Teamwork is at the heart of Agile development. And whether it’s sports or Agile, the role of a coach is to build a team that performs effectively. Instead of pointing fingers when problems arise, an Agile Coach shines a spotlight on the processes in place. The difference can be transformative.
Coaches hold up a mirror and reflect what the team sees, with the goal of helping them figure out how to solve the problems they’re facing. I’ve been an Agile Coach for 13 years and there’s nothing greater than watching that first “A-ha” moment unfold, then quickly start gaining momentum.
If you’re an Agile Coach looking for ways to bring your team together and drive improvements in productivity and happiness, check out these five tips you can do every day:
Collaborate with your Product Owner
- Refine the backlog – Ensure that the backlog is prioritized, and the acceptance criteria are clearly articulated in the User Stories. Have just enough User Stories “Ready” for the team to review, estimate, and pull in.
- Have a clear vision – Work with the Product Owner to ensure that the vision and goals for the team are clear and have been shared with all members.
- Celebrate – Recognize and celebrate wins with your team. Boost morale even amidst periods of rapid transformation. Wins are an opportunity to acknowledge what’s worked and reference for future iterations.
- How is it going? Meet with team members one-on-one. Keep it casual. This is meant to open the door to conversations about team dynamics, the work being performed, or process any questions or concerns
- Identify opportunities – Through one-on-one conversations with team members, you may get a feeling for what changes are needed to boost team performance or morale.
- Close the loop – If you come out of the conversation with action items, be sure to follow-up with that person to close the loop.
- Pay attention – When listening, pay attention to who is not communicating as well as the rest of the team.
- Ask questions – Asking open ended questions invites introspection, allowing for greater creativity and insights. Open ended questions reinforce the idea what you are looking to the team for answers and that you carry no judgement or bias.
- Provide Guidance – Pay attention when a solution is recommended and help guide the team in evaluating and settling on a solution.
- Identify type – Some impediments are internal team issues, and some are caused by forces outside of the team. It’s important to recognize what type of impediment it is so that you know how to move forward.
- Internal – If the impediment is internal, it can be handled within the team. Ask the team for suggestions and allow the team to decide how to resolve it.
- External – For external impediments, it’s helpful for the coach to bubble the issue up. Facilitate conversations amongst those within the system who can help resolve the impediment.
Facilitate effective meetings
- Have an agenda – Start each meeting with a review of the purpose. This will be your North Star and help ensure that the team has a shared idea of what you are looking to accomplish.
- Stay on track – Keep a “parking lot” for ideas or conversations that come up that are not in line with the purpose of this meeting. Add that idea to the parking lot and guide the team back to the purpose.
- Summarize – Close out each meeting by circling back to the purpose. Summarize any action items that have been agreed upon and state the owner (or ask for a volunteer).
Now is the time to get your team energized, performing effectively, and ready to solve problems. We’ve helped plenty of companies, large and small, adopt Agile within their organizations and start making collaboration work.
If you’re interested, shoot us a message! Our Agile experts are eager to share our training experience and ways to help your team perform better together.