10. February 2020
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A team health check - motivation, sustainable pace and energy

This post shares a simple workshop format, that provides initial transparency on team health and well-being. We will look at individual intrinsic motivation, the pace at which we are working and the energy we have in doing the work. This in turn provides the basis for further opportunities to coach each other with a focus on ongoing self-care.

A team health check – motivation, sustainable pace and energy

Hypothesis: A motivated, healthy, energetic team has a greater probability of creating valuable outcomes!

Have you attained a truly healthy level of trust and openness in your team?

Are you looking for new ways to watch out for one another?

There is no time like the present, for a self-care conversation within your team. It also needs to become an ongoing effort in which we are constantly watching out for one another.

Let’s first take a look at the workshop format.

Workshop flow:

Part One: Revealing the state of health and self-care

1.1 Intrinsic motivators – how well are you living yours?

1.2 Sustainable pace – at what pace are you running at right now?

1.3 Budgeting your energy – what power have you still got in reserve?

Part Two: Identifying patterns and pathways to a healthier position

2.1 Pace and energy intersections – how do the two aspects influence one another?

2.2 Coaching and mentoring – how can you help each other move forward?


Part One: Revealing the state of health and self-care

1.1 Intrinsic motivators 

What motivates you and how well are you living your own intrinsic motivation right now?

Identifying and living out your own personal intrinsic motivators can increase your job satisfaction. It can lead to a sense of ownership, development of the necessary skills to do your job well, as well as providing a clear reason for your efforts.

As a first step each team member considers their top three intrinsic motivators. To guide our conversation we used Jurgen Apello’s moving motivators. Here you have a choice of potential motivators from several studies which Jurgen refined down to ten common denominators to describe motivation.

Ask each team member to write their top three motivators on separate sticky notes – these represent your primary, secondary and tertiary motivators. Then on a scale from one to ten determine how well these motivators are being lived right now. Ten represents fully living a motivator, while one represents little or no opportunity at all to live that motivation.

Now join up in pairs and in a time box of around five minutes each allow the pairs to share their insights with one another.

Questions that may help the conversation include:

What is important about these motivators for you?

How well are you living your intrinsic motivators on the scale of 1 to 10?

What would it take to move one step up the scale?

What would have to change in order to fully live the motivator?

What help do you need to make the changes you have talked about?

Once the pairs have completed sharing ask the team to create new pairings so sharing can continue. Repeat this until everyone has shared with each other, or until you recognize that the group has got what they need from the conversations.

Finally, visualize the result by asking everyone to populate three scales – one 1-10 scale for each of the three primary, secondary and tertiary motivators.

1.2 Sustainable pace

At what pace are you running at right now?

The next step gives everyone the chance to make their own current working pace transparent to one another. It is important that whatever comes out here it is not evaluated. It is what it currently is. If we start to evaluate the situation, we risk negatively impacting the openness and trust within the team.

Ask everyone to consider where they currently are on the scale by asking:

Where would you place yourself on a scale with the two extremes of:

“I am working entirely at a sustainable pace that could continue indefinitely” through to

“I am working at a pace that I must immediately reduce”?

1.3 Budgeting energy levels

Now, alongside the aspect of sustainable pace, comes a personal assessment of the energy level each individual is currently experiencing in their work. This scale runs from high energy through to low energy.

Assess where everyone is on this scale by asking:

Where do you find yourself in terms of the energy available to you on a daily basis – high energy through to low energy?

High energy would mean you are still ready to take on hobbies and other activities after a regular working day. Low energy would mean struggling to even engage in your regular work activities.

Again, all levels between these two extremes are available to the team.

Part Two: Identifying patterns and pathways to a healthier position

2.1 Pace and energy intersections

Once you have this as a group, then ask everyone to visualize their own situation using the two pace and energy axes.

Once this is visualized briefly review as a group to understand where each team member has positioned themselves and let anyone share any clarification they individually want to offer in that moment – optional of course, not a must. Finally, facilitate any questions that arise, as long as these are OK for the person being asked.

2.2 Coaching and mentoring each other to enable positive change

This last step is the most important in terms of identifying realistic next steps for individuals, or for part or all of the team.

We found it was most beneficial if everyone could choose a partner for themselves for discussion at this point. One on one discussions were preferred and offering personal coaching conversations at this point proved to be the most effective approach. If you are less familiar with coaching in your team, then the insights you have gained by this stage could be taken as input for a future coaching session outside of this workshop. You could then continue with someone you more regularly engage with in coaching conversations.

The questions below, adapted from Bamberger – solution oriented consulting (German), could also help the coaching conversation at this stage. The questions below are in the order of increasing depth – cautious first increasing to most challenging. Which one you use as coach depends on where your coachee sees themselves in terms of current pace and energy.

Self guarding – how can you maintain or regain your balance in everything you do?

Self strengthening – how can you care for your internal resources, and keep them ready for use?

Self developing – what is your next step in order to follow your passion?

Self meaning – how can you create more purpose in your daily work?

Self challenging – what is your next experiment that you would like to try out?

In addition, the image below provides guidance on when each question is most fitting, although some questions apply to more than one quadrant.

Closing thoughts

Remember where we started: A healthy, energetic team has a greater probability of creating valuable outcomes!

Even in our own environment – a team of agile coaches – in which we regularly coach each other, we need to be conscious of these health and energy aspects and found it very beneficial to experience this process ourselves.

After answering the three workshop questions ….

How well is the whole team living their own individual intrinsic motivators?

Are we all working at a sustainable pace?

What energy budget do we each have available to us?

we found that we had certain patterns within our teams and could identify improvements for our own personal and team health. It provided a great starting point for coaching and mentoring.

Even if some of your team members are not present you can include them on the sustainability-energy axes by making assessments on their behalf. Taking this circular view helps you stay in touch with others by putting yourself in their position, and creates an opportunity to engage with each other at a later point to validate your perceptions.

The workshop provided us with a format that can be easily repeated from iteration to iteration. Once practiced it can regularly be used as an opener at a retrospective to prompt further insights.

After writing the majority of this blog our team also participated in a workshop in which a similar set of axes were used to better understand burnout prevention. In this case the axes used were:

“intensiveness of work requirements” versus “personal control in carrying out the work”

These correlate well to the “sustainable pace” and “energy” views we took and now provide us with an alternative for the next retrospective in the team.

Why not give this a try for yourself? It provides a great opportunity to build transparency and trust in your team. If you do try it, let me know how it worked out. I hope it will turn out as helpful as it did for us, either when your team is going through a rough patch or as a preventative measure to keep you out of one.

Be sure to pace yourself and keep your personal health and energy up in order to achieve more valuable outcomes!

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