The biggest challenge in any SCRUM workshop or in any project management workshop of mine is to impart the 'right mindset' to the leader of the team, effecting a movement from a 'Hitler' kind of a manager to a 'Gandhi' kind of a manager, epitomizing 'servant leadership'. May be, this is just an Indian / Asian phenomina. Most of us from India had the luxury of spending our child hood in well knit close families, where the father, played the role of the 'head of the family', and very often others just listened to whetever he said. We subconsciously believed that this is the right attitude of the 'ideal manager', who symbolizes power, authority, dynamism etc.... Based on my experiences as a manager, project manager, scrum master, parent and corporate trainer, here are some tips for building great teams and becoming a great team leader (manager, scrum master etc...titles do not matter much).
1) Realize that you are terribly dependent on your team
We often tend to think that the team is dependent on us, where as the reality is vice-versa. In a professionally managed environment, if you repeatedly go and compain about your team members to your seniors, most probably you will loose your job. This is true, even if the team goes to your boss and complain about you. In both cases, you can loose your credibility as a manager and even loose your job. The fact is that, as a leader of a team, one is terribly dependent on the team. Without a capable and committed team, the manager is handicapped.
2) Become a 'participatory parent'
The 'controlling parent' mode of working will work with un skilled, low profile teams. With a highly competent team the right approach would be 'participative parent'. This is very much true in our personal lives as well. Till our kids reach teen age, the 'controlling parent' style will work and afterwards one has to move to the 'best friend' or 'participative parent' style.
3) Get biased towards performers
In Asia, most often the bias is always towards protecting the weak, and very often we bring this attitude to the work place, at the cost of loosing performers from our teams, becuase we take them for granted. 99% of the Asian managers I have spoke to, have not sacked even a single team member for reasons of non performance. Remember that, a non performer can become a great performer in another team. He/She may not be performing just becuase the chemistry between them and the rest of the team is not just right. By allowing them to loose their jobs, you are doing the right thing. Get biased towards performers, spend more time with them and at the same time provide enough opportunities for the 'weak in your teams' to improve. Even after providing all the inputs that is required for further improvement, if there are no positive results, do not hesitate to take action. By doing so, you are helping that individual.
4) Beieve in theory 'Y'
4) Beieve in theory 'Y'
Theory 'Y' states that "people are fundamentally good, you can trust them, if you give interesting work, they will perform'. Pick up the right people, ensure that the wrong ones are out, allocate work based on their strengths (if possible allow them to choose the work they want to do) and then trust them. Implement simple yet effective progress trackers and reduce the review meetings. By reducing the frequency of reviews, you are actually mounting pressure on the team.
5) Do not interfere unnecessarily
Most of the Indians do not swim in the sea. Thanks to our parenting. When we were kids, whenever we took initiative to swim in the sea, our parents used to pitch in and dissuade us saying ' it is dangerous'. In the process most of us do not swim in the sea. We go to a beach for different reasons :-). Very often we carry forward this 'protectionist' attitude of our parents to the work place. We tend to pitch in and resolve issues, before they occur, and in the process prevent our team members to acquire new skills. So from tomorrow onwards, whenever the team members have an issue, for a change read book, or go to the pantry and have a cup of coffee and then join the team after some time to see the magic. Very often, they would have resolved it in a manner, which you would not have even dreamt of.
6) Learn to appreciate spontaneously
I have never heard my Father and Mother telling me explicitly 'I love you'. For that matter, even my wife and daughter. They always expressed their love through meaningful actions like spending for my education, getting me new dress, celebrating my birth day, taking care of home when I am away, looking after me, when I was ill. We always expressed our love through thoughtful actions, and in the process never learned to appreciate some one directly and genuinly. We seldom say 'I LOVE YOU' and Kiss some one.
Learn to appreciate your team members , looking into their eyes, with a firm shake hand and with a sense of gratitude for being in your team, and putting their best foot forward. Some times I have seen tears in their eyes, becuase no body would have done it to them for ages together.
7) Love your team
In project management classes we say that '90% of the project manager's time goes into communication'. Initially I thought that it is an exaggerated number to find out later that it is absolutely correct. As managers either we are talking to people, listening to them, recruiting, doing performance appraisals, talking to vendors and customers, taking to management, making agenda for meetings, making minutes of the meetings, following up on the action items. So it is a fact that we spend almost 90% of our time in communication. Most of the humans like to communicate with the ones they like and love, and very few enjoy communicating with their enemy. The degree of communication (which consumes 90% of a manager's work) is directly proportional to the intensity of your love and affection. So LOVE the people around you, and do it genuinly :-)