Thursday, April 30, 2009

Can you make it right for everybody?

Yes, you can try as hard as you want. Don't we all try to provide an environment that allows people to grow and be their best professionally?

I think this is an important ingredient for a high-performing team. There are limits, however. For instance if you have a team member who isn't particularly keen to actively support changes. Not that I would be surprised by that. People have different personalities and while most are fine with change for a good reason occasionally there are people who resist all kind of change since they may have different preferences and experiences. And that's fine.

If you have a team member with an excellent skill set and huge amount of knowledge and experience that's fantastic. But what if that very person isn't able to proactively work with other team members to help them becoming better as well? What if you have a team member who doesn't attend the first daily stand-up meeting (aka daily Scrum) and comes in late once the meeting is over? What if on day two the same person comes in late but doesn't join the Scrum although it is still on? What if on day three the person is in the Scrum but doesn't participate actively? What if on top of that you observe that it even seems to have a negative impact on the rest of the team?

I think at some point you need to consider your options. Having one-on-one's for coaching is important and helps in most cases. Attempting to consider individual preferences is good, too. But once the overall team performance is affected, you need to act. And don't let anyone hold you hostage. As a leader and coach you need to keep in mind the future of the entire team and the project and objectives the whole team is working on.

An agile environment is not for everybody. There are organizations that work differently and it seems to work for them. Based on my experiences, however, I believe that agile principles work better if properly applied. In some cases this could mean that you may have an individual on your team who has a different perspective, and you should be prepared for that individual moving on. That's just fair and part of the overall change process for the team (and in fact for that individual, too!). Both the individual and the team are most likely better of.

If you have tried everything you can think of and still it doesn't work out, don't feel like a complete failure. You are not! Think of your team and about where you want to take them. And then adapt and move forward. Don't look back unless you want to learn from the past!


anna said...

hey.. thanks for good writings. My readings in between the lines are that you have to focus even more on the values in both your organisations and in your team. Values shapes performance and it is not acceptable to live your own values and do as you like. Thekey is to committ to a team value house, and evaluate the living of the values. Value work - attitudes and behaviours will be some of the keys to succeed in an agile organisation. TO me it is very much of a mindset, and how the overall management will support an agile leadership and envrionment.

Thanks again. I like your blog.

Manfred said...

Anna, thank you for your kind words! I totally agree that values and principles are key. Although there are values that are shared by many people in an agile environment you may find people with different value systems and different principles. That by itself is not right or wrong. Different environments have different value systems and not all people feel comfortable with a particular value system. Diversity is good and I think the important point is that people should have both the possibility to stay and the right to move on to find a place that suits them better. Thank you for your comment! Manfred.

DNMurphy said...

Very wise comments, no one should be or be considered to be indispensable and when managing a team or project its the overall goals that must be uppermost. One genius in a team who disrupts the others by prima donna attitudes undermines the whole team no matter how good they are.

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