Monday, May 20, 2019

What are the most important interpersonal skills needed for working on an Agile team?

[Dear Readers, I've been having fun on Quora lately participating in community discussions, and reposting responses to my blog.  Enjoy!]

What are the most important interpersonal skills needed for working on an Agile team?

One of the reasons “Agile” has grown so quickly is because companies, especially in IT, were heaping processes and oversight onto knowledge workers so heavily that it caused a backlash. People were anxious to throw off that oppression, and the popularity of agile represented an opportunity to really change - for the first time.

Managers have been preaching about “empowerment” and “pushing decision making down” for decades, but the processes they have been mandating had the opposite affect.

When Agile started to become popular in the early 2000s, it was because people were hungry for an environment that focuses on people over processes, and part of that was an acknowledgment that certain behavioral characteristic were critical towards achieving a vision of empowerment, autonomy, and self-organization.

Some of those characteristics are:
  • Trust people’s good intentions
  • Every interaction is about learning
  • Do what you have to do to please the customer
  • Support your other team members and help them be successful
  • Don’t manage people, collaborate with them
  • Succeed in small increments
  • Be willing to change everything you thought you knew when you learn

So, the interpersonal skills should align with the list above - be a trusting, supportive, and learning team members that doesn’t dig in and insist they know everything. You’ll be fine if you do that!

Jeff Dalton is author of Great Big Agile: An OS for Agile Leaders, and is a CMMI SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, AgileCxO Assessor, and Leadership Coach.

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