You might be surprised to learn what I look for to know if a team is healthy.  Some of these are obvious signs of the health of your team, some are less so.  How is your team doing?

  1. You spend precious little time together and you relentlessly focus that time on issues that you can ONLY create or resolve together.  You have the confidence in one another to leave some issues to the individuals who have the accountability to deal with them and don’t run your business by committee.  Bless you.
  2. Every once in a while you have a productive meeting without an agenda. If your team needs an agenda to be productive, it’s like needing a leash to make your dog heel–he’s not really trained.  If you’re really clear on your mandate, you should be able to have a fruitful discussion without needing an agenda to tie things down.
  3. You fight openly.  This is a critical measure of a healthy team.  It means that you have diverse perspectives and the trust in one another to disagree face-to-face.  It’s like in healthy families.  It’s not that healthy families don’t fight, they just fight fair.  Healthy teams are the same.
  4. You wrestle with significant, difficult, ugly challenges.  The difference in healthy teams is that they are different challenges than you were struggling with six months ago.  Your team goes after the hard stuff, tackles it, and then keeps striving for the next hard thing that will make a real difference to your business.
  5. Sometimes there are raised voices and people pounding tables.  This means you give a damn.  I am very suspicious of a team that never gets hot under the collar.  To have enough passion to accomplish things worth accomplishing, you need the level of emotional investment that means it will inevitably spill over sometimes…anger, tears, whatever.
  6. There is a 3 nanosecond gap between each person speaking.  This is a good indication that you actually listen to one another. If there is no silence (or if people interrupt each other), you can be sure that people aren’t sucking the value out of what you’re saying.   Healthy teams channel their passion, calm the frenetic pace and listen deeply to one another.
  7. Sometimes it’s just quiet… the team is in flow and everybody knows what they need to be doing.  No one needs to be proving their worth or endlessly babbling on about things. They are just going about the business of the team.

What’s the sure sign that your team is healthy? Add your ideas to the comments below.

Further Reading

The Secret of Effective Teamwork

What is a Vital Team?

Liane’s Back to Basics Listening Drill

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