Creating an agile team can be a delicate art, especially in IT. It’s the challenge every IT decision maker faces: How do you pull together a group of tech professionals with different skill sets—not to mention different mind-sets—and bring out the best in each of them? Sometimes, a little extra attention to the softer or more human side of things can go a long way, although it may not come naturally.
However, millennials are disengaged, according to a recent Gallup poll, and a disengaged team is anything but agile. What’s it going to take to master agility and resilience?
1. Honour psychological safety
Psychological safety is a major success factor for an agile team. If your team members don’t feel safe expressing concerns or doubts (or simply taking risks) because they always feel like they’re one step away from the chopping block, you won’t get their best ideas.
If you create an environment where your team feels free to respectfully disagree with one another (even you) and make mistakes they can learn from, you’re more likely to see innovative and creative thinking within the group. When your team gets a confidence boost from having that sense of security, you have a better chance of retaining your best staff. And a close-knit team will become even better at tackling big projects and solving tough problems in the future.
2. Be transparent and vocal
Long before IT was a thing, poor communication wreaked havoc in the business world and beyond. Millennials in particular need good communication to thrive at the workplace. As an IT leader, you owe it to your team to make their goals crystal clear—otherwise, confusion may creep in, resulting in a dip in morale, or worse, an outcome you hadn’t intended. This is especially true if your IT employees telecommute, because effective communication is even more of a challenge in a remote setting.
Make sure everyone is on the same page by spelling out deliverables, due dates, and accountability for each task. Your agile team members want to understand their roles and responsibilities, but they’re also looking for a sense of where they fit in and how they’ll contribute to the team’s success. Once they know the team’s goals and their role in achieving them, they’ll be far better equipped to make a positive impact.
3. Nurture the right skills
If your business is rapidly changing, you’ve got to deploy the right skills to help it meet the next wave of challenges it faces. I don’t mean just tech skills here—many of the abilities your team members will need to have at the ready are considered soft skills. To start with, they need to be fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses. But awareness alone isn’t enough. Each member needs to be actively working on ways to accentuate their strengths while addressing the areas that need improvement.
Those on your team must also be open to feedback from others in the group, which supports strong communication. Beyond that, adaptability in the form of critical thinking is a must. To take on increasingly complex challenges, your agile team must reflect on what it already excels at—and how it can do even better the next time.
4. Remain steadfast when approaching challenges
As we all know too well in IT, it’s not always smooth sailing when you’re trying to get a project off the ground. But, when handled the right way, challenges can be valuable opportunities for group learning and team bonding. Your staff needs to know that roadblocks happen and that you have faith in them to find a solution.
Think of the IT achievement you’re most proud of. Chances are it involved confronting and resolving some sort of challenge along the way, and you came out the other side stronger and smarter as a result. Support your team in tackling difficulties, and you’ll find your team members even more confident and energized once they’ve cracked the code and found the fix.
5. Create a sense of purpose
No team can truly go above and beyond if it doesn’t have a sense of purpose. What’s the mission of IT at your company? What does success look like to you and your agile team, and how do you want to set yourselves apart within the company? While outlining clear goals on a project or task basis, it’s important to have an overarching sense of purpose—the “why” behind what you do—and communicate that to your team. Once your team becomes invested in your collaborative work, you’ll be surprised at just how much you can accomplish together.
With these focuses, your team will be able to create the agility and resiliency needed take on any project that comes its way, enjoying greater satisfaction and fulfillment in the process. So tell us: How are you leading your agile team to success, and what IT heights do you aim to achieve next?