Facilitated my first "Spotify" team health check - with a semi-remote team!

As part of bringing the (remote) teams together, we're going to try 'team health checks' a la Spotify-style.  The goal is threefold:
  1. Provide a venue for teams to communicate together, a safe forum to let their voice be heard.
  2. Provide senior leadership with a "safe" dataset that gives them 'the feeling' of the team
  3. Provide action items to address the low points
The initial team meeting to present the concept went well - everyone seemed genuinely interested, and a few team members had done similar things with previous employers.

So today was the first health check...here's how it went down...

We asked the team members to review the list of topics (cards) before the meeting, and this was the agenda (2-hour time slot):
  • Start the meeting focusing on my role as facilitator
  • Go through each topic - any we want to remove?
  • Go through them again, but vote and discuss vote results
  • Look at the results, pick focus area(s)
  • Determine action items
  • Was this worthwhile?
The 2-hour timeslot was just enough time (started 4m late, finished 7m early), and I think with the modifications below would be adequate.
  1. I reiterated the goals of the meeting
    1. Conversation between the team members was the primary value
    2. The subjective data generated was also primary, but to people outside the team (senior leadership)
    3. Action items were the secondary value items
  2. This step of reviewing the topics - I won't do that again - the act of explaining the topics/presenting differing views fueled conversation that I think is best done all at once
  3. Going through the topic list (the remote folks had the powerpoint screen shared - I had the card data displayed) generated only a few comments at first...but very soon the majority of the team was participating.
    1. Everyone took a moment to read and think, then voted.
    2. We used Slack to vote.  The team has a private (dev/qa only) channel (safety zone), so one team member entered the topic as a message, and then everyone 'voted' using red/yellow/green hearts (only emoticon that had all colours).
    3. I tallied the votes on the whiteboard in a grid as the team members started throwing out comments like, "I voted red because...", or "I voted green because...".
    4. Once the comments dried up, we moved on.
    5. I tried to keep my input to a minimum.
  4. When we reviewed the results, there were 3 items almost tied for "last place" - the "worst" of these was picked as the thing to discuss.  Unfortunately we were at the 90 minute mark by this point.
  5. It was a large problem, so we threw out some ideas and generated some high-level action items and owners.  Really, the action item was 'gather more data, and we'll meet again to form action items'.  Better than nothing!
As we were wrapping up, I asked them to vote (same red/yellow/green) on whether or not the team members found the meeting useful.  Hands down all green!  Probably would have been better to have them vote later on without me in the room? (however in earlier meetings I made it clear that if it wasn't useful we'd not continue)

So my takeaways...
  1. "I've never done this before" was my main concern, but now I feel that even a "bad" health check would reveal a lot to the team about themselves - this process is worth doing regardless of how "well" you think it will go
  2. I learned SO MUCH about team perspectives/perceptions, and really felt like this was a big step in me stretching my own boundaries
  3. I learned SO MUCH about different ways to look at problems/situations - for example, the learning topic:  You can learn stuff for yourself (active self-improvement), the knowledge of others around you (absorption), from specific projects (exposure to different tech/products), etc.  (before I only thought of it as "books/articles (self) or teaching (courses)"


  1. As an update, we just did a fully-remote team health check, and it was equally excellent. The only change was that I tried to get everyone to follow the 'if you're talking, on camera' rule.

    I believe part of the success lies in the 'honeymoon effect', i.e. people are so relieved to have the opportunity that their impressions are favourably coloured, so will be interesting to see how it pans out in future.


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