An intro to team health metrics. Or why weren't we tracking this earlier?

Posted by David Shanley on Wed, Jan 27, 2016

tl;dr By asking our team a set of simple team health questions, we've unlocked deeper understanding and better retrospectives.


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Your team is a product manager's most important asset in building great products that customers love. If they weren't being set up for success, wouldn't you make sure they were? And if there were gaps in how they thought they were doing versus how they were actually doing, wouldn't you dive in to help?

We asked ourselves those same questions after we saw a couple of our previous teams struggle with point estimation. And after too many ineffective retrospectives. Rolling out team metrics for team health changed all of that.

We built upon earlier work of Jeff Sutherland and his team happiness metric to key into areas that addressed concerns for our teams: story readiness, communication, estimation, delivery and team morale.

Team Metrics Polling with Notion

 

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As an example, at the end of each sprint we now ask the team questions like “How accurate were we at estimating level of effort for the work we delivered?” Team members answer with a simple rating scale of 1 to 10, 1 being Not Accurate and 10 being Accurate.

By asking these simple questions around qualitative areas, as agile product owners, we gained an entirely new data driven framework around the team’s viewpoint. Pairing this new data with our team metrics like velocity, throughput, and bugs, we saw meaningful correlations emerge.

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Throughput down? Well, we saw a drop off in estimation and communication, but not a drop in story readiness—it's time to work with the team on correctly sizing tasks and making sure everyone is aligned and talking about how to achieve our sprint objectives.

Delivery and team morale down? Then we ask ourselves if we are communicating the roadmap effectively and keep an eye out for a dip in quality.

Another benefit from KPI tracking your team health metrics is that our retrospectives are much more focused with conversations at the right level with a clear path to action. And if you have quiet voices in your group, collecting the data anonymously can elevate their voices and enroll and engage their help in improving the team.

We've since evolved what we ask and now have added quality, confidence, productivity, and roadmap excitement. We’ve also seen our customers roll out similar implementations using our Team Polling feature.

To get started, you simply need to answer one question: What team metrics matter most to your team's success?

We’d love to hear them or help you get started.

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