Look at Team’s Dashboard Indicators to See How Well It’s Running

Posted by Kristin Arnold on February 27, 2009

How do you measure the health of your team?  Many teams use a set of “dashboard indicators” that let all team members know how well it is doing.  Much like your car has a set of gauges that highlight important functions of a moving automobile, your team should have some basic measures that indicate when all is well — or when all may not be humming along like it should.

Take a look at your team dashboard and fine tune your team’s work:

Clock. Many team are chartered to accomplish a specific result within a specific period of time. The “clock” charts the passing of time, making sure it hits critical milestones.  Permanent teams, on the other hand, have a greater challenge; they get stale over time.  So set the “clock” to arbitrary three-month intervals.  Every three months, the team should get a shot of “vitamin team” by doing something to re-energize and motivate the team.

Gas Gauge. When re-energizing the team, you are stopping to fill up the gas tank.  Keep in mind, re-energizing is a deliberate activity: get training, do something fun, allow people to move on or off the team, redefine the team boundaries, celebrate success, etc.  When the team is low on fuel, make the investment to pull in to a gas station to refuel.

Speedometer. How fast does our team want (or need) to go?  Is there a speed limit?  Are you on cruise control?  Many teams are willing to work at breakneck speeds for short periods of time, but no team can sustain a grueling pace over the long haul.  Or, are you going so slow that traffic is passing you by? Figure out the best pace for your team, given the road conditions, environment and the team’s abilities.

Tachometer. When the team is working too hard, it starts showing signs of stress, moving the needle into the “red zone.”  Teams exhibit stress by snapping at each other, not listening very well, making rash decisions, or making false assumptions.

Temperature Gauge. Conflict is inevitable in teams.  Most teams manage the inevitable conflicts to generate light and not heat around the issue.  However, when conflict is not managed constructively, the temperature gauge moves into the red zone.  Whether stressed or conflicted, pay attention to the behaviors that push the needle into the red zone.

Oil Light. Every team needs a lubricant — a champion within the organization with the clout and political pull to provide resources and support, smooth the potholes and remove roadblocks.  Who is your chief lubricant?  Is your oil light on or off: is that person (or persons) with you or against you?

Brake Light. Every once in a while, the team’s brake light comes on.  Usually this means that the team is at a “strategic moment” where the team is faced with a variety of possible ways to proceed.  Any direction they choose will have a significant impact on the team, and cannot be easily reversed.  When facing a strategic moment, the team needs to stop, make a conscious choice and either proceed or change direction.

Don’t know what your indicators are?  Ask your team for their opinion on how they measure the health of the team.  Let them comment and react to the example, and use it as a springboard to develop your own dashboard and language to point out when the team is venturing into problem territory.  When your team dashboard is in place, periodically check the gauges to ensure your team stays healthy.

Question:  Does your team need a tune-up today?

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