Team dynamics is crucial to the success of scrum. Poor dynamics could hinder the overall performance of teams, the profitability of an organisation, and individual motivation. If left unchecked this can have a significant impact on the way they work. In this article, we describe what team dynamics are, what causes problems in their dynamics, and how they can be improved.
Teams don’t consciously act out. There is a lot at play, examples are
- Is this a new team?
- Is the team mirroring corporate culture?
- Is there a manager or team lead as part of the team?
- Does the team report to a member on the team?
- What type of personalities make up the team?
Team dynamics are influenced by psychological, and environmental factors.
Eliminating some of the “white noise” which is part of the corporate culture will force the team to deal with their personalities and relationships. The white noise only serves to add greater confusion and will delay teams from forming (Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development). Forming is the first stage where the team’s behavior is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others. They avoid controversy or conflict within the team. Serious issues are avoided. This is a “honey moon” stage. It is the stage where they avoid conflict. Unfortunately if they are more busy with the “white noise” they will be in this state much longer than they should be. So what you say? The longer they are in this state the longer it will take them to get to “performing”, never mind self organizing.
A Manager or Tech lead as part of the Scrum Team will only serve to not allow the team to self organize and will always look to the manager or tech lead. They will be even more apprehensive with a manager. When a team holds back their opinions, there will be no creativity or ownership from the team.
Personality traits affect the team in the same negative way. Some of the negative traits are Individuals who are critical of others, more aggressive or outspoken, someone who doesn’t participate, and someone who dominates conversation.
Improve Team Dynamics
As a Scrum Master, you need to guide and help the team develop. As a Manager, you need to support and grow teams. To do this, learn all about the team. Understand the individuals, who they are and what are their strengths.
Secondly, act quickly if you notice that one member of your team has adopted a negative behavior Challenge the teams and hold them accountable to their Rules of Engagement (Team Charter). Help the team to define its objective, and responsibilities. Make sure that everyone has a copy of the rules. Hold the team to the Scrum values and principles. Do not pass on the retrospectives. The retrospectives will give them an opportunity to reflect on how they can change behavior.
Strengthen team communication. Make sure you include how the team will deal with issues as part of the rules. Include all of the forms of communication that the team will use. Encourage direct communication if the team is co-located. If you have distributed teams use every available means to get the team to communicate. If the infrastructure of the organization presents a challenge try other means, such as Google Hangouts, and Skype.
Pave the way!
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