An Agile team is really an asset for any company to have. A “team” in the Agile sense is a small group of people, assigned to the same project or effort, nearly all of them on a full-time basis. It goes a little deeper than this, as they really have to work well together to be a high performing team.
It takes motivated workers who strive towards unity and customer satisfaction (even if the “customer” is their own company for an internal project), to continually come out on top. Understanding their purpose, sharing a passion, and not accepting anything less than their best are all important for these teams to produce quality work, in good time.
Here are our five ways to be a high performing distributed agile team!
Communication is Key
This goes for any team, but especially, agile teams. Great communication is important in a team environment. If an agile team is lacking in this department, projects can break down really quickly, and relationships can strain under the stress of not knowing what’s going on. But really, this is a key facet in any good business. They need to share where they are in the project, and what their next steps will be.
People also need to share what they need to do their job better, what meetings they need to gather requirements, and what may be holding them up from progress. It’s important to alert others and project managers of roadblocks so that they can help keep the project moving forward as much as possible.
- Define Expectations. As a team, rules and boundaries should be established early on. Everyone should know what is expected at the daily stand up, and how updates should be communicated. Not only that, but important goals and milestones should be laid out clearly, supported by time frames so everyone is on the same page.
- Teams need to do their best to limit what is called “scope creep”, where projects start to grow outside of the original tasks at hand, due to eager stakeholders. This can be done by politely reminding those with a continually growing wish list that they can place those ideas in a “parking lot” table for future assessment.
- Be Visible. This is somewhat of an understatement, but everything should be visible about agile team members. For some, this means face to face meetings, but it also means to make yourself visible in the project. Speak up in meetings, share your thoughts on how progress is or is not going, and make sure everyone knows how your tasks are coming along.
- Flowers and candy make for great surprises, however, finding out your team member won’t finish their assignment and realizing it causes you additional delays on yours, is not.
- Use Kanban boards and other methods to ensure you can see where progress stands and can monitor a time lapse, as well. Be sure to use dates to mark the start and estimated finish of these tasks.
- Cross functional. A great agile team is actually pretty versatile. Different perspectives provide a variety of angles that those who think alike, or have identical work experiences can’t really offer.
- A team made up of various departments also tends to provide well rounded solutions that can support different needs of the company, and not ones that lean in favor of just one group.
- The solutions that come from a conglomerate of work experience tend to be malleable as companies change and grow, and don’t make other departments feel ignored or left out.
- Be Unified. Ever been on a team where everyone had their own agenda? Whether it was a kid’s soccer team, or a corporate sales team, it’s safe to say a team where everyone did their own thing never really made it very far.
- A team must be unified to be successful, striving towards the same goal. Many think a team is just a collection of people that work under a specific manager, but that’s not necessarily the case. If they’re off doing their own work, for their own agenda, or not communicating effectively, not only does the project suffer, but so do the relationships. Moving forward, together, is the key to hitting deadlines, and delivering quality work.
High performing teams need a few basic qualities to make sure they’re churning out quality work, but boy, are they big ones!
It seems obvious, but many teams still need improvements in these areas in order to increase their productivity and teamwork. If you’re not there yet, keep working – small improvements have a big impact.