Leadership Team Health Monitor
For the leadership team Health Monitor, pick a common mission or goal, and assess your team's health against that. Don't rate yourself or the teams that report to you – this is about the collective leadership group.
USE THIS HEALTH MONITOR TO...
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses as a leadership team.
- Identify plays your team should run (and why).
AND I NEED THIS... WHY?
As a leadership team, you are a multiplier. You have many people looking to you for inspiration and direction. You produce work that is visionary and strategic instead of tactical and operational. Your leadership team might consist of senior executives charged with increasing customer engagement by 30% this year. Or it might be a collection of junior leaders from across the company whose teams are taking your product to market in a new country.
Over the years, we've observed eight attributes common amongst healthy leadership teams. This Health Monitor is a chance for your team to get a reading on each of them – to check your vital signs, if you will. From there, you can run other plays that change the way you work so you're building muscle in your weak areas, and follow up with quick checkpoints to track your progress.
Although the leadership team Health Monitor is most effective when run at the start of an initiative, you can run it at any point. For longer-term initiatives, we recommend running the full leadership Health Monitor play every three months, with quick checkpoints every 2 weeks.
WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED
Bring all members of your leadership team. Remember: these are the people responsible for directing the day-to-day work involved in this initiative – not the ones executing it.
Health Monitor template
Running the workshop
Health Monitor workshops and checkpoints are a time to reflect and be 100% present. Laptops closed, phones off, etc. If you treat it as a "yep, checked that box!" activity, your time is better spent elsewhere.
Draw the Health Monitor grid on a whiteboard, or print and distribute it as a handout. Select one member of the team to play the role of facilitator, or ask someone external to the team to step in and facilitate.
Set the stage (10 mins)
First, thank your team for making the time to attend the session. Remind them that you're running the Health Monitor to introspectively assess how well your team is working together. You'll be brutally honest and get into the warts and all to understand what's not working well. It's not all doom and gloom, though: you'll uncover good things too, and exchange some high-fives. You'll walk away knowing where your weak spots are, armed with ideas to help you build those muscles.
You'll be assessing your health strictly within the context of the initiative you're working on. For the next hour, there are no right or wrong answers, and everyone's opinion is equal.
INTRODUCE THE 8 ATTRIBUTES OF HEALTHY LEADERSHIP TEAMS
On a screen, display the eight attributes of healthy leadership teams and give your team a chance to read through them. (The headings are similar to those for project teams, but the definitions are customized for leadership teams.) Clarify any urgent questions, but don't get too entrenched as you'll want to jump into the activity and discussion as soon as possible.Download PDF Go to Confluence blueprint
Small group assessments (20 min)
Split the team into two groups – ideally, groups of mixed skills, experience and behavior to encourage divergent thought. Put the groups at different ends of the room. Note that if your team is larger than eight people, you might need to split into three groups.
Have the groups consider the eight attributes of healthy leadership teams and rate the team as red, yellow, or green on each one, using the Health Monitor grid (download it or get the Confluence Blueprint) to note the ratings. How you think about red, yellow and green can be completely arbitrary. Use your intuition and don't worry about criteria for each color – that only distracts from the discussion, and risks turning this into a check-the-box exercise.
Refer to each attribute's definition and list of questions to guide your assessments. With each rating, note one observation that led the group to pick that color.
Resist the temptation to solve problems right now, and just focus on observations. Make sure each person has a voice and a chance to contribute to their group's ratings individually before moving into whole-team discussions.
Here's how a Health Monitor grid might look over time:
If your team members tend to "settle" or call something "ok" when it really isn't, start with red as the default rating for all attributes, and make groups justify their way to a green rating.
Full-team discussion (20 min)
Bring the full team back together, and get each group's ratings side by side, or merge them onto a single grid, if that's easier. Have the full team stand around the wall in a semi-circle. Go through each attribute one by one, and ask the groups to explain their red/yellow/green rating.
If, for example, one group rated "Balanced team" as red, and the other group rated it green, dig deeper and try to reach a consensus. The facilitator's job is to (gently, respectfully) challenge team members and tease out any differences between ratings. Ask "Why?" and "How?" a lot.
Again, don't try to solve problems yet.
Focus areas, actions, and owners (10 min)
Ask your team to collectively come up with one attribute you want to focus on. Yes: ONE. And nail it!
Ask your team to call out ways to move that red or yellow toward green. Make sure they are actionable, specific, and measurable.
Add action items to your meeting notes with clear due dates, and assign them to team members.
Be sure to capture your Health Monitor grid on paper or a Confluence page.
Finally, agree on a cadence for checkpoints. In pursuing your common mission, it's easy to get lost in the daily grind. We forget that each team member's experience is a little different, as are their needs. That's why checkpoints are so important: the health of the leadership team is indicative of your chances for success.
We also recommend scheduling another full Health Monitor workshop in two to three months or so.
Set a regular cadence for Health Monitor checkpoints. Are your reds and yellows moving toward green? Have any of your greens slipped into the red? Regular checks help keep momentum high and catch problem areas before they become destructive.
Some teams incorporate checkpoints into an existing team ritual, like a weekly team meeting. Other teams periodically replace rituals like sprint retrospectives or stand-ups with a checkpoint. But you can schedule the checkpoints separately, if need be.
For the checkpoint, pull up your Health Monitor grid. Have the full team assess how they're doing on each attribute using the same red/yellow/green ratings.
Pay special attention to the attribute you chose to focus on during the full Health Monitor session. When it goes green, choose a new focus and look for plays that will help. Remember: the plays are different ways of going about your daily work, which means you can run them even if you aren't struggling. Preventative care works for teams just like it works for our bodies!
Take a deep breath
Sit with the overall results and marinate in them for a bit. Then refer to the grid below as you think about which plays are the best fit for your team. You're on your way!
Yellow or red? Don't panic.
Here are a few suggested plays for improving in each area. Don't treat these as prescriptions! You know your team better than anyone, so check them out, explore other plays, and do what you think is best.
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