My previous client's experience is quite enjoyable: this client has been trying to find ways to improve the efficiency of his project team. And he has made many attempts, such as performance incentives or internal assessment, but the results are not very significant. During our chat, I found that his project team has a significant drawback: the team members are unstable; that is, the project team members will be transferred at a particular time. There are still many problems like this in the team, so if you want to set up an agile team, you should pay attention to the following methods:
1. Team Building Should be Cross-Functional and Stable
A typical team can be divided according to the functional roles. Before each project starts, a portion of the team's personnel is selected among the various teams to form this project team. Then the project team members return to their respective teams after completing the project. Therefore, this unstable membership change can greatly affect the project's progress. At the beginning of each project, it also means that some people need to running-in with each other. The project is over again when everyone knows each other. In this case, the personnel turnover rate is high, so the efficiency is not high. Therefore, agile teams first need to meet the "stability" item, and the team members will not have a large change, which will avoid increasing communication and collaboration costs.
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Secondly, agile teams should be cross-functional. Agile teams are composed of many people from different functional areas. The most important feature of such a team is that the team members not only come from multiple functional areas but also can play multiple roles so that when staff changes or uncontrollable events are occurring in the team, someone can be ready to take over the vacant functions. In other words, problems such as available vacancies, time constraints, and slow project progress can be coordinated and solved within the team.
2. Selecting T-shaped Talents
T-shaped talents refer to a new type of talent distinguished by knowledge structure. The "—" indicates that such talent has a wide range of knowledge, and the "|" indicates the depth of knowledge possessed by the talent. In short, T-shaped talents can not only specialize in their profession but also dabble in others' professions.
Here we should avoid a misunderstanding: not all members of cross-functional teams are proficient in various skills. After all, the cost of learning is enormous. And making every member of the team proficient in all skills is essentially an impossible task.
Image Source: IT Masters Mag
3. Getting to Know the Team Members
In addition to managing processes, it is more important for managers to manage people. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and agile team members are no exception. As a team manager, you need to clearly understand your team members' strengths and weaknesses to assign tasks better to facilitate successful project delivery.
4. Promoting Effective Collaboration and Communication
There are many forms of communication between teams: emotional venting, text/online communication, face-to-face communication, and body language ... So how can we collaborate and communicate effectively? You can use the following ways：
- Listening patiently: listening is the premise of communication. And the form of "listening-understanding-feedback" can better help communication and collaboration among members.
- Communication frequently: for example, communicate your work progress through the daily station meetings; Shorten the communication distance through a centralized office; Reduce communication costs through face-to-face communication.
- Collaboration tools: Through collaboration management tools such as ZenTao, you can visualize the work progress of team members and promote efficient collaboration.
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5. Agile teams should maintain goal orientation
Turning agile teams to goal orientation means that the whole team has to keep highly focused on their goal at all times. At this time, we should pay attention to the initiative and consciousness of employees. And we can consider achieving goal orientation through OKR: shifting team members' focus to the goal that the team is trying to achieve by setting goals and demonstrating a series of key results.
6. Embracing a Culture of Positive Feedback and Self-Management
We should encourage team members to actively identify and give feedback on issues in the iteration and establish an awareness of positive feedback and improvement. Without the participation of management, agile teams can also control the overall progress through self-organization and self-planning. At the review meeting, the agile team can collect phased feedback and constructive opinions in various forms and adjust the direction and plan of the next iteration in time.
7. Promoting Team Members to Learn from Their Mistakes
We should encourage team members to grow through failure. Agile teams are not perfect or infallible teams, but agile teams encourage everyone to try and learn from their mistakes constantly.
This does not emphasize trial and error on the basis of no rules. Agile teams need to define some simple rules first, such as: setting a goal for each iteration to deliver a certain product increment; Adding daily station meetings to synchronize work progress; Carrying out iteration review meetings, etc. Based on this simple rule, the team can identify and remove obstacles, improve their working method faster, and respond more quickly to the feedback they get from their work.
Building an agile team is a complex process. I hope the above methods can reduce the obstacles you encounter in building an agile team.