If you’re worried your team isn’t performing as well as it could be, but you just can’t put your finger on why, then don’t worry, you are not alone. While it’s often understood that teams are much more than the sum of their parts, working out what is limiting them can often be far less straightforward.
But that’s where Creative Huddle’s ‘Team Health Check’ comes in. It’s been specifically developed to start tackling this exact question.
Introducing the Team Health Check
Q: Can you explain exactly what the Team Health Check comprises?
A: It’s a unique tool that takes as its starting point the fact there’s no such thing as a perfect team. But what it does, however, is give managers the ability to determine where there could be room for improvement, and how improvements can be made. Via the Team Health Check people anonymously answer three questions each, across the ten pillars we believe contribute to impactful teams – so 30 questions in total. They’re asked to rank their responses on a scale of one-to-five. The questions are highly targeted, and when combined, create both an overall team effectiveness score and scores out of five for each of the ten areas interrogated.
For instance, on the first pillar – ‘Direction’ – team members will be asked to score the extent to which their team has a clear vision; is on the same page when it comes to goals and objectives; and whether they feel their work is important and has positive impact. Typically, any pillar that has an average score less than three will require more investigation; a score of four and over is good, but there could still be areas for improvement.
Q: Is the key thing that people are ranking how they see the team, not their own performance?
A: Exactly. This is not an individual personality test. We don’t look at individual scores, because we’re not asking people to rate themselves, but their team. The amalgamated score for each pillar is therefore a more accurate view of how everyone on that team sees that particular measure. When looking at the results we can start to see exactly where there are perceived deficiencies. If the score for ‘Direction’ is, say 3.8, we can then work out how it could be moved towards 5.
In essence, it gives managers a place to start, and a place for new conversations about teamwork to begin.
Optimal and actionable
Q: What’s the theory behind having just having the 30 questions?
A: Make questionnaires too much longer, and they can become a bit of an ordeal for people. What we’ve purposely done is work out the optimal number of questions that will work the hardest to identify actionable insights. It’s based on years of experience and from reading everything we can about team theory.
Q: How accurate is the Team Health Check?
A: Like any questionnaire, there is an element of it being reflective of what might have happened to a team that day / week. But the research we’ve done suggests it creates an overall balanced view of how the team thinks it’s working at that point in time. By asking questions at the team level though, any biases should be ironed out. What we do encourage however, is for people not to simply put ‘3’ (ie average), for every answer. We want them to think conscientiously about how they are scoring their team. What the results create are conversation starters – areas that managers can now see might require more improvement.
Identifying key areas
Q: Are the results typically a surprise, or do they confirm what people already sense?
A: It’s not often that the results of a Team Health Check are completely out of kilter with what managers might have sensed, but the key is that it precisely identifies where performance is breaking down. Sometimes a manager may think there is a breakdown in one area – for instance communication – but they may find the bigger problem is somewhere else. So it helps pinpoint more accurately where attention is needed. Generally speaking we tend to find that teams score consistently good or bad across the board, but there are better or worse areas within this broad score that warrant attention.
Q: Do high scores across some key pillars tend to predict high scores across to the other pillars too?
A: There is some correlation, yes. It’s of course possible for there to be extremes in the scores from pillar to pillar. But it’s likely that if they score highly for culture, for example, they’ll also score highly for psychological safety and teamwork. What’s interesting, is that we’ve never had any pillar have an average score starting with a 1, and nor has one ever hit 5. This indicates people are scoring thoughtfully as they work their way through the questionnaire. The highest average score any pillar has reached is 4.4.
Q: Could one disadvantage be that it reveals areas for improvement that people may think are beyond their control?
A: I’m often asked whether the ‘culture’ pillar can feel like something bigger than a single team can fix – ie that this is an organisation-wide issue. But what we say is that you can still have a unique team culture within an organisation. This would be around things like how the team makes decisions and build relationships. In this respect, culture isn’t just something the organisation owns.
Q: Once they have their score, then what?
A: In many ways, this is where the fun stuff starts. Not only does it identify areas for further discovery and action, it’s a baseline that employers can refer to, and see if interventions we bring make any difference six months down the line. So in essence, it helps validate any remedial work employers then choose to take. By taking the assessment, we give teams a sense of collective responsibility. It’s their result remember. That way teams can see that it’s up to them to improve upon the areas that are highlighted.