Posted on July 22, 2014 · Posted in Agile, Communication, Education, Leadership, Management, Project Management

It has been said that behind every successful agile team is a good team manager. A manager, who not only performs within his functions but also goes the extra mile for his team members without leaving anyone behind, is one of the keys. If you are a manager who thinks what you do is already enough –think again. As times and trends change, so are your people. And as far as success is concerned, team management practices should be evolving from time to time to achieve the best results yet.

Here we give you some tips how to effectively manage an agile team.

Image from Flickr, Creative Commons


1) Constant communication is key

When we say constant, we mean constant. Communication perhaps is in the vocabulary of every management guide for agile team. Consultant Johanna Rothman suggests that managers must conduct biweekly one-on-one meetings with the team and provide constant feedback and coaching: a feedback how to give feedback and coaching how to give coaching. This way, each team member becomes an alpha of a certain workflow or an effective subject matter expert with minimum supervision from you.


2) Think small and agile

One indicator of an agile team’s success is size, and there is a right size for every team, which is usually smaller. You might want to follow what works for Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in agile management: the “two-pizza rule”. If it takes more than two pizzas to feed the team, the team is likely too big. A dozen or fewer people are more likely to care for each other, as the area is more focused and concentrated. If you are managing a big group, you might want to break it into smaller units for easier management. Note that this is not to divide the team, but to make sure each team member is being prioritized and valued.


3) Healthy work ecosystem

Know what works for your agile team. Does each team member have a certain working style that is not in accordance with the company policy? Do they function well in a certain time of day that will be fit for them to work? It is necessary to make adjustments in your team management practices so that you and your team can meet halfway.


4) Provide a career development

Your team is your business, and of course you want that business to grow. As a manager, managing an agile team involves mapping out a career plan for each member so they know how to achieve their goals and direct them towards the direction their careers are heading.

One way to reinforce this resolve is to encourage team members to come up with a project management initiative. What part of their work needs improvement? What problems arise within the process, organization, or themselves that need intervention? You might want to look at six sigma initiatives to aid your project management.


5) Measure performance

You may ask yourself: how good is good enough? A key to a successful agile team management is to have the numbers to back up that your agile team is indeed performing. That is why it is important that you come up with a metric that will measure your team’s performance as against to your time target. You might also want to set a standard as to how good is good enough, how bad is bad enough. This way, you can monitor if your team is progressing or spot the gray area where they need improvement.


6) Think like a content marketer

Managing a team can be like content marketing, where you analyze all sides of the business in order to come up with an effective strategy: social media promotion, good keyword targets, catchy headlines, and its other components. Managers might want to channel their inner Freud and utilize his psychoanalytic approach when it comes to a successful agile team management: the id, the ego, and the superego.

The id would be for the team to deliver outputs with the least use of resources –less time, less cost, but high quality deliverables. The ego component would be more realistic –differences among team members, appropriate management style of the manager, needs being met (salary, benefits, etc) and utilization of different skills, among many other things. Last but not the least, is the superego part— that aims for perfection: sustenance of the business, consistency in team performance, and good relationships with the customers.


7) Supplier Management and Outsourcing

In relation to number 6, you must have a panoramic view of the business and put your team in the perspective of the customers and stockholders. Does your agile team supply the demand? Do you deliver high quality outputs? Are your customers satisfied? Will they come to your company again? Not only your team is your business, but your customers, too. Putting this to your perspective will help you realign your strategic plans for a successful agile team management.

Managing styles can differ from person to person. But the key to a successful agile team management is a manager’s determination and dedication to bring out the best in his team members and make sure no one gets left behind.

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