Understanding Team Health: why it matters and how it improves your teams
The Team Chemistry tool was built in times that are best described as ‘more normal’. The tool is a unique way to look at your team’s culture. It is developed to measure the four key dimensions of culture so that leaders know where to focus their efforts. These are:
- Emotional Connection
- Psychological Safety
As workspaces became more fluid this year, we updated the tool to understand how working locations impact the team culture. We add this viewpoint to our existing four dimensions as above.
As a result, our tool is refined to help you better understand the team health and measure the culture of your team no matter how you now operate.
BT has been part of our beta testers for the updated version of the Understanding Team Health tool. The work we do with clients is confidential as we are dealing with sensitive issues. So we want to thank BT for allowing us to share their experiences.
All quotes in this case study are from leaders within BT but are anonymised.
Benefits for Team Managers
Firstly, look at how the team can help and support team managers so they can better lead their teams.
“The tool was helpful, particularly now as we’re working remote, which is something we’re not used to doing. It helped us think of new ways in which we can check in on each other, and start to focus on really how we can support each of them all through this time.”
One outcome that the test team found was their willingness to support each other with the workload, something that has been lost within the team recently when they moved to remote working.
“Since taking part in Understanding Team Health, there seems to be a lot more willingness in the team to offer themselves up or their time,” explains BT. “People come on the morning call, and somebody will say, ‘I’ve got quite a lot of peer reviews to do today.’ And somebody will reply, ‘Oh, look, I’ve got a half-hour window, I’ll help you out.’
“That seems to have come back. I think we’d lost it a little bit when we first went to remote working, so that’s been good. We’ve also started the weekly team quiz again. We have a twice-weekly quiz for 10 minutes, and that’s brought some laughter back in. I think we got a little bit too focused on the business, which is important, but the quiz is a little bit of downtime, and people are enjoying that.”
How the tool works
As BT has done work around employee engagement before, they were able to put our tool through its paces. We are able to compare how our approach to team culture differs from others.
“It’s the resilience piece that stuck out to me,” says BT, “ and how we can work to become more resilient. The tool showed areas where if we don’t address this, we could start to go downhill. So that was key for me.”
BT also explained how they found the survey part of the tool different from what they’ve previously experienced. As our survey has been designed by psychologists and using the latest research, the team were unsure of what it was going to reveal for them.
The positioning of the tool was also different for the team. Whereas before BT had surveys to talk about what the manager was going to put in place, the Understanding Team Culture approaches this in an alternative way. By using the tool, the BT team saw that they could work better as a team to strengthen areas like resilience.
“It was a really useful experience, and something very different from the services we have used in the past. It was really good to get the team talking to one another, looking at ourselves and how we actually work.”
We have adapted and updated our tool in response to how people work has changed as a result of COVID-19. We ask people to let us know how many days they work from home or the office. This means we can give organisations data on the working situation where scores may differ. This gives us insights into whether wellbeing is at a higher risk in one work setting over another.
A common language
Language patterns emerge when we ask the teams to give us three words to describe their group. These words are then passed to our language expert who feeds back what she can tell about the team. Our language expert has no knowledge of the team other than the words we provide so it is interesting how accurate a picture she gets from this exercise.
BT beta-tested this new adaptation to the tool; they and all organisations who have used this tool found this the most eye-opening part.
You can see an example of the word clouds we use here.
Analysis and outcomes
Part of Understanding Team Health is the analysis of the tool findings by our team of psychologists. This means that alongside the score, you also get work around the outcomes.
For BT, this encouraged deeper communication within the team.
“The tool wasn’t just telling you a score; it encouraged people to talk. What we initially saw was those who dislike silence was quick to get things off their chest. But those who don’t usually speak were encouraged to contribute, and that was nice.
“Our employees see an annual employee engagement score, but the tool shows how the team has scored, and you have a point of comparison. It has a narrative to it, and at the end, you get bubbles of words that are featured the most.
“And I think some were surprised about the words that came up like ‘stressed’ and ‘micromanaged’ because a number of the team don’t feel that way. So it was a surprise to them that some of their colleagues did feel like that.”
The comments were also about the business and lockdown. It was nice to hear because as a manager, you think this is just your job. “
The team at BT have a baseline to work from and so can measure their improvement. They have a roadmap to focus on the areas they need to and have already started the good work of opening the communication channels which allows those who don’t usually have a voice to be able to speak up.
To understand the culture of your team and get focused analyses, you can find out more about our Understanding Team Health tool here where we have a free Team Health Check game that you can test on your team.