Agile is built on mindset, so there’s a real danger that when things get stale that your Agile processes can become less effective. That’s why keeping an Agile team inspired and happy is key to keeping it functioning well.
But as we all know, inspiration is much easier to talk about than to actually provide. So what can you do to genuinely inspire your Agile team in 2023? We’ve put together 7 tips based on our extensive experience both leading and being in Agile teams.
Start by Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse
Trying to inspire and lead an Agile team without a clear idea of what’s going on is like a doctor trying to treat a patient they’ve never seen. You have to know what challenges your team members are facing. Fortunately, Agile retrospectives are tailor-made for exactly that.
Retros allow you to keep on top of team sentiment and flag potential issues. Done right, they can even be inspirational themselves, generating ideas for improvement and showing team members that they are being listened to. After all, you can try all the inspirational activities in the world, but they won’t make your team happy if there are very real work issues you are not addressing. For example: Are your workloads balanced? Are people feeling meetings like daily standups aren’t useful in their current form, etc?
Get Back to Basics
Fortunately, the fundamentals of Agile are designed to keep teams inspired and content. Setting clear goals, empowering instead of micromanaging, trusting, etc. are all important ways to keep teams inspired and productive.
So when you’re struggling, try reviewing the Agile manifesto and principles for your function and asking yourself whether you might be drifting away from any of them. Sometimes all that’s required to get teams back on track is getting back to Agile fundamentals.
At times, this can even be a specific rotating role called a “flow manager.” This person is in charge of ensuring work flows smoothly and bottlenecks are quickly resolved. By changing who operates as the flow manager every week or two, no one feels they have an undue burden and each team member gets better insights into how work functions.
Try Varying Your Activities
For most people, even their favorite food, movie, or activity can get a bit boring when they engage with it over and over. So it should be no surprise that having identical Agile meetings for weeks or months can lead them to feel a bit stale.
That’s why it’s so important to try different approaches to standups and retros to keep things fresh. For example, you can change the questions everyone answers during their standups or try using a different platform for your retrospectives. If these meetings start to feel like everyone is on autopilot, it’s probably time for a change.
Lead by Example
The truth is, if you’re not feeling very inspired while leading your Agile team, you can hardly expect great enthusiasm from your team members. Whether you’re talking about inspiration or simply sticking to good Agile practices, you can’t expect your team to operate perfectly without some level of leadership. Whatever else you do from this list, always be sure to also lead by example.
If you’re feeling a bit stuck yourself, you can try beefing up your skills with something like an Agile marketing leadership certification. Working with experienced Agile coaches, learning some new techniques, and generally taking a break from leading to improve your own skillset can all help you become a more inspiring leader.
Hold Frequent Workshops in Agile
One of the most effective ways to ensure your Agile teams perform and feel their best is to continue educating them on Agile values, principles, practices, etc. The goal is to ensure that everyone understands why the team is doing something or if they are not doing it properly to show them the proper way.
After all, one of the main ideas behind Agile is transparency. That doesn't just include who is doing what, but why the team works the way it does. Understanding the “why” behind things can be extremely inspiring for people who feel lost or confused as they adjust to working in an Agile team.
This is especially important when presenting new practices and process changes. If you’re going to ask your team to adapt Agile to something new, you need to equip them with the knowledge needed to make that adaptation successful.
It’s easy to forget to celebrate wins, but this is what makes all that hard work feel important. As ironic as it may seem, being successful and feeling successful can often be two totally different things. That’s why it’s so important to build validation into your retros, and even your standups if your team has smaller wins often enough to warrant it.
You can even come up with more creative ways to recognize wins aside from simply calling them out. Of course, a good team-building event won’t hurt either, especially if it’s framed as a celebration of your success.
How Do You Inspire Your Agile Team? Invest in Them!
Ultimately, the cost of employees who don’t feel inspired is high. Retention and performance both tend to suffer. Showing people a clear career path, investing in improving their skills, and showing them you care about how they feel at work all contribute to better-performing Agile teams.
Of course, getting everyone together to learn and grow can be tricky even when you’re not leading a remote team. That’s why combining self-paced courses with some instructor-led time, and social learning communities is ideal. We’ve brought all of that together in our learning platform, The Ropes. It has an array of courses for all kinds of Agile teams and leaders to get informed and inspired so they can be even more effective.