Updated: Dec 30, 2021
We are in a fast-changing world! New technologies arising, changing customers’ needs and values; and the likes require providers to adapt fast and grow their market reach. We see new cellphone models being released in less than a year, whatever you have right now can be outdated very fast. Big companies are racing fast to gain dominance. A number of start-ups are rising giving way to new ideas and strategies that might define the future of what we are doing.
We heard the term “agile” or “agility” not only in the IT world but to a number of industries. Merriam-Webster defined “agile” as “marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace” or “having a quick resourceful and adaptable character”. The key here is being adaptable to the changes happening.
Focusing on the IT software development, a group of people came up with the Agile Manifesto and Principles (reference: https://agilemanifesto.org/):
Looking at the manifesto, 3 out of 4 are relating to people and how people collaborate, interact and respond. Agile gives emphasis to individuals, interaction, collaboration, working software and responding to change over processes and tools, documentations, contract negotiation and following a plan. Although, there is value in the latter, value is given more to the former.
In the Agile principles, we also see how a quarter of it refers to people and how the team can work together – business people and developers must work together, having motivated individuals, self-organizing teams and team reflection.
And this is where understanding individual’s talents and strengths and their unique contributions to the team – commonly known as strengths – comes in , alongside with focusing on what is right, what he/she and the team naturally do best and focusing on the value. To learn more about Strengths, click here.
Whether you are forming an agile team or a standard team, the team undergoes what we called the stages of team development. The most common stages of team development is devised by Bruce Tuckman. Embedding strengths into this model decreases the length of time to bring your team from one stage to another. To get a glimpse on how strengths help in developing your team, you can refer here.
Now that you familiarize yourself on how Strengths put value to individuals and to your team, it’s time to put them into practice by applying these tips to your agile team!
Tip #1: Introduce Strengths
To be able to value individuals, you need to give them tools that will help them discover, understand and apply their greatest talents and strengths in the workplace. Tapping into the strengths and talents of individuals increases their motivation and creates an environment that supports their needs and works in trust.
The tool that is globally recognized to identify strengths and talents is CliftonStrengths.
Tip #2: Manage backlogs using their strengths profile
As much as possible, manage the backlogs according to their strengths and talents. If this is not possible, ensure that the value is aligned and support is given to the individual in order for him/her to excellently work in a task that is outside of his strengths. Also, encourage him/her to explore on ways given his strengths to accomplish tasks. This is a good way for the individual to grow and extend his limits.
Tip #3: Embed Strengths-related questions in your regular stand-up
You can embed strengths-related questions in your regular stand-up meeting, not necessarily daily. You can start possibly bi-weekly or weekly depending on the need of the team.
The goal is for the team to share their personal insights and tapping into this area builds trust resulting to better collaboration. When you care of their personal insights as well as their talents and strengths and their unique contribution to the team, it increases motivation of the individual and the team.
This is also a better way to understand how they feel, think and behave in certain situations and come up with ways on how to turn these to become more effective!
Some strengths-related questions that you can use. Be creative with your questions and have your team members explore and contribute further to make them more efficient.
What are your highs? What are the strengths that has been satisfied by these activities?
What are your lows? What are the strengths that has not been given attention by these activities?
What is/are new insight(s) you discover about yourself? How do you think this can contribute to the goal(s) of the team?
What are the activities you want to further explore?
What are the conflicts that we encounter? What are the strengths that clash and what do you think are the ways we can do differently to resolve this kind of conflicts?
How does the team collaborate to accomplish our goals for this week? What are the team’s strengths at work?
Tip #4: Get a Coach
Coach can help you and your team to get the best out of you! The coach journeys with you to understand the unique talents and strengths of individuals and your team and on how he/she will be able to guide you unleash the power of their strengths to increase collaboration, deliver quality product, respond to change, resolve conflicts among others.
Tip #5: Celebrate success
Celebrate small wins! It can be weekly and have at least 30 minutes to get together with the team – recognizing their contributions and hang-out together – even virtually!
The more engaged the team is and the more they are recognized, the more that they will be motivated!
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