How do you maximise the advantages of team working in today’s world of remote teams, cross-time zone working with multiple native languages and a variety of cultures …. Whilst also taking into account the incredibly fast-paced, competitive, agile environments in which businesses need to operate? Get it right and you’ve won the golden ticket, get it wrong and it’s a long, painful and expensive struggle to correct. Let’s look at agile TEAMS. It’s the T in H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM!
I think I’m on fairly safe ground when I say that, on the whole, teams deliver more within businesses than individuals working alone. Team-working is often associated with:
- Improved motivation and support
- Better accountability
- More creative solutions
- More holistic and equal solutions
- Healthy competition and growth
- Better engagement from a sense of ownership.
More interesting however is how to maximise (or even create) those advantages in today’s complex world of multinational, multi-layered, ‘always-on’ businesses.
Team is part of H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM because people are inherently social animals and working together provides support, learning and shared success. Creating effective, high performing teams in businesses is also a recipe worth spending time perfecting as they deliver more than the sum of their parts.
We all know how agile businesses which can flex and respond to change quickly are often those to win the ‘first to the post’ prizes, or at least are seen as innovative and market-leading. Their lean structures and responsiveness can be the envy of larger, more rigid companies when change needs to take place.
The management and organisation of teams may be a way that larger businesses can inhabit this more fluid world. Agile teams are worth a closer look.
Agile working as a concept has been around for many years and is usually associated with software or digital projects. Agile means that you think more like a start-up, with designing done as close to the customer as possible and with decisions and mistakes analysed quickly and incorporated into the next phase.
How to Create Agile Teams
The US Government has guidelines on how to apply agile methodology to team working. It involves bringing teams together for a short period of time dependent on their skills and those needed for a particular phase of a project.
It is very focused. The project is broken down into packages of work or initiative-based tasks (focused on solving one problem or progressing one idea) and people are then allocated time on these tasks based on their skills.
The aim is that this approach is transparent, with everyone understanding their role in the bigger picture as well as the more focused task at hand. It is also incredibly flexible as these teams can be re-structured or re-prioritised as needs change or problems arise.
There’s also the opportunity to speak to customers, test ideas and respond to market changes in a very direct and iterative way.
By breaking down the departmental silos and getting individuals working together in a task-focused way, much of the office politics can be avoided.
Biggest Hurdle is Company Culture
The challenge to agile teams lies mainly in the company culture.
There must be an acceptance of a completely new ways of working and support given to a more responsive, continually evolving structure, one where the project progress is more important than who does what when.
It’s not necessarily an easy sell and can feel very counter-intuitive to those who have never worked in this way before, but when faced with the ever-changing demands of the modern business world, can we really carry on pretending the rigid, hierarchical structures are the best way?
Ideally the core structures of the business should be reviewed. You need to start thinking about:
- How do you hire people for agile teams?
- What skill sets and attitudes should you be looking for?
- How should pay and incentives be organised?
- How is finance secured and measured?
Step by Step… Try One Project First
It’s possible to test agile working within discrete areas and use them as Lighthouse projects to demonstrate how the process works. This can be useful to identify the main blockers, the potential areas for big wins, the changes needed and the viability of using it on a larger scale.
As part of a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM for employees, having ownership of their work and feeling in control are huge contributing factors to being satisfied and engaged at work. By exploring how agile teams could work in your business, you could win on more than one level.
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