The majority of my time so far as Head of Engineering has been spent looking at the team’s health. Team health is a broad term, as it encompasses more than “is the team doing okay?”. At a minimum, it means, are people on the team engaged and happy, right through to, are there processes and documentation in place to support them in the day-to-day process of delivering software.
Managers tend to spend a lot of their time looking at just the output of their team. Are we delivering? How can we deliver faster? How can we write better code? etc. But unless you have your underlying team health in order, this is the wrong thing to be thinking about.
If you’re the coach of a football team, the aim of the team is to score goals and win matches. So you could spend all your time focusing on drills, improving core skills, and practising shots. But what if all the players on the team are sick or injured? All the will in the world won’t win you the championship if no one is in good shape. You need to let your players rest and recover before you focus on their skills and scoring. The health of the team underpins everything about the output of the team.