Not receiving what you expected, stop asking for less!

If you are a leader or manager of agile teams then chances are you are familiar with the frustration of watching agile teams execute quickly on delivering the next “big something” only to discover they skipped some key item(s).  That moment that happens after you publicly celebrate victory, praise the team, then they turn around and piss all over their shoes.

How the hell did you get here? In a moment both the team’s and your own personal leadership brand have been tarnished. Along the way you feel like you had asked the team to not be reckless, to consider quality, and ensure application performance.  You believed that you made it crystal clear what those expectations were.   Yet, in the end what was delivered has a missed the mark. That missed mark is all that everyone else sees now.

A goal for healthy agile environments is to build high performing, high trust, highly motivated teams, and then trust them to get the job done.  As a agile leader you may have thought you were doing this already, with all of the best of intentions. But being a good manager or leader of agile teams does not mean being absent or having blind trust. There is a saying a former manager of mine used to use all the time. “You get what you inspect, not what you expect”.

See what most likely happened in the above scenario is that you probably trusted too much. You may have set a desired outcome, and laid out the initial set of expectations, and then you trusted the team to do the right thing. BTW, good job for not micro-managing.

But my question to you is this; After the initial conversation did you stay invested enough as a stakeholder?  Not a stakeholder as in “your receiving the delivery of their work” but a stakeholder invested in helping the team meet or exceed the expectations. Did you invest in team success regularly enough to make sure the outcomes they were producing met the standard worthy of them putting their name on it? If you were surprised in the end like everyone else then the answer is no.

Teams, especially new teams, do not automatically become high trust teams. High trust is a teams skill that need to be nurtured and developed.  Most importantly to master it they need your leadership keeping them accountable to the mission and equally enabling correction when they drift.  So while the team has room to grow next time, chances are so do you…










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