Cars require routine maintenance. My current car even alerts me so I know when it’s time to take it in.
I’ve always followed the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. I suspect they are overkill, and I’m probably paying more than I need to, but I like the peace of mind that comes with following the guidelines. They help me believe my car will be reliable, and I won’t end up on the shoulder of a crowded freeway with my hood in the air.
Like cars, work teams require routine maintenance. Without the occasional tune-up, the odds of an untimely breakdown increase. Since your team didn’t come with an owner’s manual to tell you what to do and when, I offer you my list of recommendations.
Check these items constantly
As your team goes about its business, keep your eyes and ears open for signs of wear and tear. The trick is to notice small symptoms before they grow into big problems. Here are some key areas on which to focus your attention:
- Morale and motivation levels
- How people treat each other
- Follow-through on promises
- The amount of initiative people demonstrate
- Feedback from outside the team
- Your own feelings about being on this team
Check these items at every meeting
Most teams meet to communicate and share ideas. There are things to pay attention to during the meeting:
- Amount of participation
- Who is and isn’t participating
- Efficiency of the meeting
- Promptness of start and stop times
- Level of focus
- Sense of energy in the room
Check these items at major milestones
As the team begins to reach some of its goals and milestones, it is a good time to inspect the following:
- Timeliness of completion
- Conformance to standards
- Customer feedback
- Resources consumed
Check these items when the team disbands
If and when the time comes for the team to disband, examine the following:
- Effectiveness of the process
- Insights and key learnings
- Surprises and disappointments
You want your vehicle to be in tip-top shape so that it can perform its function. This requires care. Teams are no different. They require attention and adjustment. If you inspect them regularly and immediately address any problems you discover; your team will wear gently, perform exceptionally, and give you a comfortable ride.