Agile Managers- what should you do?

Aug 19, 2013 | |
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.”  -Lao Tzu

Simple things create the greatest impact. As Agile Managers, the goal is to ensure your team is groomed, mentored and ready to take up any challenges.

To do so, you also have to lead by example- you should be able to:

  • Inspire
  • Be supportive
  • Be empathetic
  • Be honest
  • Be objective

So, your focus is always to keep the team out of crisis so they can function at their optimum velocity.  Deming in his “14 action point guide” points at how one can get anyone out of the crisis mode. If you look at them, the main things to consider would be:

  • Creating constancy of purpose- it’s important during any time or during any transformation process to let your team know about the purpose and why what is happening. This avoids the most important confusion of team members being insecure, going through a loss of direction and not being comfortable with the change. 
  • Improve constantly- managers role is crucial here in keeping the theme of improvement going always. If you can inspire them in a one of a kind way, it has to be by dispersing the common message that every team member collectively has to improve. You can measure improve in various ways- by seeing team velocity, by seeing quality of the deliverable, seeing the team dynamics or seeing the happiness index of teams. 
  • Drive out fear- encourage people to express freely in your organization and team. Even if the feedback is negative- against the process, against the team or may be against you- it allows you to know the reality. You can only know how to respond to and what strategy to implement if you know the genuine problem. 
  • Remove barriers that that rob people of their pride to workmanship- inspiration for any work when intrinsic is way more productive than when its extrinsic. If you can find out what motivates them, what keeps them going, it’s just way easier to know their intrinsic motivation. I have worked with teams, who at some point got bored with the same kind of user stories in their backlog and wanted a change. In such situations just ask what they would like to work n, or what motivated them, One team wanted to take more risks at their work because they thought otherwise it gets boring; they did risk in one of the sprints against their committed stories and still finished really well.  The team member just find it motivating enough. 
  • Recognition for their efforts for some is very important- just by simply saying  a ”thank you” or recognizing them during daily stand ups is enough to keep them happy and it doesn't take a lot of time or money! This point actually came up in one of my happiness index surveys with a team and since then I have always tried to recognize members for their efforts, no matter how small they are! So, during retrospectives, we make a point that the team thanks other team members by simply writing n sticky notes about them and then we tack it in the cubicle walls. 
  • Put everyone to work- because transformation is everyone’s job; especially if you have adopted agile very recently. No one should feel that their part is for granted or not important. Keeping everyone involved is the most tricky part when going through transformation. And this is something only managers can do. You can work with your Agile consultant/coach on these scenarios, however you have to make the final call.  As a manager you have to let everyone now how they can be involved, contribute actively and help management make decisions.  
(Pic courtesy: Google Images)


Unknown said...

I always enjoy your articles. They are informative. Can't wait to read the next one. :)

Amani Phoenix said...

nice post