Team Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has no symptoms. For many people, the first symptom of undiagnosed high blood pressure is a stroke or a heart attack.
Work teams are no different. Sudden crises in a work team – an erupting conflict, say, or a nasty accusation that throws the group into chaos – are very often the first symptoms of pressure that has been building for some time. Unobserved and often with few or no warning signs, the pressure slowly rises until something blows or pops like an artery. The resulting crisis can seem as though it fell out of a clear blue sky, but in the great majority of cases, it didn’t. Like the slow train in the song, it’s been coming around the curve for some time – if only we could have seen. Looking around that curve is one of your most important jobs as a leader or a responsible team member.
Detecting and monitoring team blood pressure requires regular checkups. Every time you have a periodic visit with your team, no matter what the reason, begin by checking blood pressure – just as your doctor does. Weekly meetings are ideal. Get them to vote anonymously on how they balance across four quadrants – Task pressure (Task), Mental stress (Intellect), Team spirit (Spirit) and their own spirits (Emotion). Stick a piece of paper with four labeled quadrants on top of a cheap dart board and have them stick in one map pin per person to register where they are today on this circular map.
Too many pins in the Task and Intellect quadrant represents dangerously high blood pressure – something in the team is at risk of blowing. Too many pins in the Spirit and Emotion quadrant represents dangerously low blood pressure –the team may be about to coast to a stop. Look for balance around the center and you’ll soon develop good instincts for diagnosing “The Circle”.
Treatment is a different matter and may require qualified help. Avoid herbal remedies, chanting, sacrificing chickens, and charlatans of all kinds. Look for properly qualified specialists who GET YOU RESULTS, not lecturers who want to sell you magic talking and Powerpoint training. Hearing somebody’s well-touted theory on what causes high blood pressure will not help you in any way. Also, beware of “theories” – all different – from people who are trying to sell you something. The only thing that counts is RESULTS – unbiased reports you get from other teams who have used the same approach and got good and lasting outcomes. Referrals are everything and are how you tell the difference between a physician and a fake psychic.
And now of course it’s back to measurement. If you don’t get a sustained and measured return to a healthy team blood pressure, then the treatment was a failure, and that’s that. It makes no difference how beautiful the theory sounded. Move on without regret. Do not give up.
The great majority of teams never check their blood pressure. That’s why so many workplaces are characterized by sudden crises and blowups that demoralize everybody. Just a little bit of science and common sense – measure, treat, measure again – can make all the difference.
Try it and the results may well amaze you.