Agility is a key theme in business at the moment. Last month, I wrote about How (and why) to be an agile organisation. This time, we look at the components of an effective agile team, and the role of the leader in enabling agile teams.
Agile teams come together to work on something special, and stay together for a reasonable period of time. They might go on to work on another problem, or develop the idea they’ve come up with. Don’t confuse this with scrum teams. As I explained in my recent article How to get a scrum team up and running, these get in, do the work and disband, so they only stay together for a short time.
In the agile project management framework, a ‘scrum’ is where a cross-functional team comes together for a short time, to plan and build (iterating as they go) until the project is finished. The name is based on the rugby scrum where teammates huddle together to talk tactics and plan their moves, and connects to my recent article How to design an agile organisation.
The advice below refers to project management in its broadest sense – you could apply it to a traditional project, or when a team comes together to look at potential business opportunities or to take a deep dive into another topic.
It’s best used when a small team (say, up to seven people) works on a project full-time. The scrum team would probably be in place for up to six months, so they can go in, blitz it, and get out. Any longer, and a more typical day-to-day operational team approach would apply.
“You can’t be agile when you’re knee-deep in mud.”
When there’s a need to discuss important and complex issues, most people try to meet face to face. Especially with a global team, it’s a really important part of maintaining relationships and commitment to the team and your objectives.
Face-to-face meetings typically get better results, especially when you need to work on something complicated, build commitment to an outcome or to each other, or co-create something such as a vision or mission statement. This is because we’re social creatures – we’re human beings, not human doings! It’s much easier to pick up on each other’s cues and get into the flow when we’re face to face.
However, it’s not always practical for everyone to get together in the same place at the same time. Thanks to technological advances, it is now possible to use video for team meetings, with group conference calls as the next best thing. On those occasions, you might turn to virtual facilitation instead.
Back in 2012, Google conducted some interesting research into team effectiveness. The initiative was named ‘Project Aristotle’ in honour of his famous quote: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts“. This article summarises Google’s findings, and explains some of the simple, clear and practical things you can do with your own teams.
Google’s researchers looked at academic research on team effectiveness, and studied 180 of their own teams. They concluded that understanding and influencing group norms is key to improving team performance – that is, rituals and rules about ‘how things are done in this team’. This was more important, they found, than who was on the team and the team mix (e.g. gender balance, personality type and skill-set).
Change can be difficult because it is often being done TO us rather than WITH us, which drains our energy. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a way to involve as many people as possible in the change process, collaboratively, and in a way that develops the future based on what is already working. This article explores the principles of AI and provides you with some practical tips.
Positive psychology is defined as ‘the scientific study of optimal human functioning, that aims to discover and promote the factors that make people thrive and flourish‘. I’ve recently done a course on this fascinating subject, and have included the most relevant findings below.
When you lead a global team, you can’t have informal conversations in the corridor or over coffee. It’s therefore important to put time and effort into having clear goals and governance and to build good relationships and formal communication channels.
See below for some tips from my experience of working with global teams including two suggestions for further (short!) reading.
Many of my previous articles touch on this month’s topic in various ways, especially ‘The role of the leader‘, ‘Emotionally intelligent teams‘, ‘High performing leadership teams‘ and ‘How to build trust‘.
I hope you find these ideas useful and welcome your feedback.
Last month, we looked at high performing leadership teams. Emotionally intelligent behaviours underpin successful teams – they are the glue that enables teams to consistently achieve their purpose. So, this month, we build on the six main behaviours displayed by emotionally intelligent teams.
As you’ll see, one of the points is about being open to feedback, so I welcome any comments you may have.
High performing teams outperform even the most talented individuals; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. So, this month, we look at the components that make up a high-performing leadership team. They cover what you are trying to accomplish as well as the behaviours that effective leaders exhibit.