If a team is like a living body, then each person is part of an intricate immune system. Any member of the team should be able to notice and alert the team to a brewing problem, and the entire team should coordinate to address it. A single concern for one is a worthy concern for all.Every person on a team should be empowered to raise a challenge. All too often, the “veterans” of a team are relied upon for reporting issues. However, the intuition to detect problems is often strongest among the most junior members of a team. If there were a “thermometer” that took the team’s temperature at any given moment, any individual should be able to trigger a concern, and the whole team should be ready to respond.
Our team is experimenting with a little tool we developed to monitors the team’s temperature. It is a small circular status meter with an arrow that can be pushed from “calm” to “super stressed” and anywhere in between. Anyone can change it, and all can see it. When caution is required, we are all signaled to arrange a meeting and discuss it. Who the actual person is who takes the initiative to adjust our “thermometer” is irrelevant. All that matters is whether our team comes together as a result.
When a team catches a cold, candid discussion is the immune system. As your team grows and takes on more dynamic (and thus more stressful projects), consider ways to gauge your team’s temperature and take action when required.