questions and narrow them down?
Certainly. If these questions don’t lead to a good discussion and can’t provide useful insights, try other questions. But my suggestion is not to ask more than 12 to 14 questions. If you add one, maybe you should remove the other. Q: to save time, should I send questions and ask people to vote before the seminar?
Maybe it’s a big group, like more than 10 people. Otherwise, I think it will be more fun and participatory to work together in the seminar.
Pay attention to the official account and view the pictures. Reply to “checklist” for download address. Don’t hesitate to copy and adopt them based on your context and then use them with your team.
Checked by: Jiang Xinbao
Original text: https://blog.crisp.se/2019/03/11/jimmyjanlen/health-checks-for-teams-and-leadership
This article starts from Bob Jiang’s blog. Please contact Bob Jiang for reprint