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Sir, please step away from the team

Picture by AndyWilsonIn conversations with upper management, I often hear that they wish to start using an Agile approach to increase their return on investment (ROI) and the employee motivation – which is great! They have read or have been told that changing their approach should lead to:

  • Delivering solutions that meet the business needs…
  • …without exceeding time lines or costs and…
  • …increase efficiency and productivity.

Many people manager (although not all) understand that people are more motivated when they are self organized and as such, take their commitments more seriously than if the commitments were made by others on their behalf (i.e. their manager).

What is news to many of these managers is the impact an Agile transition will have on them – and their management style. I like to point out that to them that:

  • Teams and individuals are more productive when they are not interrupted;
  • Team performance improves greatly when people settle their own issues;
  • Changes in the composition of the team affect the team’s productivity.

As such, people manager need to learn to:

  • Transfer the authority and the responsibility to the team members to allow them to do their job properly;
  • Avoid interference and micromanagement;
  • Promote collaboration and teamwork;
  • Support learning without systematically penalizing failures;
  • Establish a culture conducive to Agile projects;
  • Adapt their management style to the context of team.

Overall, they must learn to change their management style from a command-and-control approach to a servant leadership style.

Easier said than done – that’s where the Agile Organizational Coach steps in.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Well said Martin. Yet so many things get in the way:
    – Protection of power
    – Resistance to change from fear
    – Resistance to change from ignorance
    – Unwillingness of the people manager to put their reputation on the line
    – Resistance to change from lack of proof (the catch 22)

    May 31, 2010
    • Indeed, you are absolutely right Bob! That’s what makes the job of the Organizational Coach so interesting. What you point out is especially true as you deal with upper management.

      I’m actually working on another post (to be published in June) that speaks to the resistance your mentioned.

      Thanks for your comment.

      May 31, 2010

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