We have a word to say when it refers to communication with, within and without the Agile Team. In my opinion, one of the most important responsibilities of our role as Agile Coaches/Scrum Masters is to assist Agile Teams to perform at the top of their capabilities; by encouraging fluid collaboration and powerful interactions which will lead us to reach the team’s common goal. It seems simple to say it, right? It sounds very concrete and direct but in my experience it`s not that easy to get there. People struggle to communicate ideas, thoughts and opinions to other people. Each one of us has our own beliefs, our own way to observe how the world should work; so being able to properly relate with others, really matters and yes, it requires a lot of work, attitude, courage and I would even say commitment.
So, how do we do it? What do we do to engage people in powerful relationships? What are our options for helping teams to reach their maximum potential, by engaging clear, structured and solution oriented conversations? Who are the key people within the organization that could help the team succeed? How do we assess that the powerful interaction mode is turned on and that the team is truly collaborating? How do we know that the ‘magic’ is happening and something substantial is being built?
Here some of the ideas that I’ve been using, to facilitate powerful, engaged, honest and sincere interactions with and within Agile Teams when communicating:
Use a common vocabulary. I use the Agile Manifesto as the common ground required to communicate properly within the organization. I invite you to try having a conversation with line mangers, stakeholders and the Agile Team about the meaning of the four (4) values and the twelve (12) principles described in the Agile Manifesto, in order to establish what Agile means to everybody and start with that.
Identify key players. Communication is an art; it requires several skills to do it properly. So help your Agile Team with identifying those key players within the organization that will help the team succeed and keep them closely involved. I always invite them to participate during team ceremonies (Sprint reviews, Product Backlog Refining, team celebrations, etc.). I have found that by creating this boundary, the team has built better relationships and has embraced the sense of responsibility; which is so important and a key requirement when building self-organized teams.
Prepare your communications. I have found that by helping leaders within the organization with preparing communications that we have better results with teams. I use a tool, that I learned during the Lyssa Adkins Facilitation Class, called ‘POWER’ (Purpose, Outcomes, What is in it for me, Engagement mechanisms, and Roles & Responsibilities). Before each meeting that I facilitate, I will spend a couple of minutes with the leader to identify the ‘POWER’ that will be used to inspire people in the room.
Honest and sincere. Being honest and sincere with my teams has helped me with establishing a relationship of trust that has lasted. Even during the toughest moments; being sincere, honest and available for them, has been the key to moving forward.
Believe 200% in the team’s potential to succeed. Showing that I trust the team, by saying it, and being sincere has worked for me. Using phrases like, “Guys you are the specialists here, so tell us, what you would recommend in this specific situation”, has helped me and the team to increase our level of self-confidence. Asking their opinion about everything by using open ended powerful questions like those suggested by Lyssa Adkins here, has also worked for me.
Important here: By observing attentively, I try hard to choose the right moment to challenge them when working; by asking permission to interrupt their workflow.
Help with clarifying intentions. I`ve seen that by helping the team with clarifying, “What” we want to do and “Why” we are doing it right now, has added another dimension to the conversation and helps the team to get used to challenging the status quo.
Listen carefully. One of the most powerful relationships that I`ve found is profound and active listening. Being present for the other person and listening to what they want to say matters; up to the point that it could transform the way that we relate with our world. So give yourself permission to care about others by listening, and I can tell you that you will connect with them at unexpected levels that could surprise you.
Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts about what works for you.
I wish you all the best.
- Featured Image from TED speakers explore the power of how we communicate. Thinkstock