5 Simple Tips to Help Your Agile Team Succeed
You have adopted the agile methodology but your projects are still failing, leaving the team frustrated and unmotivated. You may blame it all on the approach you’ve chosen but what if agile is not the problem? What if the problem is in your management style?
Many PMs see agile as a radical style of leadership because instead of the traditional command-and-control system, it emphasises independence and autonomy. Project managers have to deal with a totally different mindset and let go of almost everything they’ve learned. This means educating yourself as well as educating your team on agile values and best practices.
The problems arise when companies move to agile without understanding its principles and as a result, they completely undermine what they’re trying to completely. The key is to ‘be agile’ instead of just ‘doing agile’. You need to focus on people (vs processes), creativity and trust (vs control) – otherwise, agile is never going to work for you.
So what can you do as a project manager to help your agile team be productive and engaged?
Tip 1: Create the atmosphere of trust
A manager is a person who connects the senior management and the team. As a PM, you’re responsible for building mutually beneficial relationships for each side. Prioritise personal connections and make sure every stakeholder is heard and respected. This is a must if you want to create the right working atmosphere where your team can grow and flourish.
Tip 2: Listen to both sides
As a PM, you should dig deeply to get a better understanding of what problems and obstacles are bothering both sides – the team and the senior management. PMs often focus only on the team, forgetting that the senior executives also have to deal with stress and anxiety when transitioning to agile.
For instance, many senior managers are afraid to let go and give team members space to decide on their own and work effectively. They are also afraid to ask questions because they don’t want to be seen as ‘weak’. These fears cause a lot of problems and may lead to poor management decisions.
Talk to your stakeholders, discuss their fears and work together to eliminate destructive beliefs.
Tip 3: Identify and remove obstacles
Be always there for your team and ask for feedback to know what’s blocking their progress and how you can help remove these obstacles. Keep in mind that these barriers can be related not only to project activities but also to people.
For example, some of your team members may feel frustrated during daily meetings and hold back from expressing their opinion. This happens not because they lack interest or intelligence but because they are introverts who are too anxious to voice their opinion in public. As a solution to this obstacle, you can ask these people to share ideas before the meeting starts or send them via email. This is how they can contribute without stressing themselves out with public speaking.
Tip 4: Education is a must
Make sure the development team and the senior management are clear about the benefits of agile. If necessary, hire an agile coach or invite speakers who can share success stories and present case studies that demonstrate positive outcomes of the agile adoption for similar companies.
Tip 5: Mentoring
Mentoring is the best way to better understand agile practices and get all the benefits of this methodology. This will help you let go of outdated management structures and make more conscious decisions based on trust and collaboration.