Service Team Health Monitor


The service team Health Monitor gets your team to look at the big picture so that, over time, working through the queue will feel less like... well, work.

USE THIS HEALTH MONITOR TO...
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses as a service team.
  • Identify plays your team should run (and why).
AND I NEED THIS... WHY?

Service teams are more common than you might think. It's not just customer support and the IT help desk. It's accounts payable. Recruiting. Legal. Public relations. Build engineering. Even design teams that operate like an in-house creative agency are service teams. What makes these all service teams is that your queue is made up of requests from people outside your team – whether it's reviewing contracts for internal customers, or providing tech support for external ones.

No matter what type of service you provide, your team can't deliver their best work unless you're working well together. Even though you may rely heavily on tools as you work through the queue, those tools are worthless without the right people and processes. Getting that in place means more time for those all-important special projects that help you prevent fires rather than fighting them.

Over the years, we've observed eight attributes common amongst healthy service 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.

WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED

Bring in the people on the front lines of running the service, as well as your team lead. Others stakeholders, including customers should sit this one out.

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People

Your team

Prep time

5 min

Time

1 hr

Difficulty

Moderate

Download

Heath 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.

MATERIALS

PREP

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.

STEP 1

Set the stage (10 mins)

WELCOME

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 service you provide. For the next hour, there are no right or wrong answers, and everyone's opinion is equal.

INTRODUCE THE 8 ATTRIBUTES OF HEALTHY SERVICE TEAMS

On a screen, display the eight attributes of healthy service teams and give your team a chance to read through them. 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

Pro tip

On a large screen, display the 8 attributes of healthy service teams using the Health Monitor PDF or Confluence Blueprint.

STEP 2

Small group assessments (20 min)

Split the team into two groups – ideally, groups of mixed skills, experience and behaviour 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 service 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 colour.

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 what a Health Monitor grid might look like over time:

 

Health Monitor attribute grid

Pro tip

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. 

STEP 3

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.

Pro tip

If you're struggling to reach consensus on a rating, refer back to that attribute's definition and the questions associated with it. If there's still controversy, choose the lower rating – better to err on the side of caution than assume things are better than they really are.

STEP 4

Focus areas, actions, and owners (10 min)

Ask your team to collectively come up with two attributes you want to focus on. Yes: just two. Ask your team to call out ways to move the reds or yellows 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.

CHECKPOINTS

Finally, agree on a cadence for checkpoints. As you go about operating your service, 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: a healthy service team has a better shot at providing high-quality service.

We also recommend scheduling another full Health Monitor workshop in two to three months or so.

Pro tip

Stumped? No worries. Check out the section at the bottom of this page for plays designed to help you build muscle in your weak areas.

FOLLOW-UPS

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 attributes you chose to focus on during the full Health Monitor session. When one 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!

Pro tip

To keep it lively, call out each attribute and have everyone give a thumbs up for green, sideways for yellow or down for red. The whole team give their rating on the count of three (sorta Rock, Paper, Scissors-style).

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.

Team leadership

Service mandate

Effective partnerships

Reporting and analytics

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