When you first get started in project management, you quickly begin to realize that the people you work with have certain strengths and weaknesses. As you develop your team, it is often your job to make sure that your team works well together despite these differences. The same is true of growing a successful Agile team that can complete projects efficiently and with end-users in mind throughout.

In this blog post, we are going to take on this challenge of building a kick-ass Agile team and walk you through 5 best practices for creating an environment within which growth can take place. Although some of these practices may be outside of your comfort zone, part of the Agile development process is about taking calculated risks that lead to greater outcomes. The same is true here. Without further ado, let’s jump into building an Agile team.

Agile team

Building an Agile team

Before we get into the best practices, let’s review what it takes to build an Agile team. As we mentioned at the beginning, Agile teams benefit from overlapping skill sets that can make up for weaker areas of expertise within the group. When you are first beginning to recruit members of your team, keep this in mind and try to diversify the skills that each member brings to the table.

You also need to be aware of team member roles and where each person you select will fit within the framework. For example, the Scrum agile methodology has specific roles like Scrum Master and Product Owner that should be held by very specific members of the team. Before you even worry about laying the groundwork for your team, you need to build up a group of people that are ready and prepared to help you create a kick-ass Agile team.

1. Focus on the foundation

Now, once the team has been selected, it is your time as project manager to lead the team and build a solid foundation. Without the proper guidance at the beginning, teams can get off track early and never recover. Consider the following phases of group development, where here you are mainly focusing on forming your Agile team into their roles so that they can grow well into their relative assignments.

This is often the most critical part of the Agile process and should be taken seriously in order to get the most out of the development. Since most Agile methodologies allow for swapping out of personnel, don’t be afraid to let go of team members that are having trouble working together as a team. You will be save a lot of time for everyone by finding someone better suited for this particular project than trying to make it work when there is a loose screw from the very start.

2. Continuous mentoring

Our next best practice actually builds upon the previous, as without the right foundation, providing mentorship can be a lost cause. Throughout the process, try your best to facilitate an Agile team that is both willing to learn from others as well as provide mentorship to others. Keep in mind, this shouldn’t be based on where they are in company leadership, but instead on the unique skills that they bring to the team.

In fact, those with the most seniority often have the most to learn when it comes to Agile teams. Since software development is such a rapidly evolving industry, Agile team members must leave their egos at the door and have an open mind for mentoring others and being mentored by their team.

3. Remain flexible within the framework

In a similar fashion that Agile teams need to leave their egos at the door, your team should be flexible to changes while remaining within the framework. Although Agile development is definitely more flexible than most project management methodologies, there will still be times where you will want to stick to the rules, even though it might make more sense to bend them for your particular case.

On the other hand, if you are able to still keep a certain level of flexibility with your team, you can create better products and solutions. For instance, there may be times where it would be more efficient to do something one way, while the alternative will take longer but achieve better results. As long as you are your team can have discussions together about the best course of action, while staying within the framework, you will be fine.

4. Know your role

Another best practice for your team is to understand your role within the project. Although we encourage mentorship and honest communication, there are particular roles within Agile teams for a reason. For instance, let’s say it is your job to run the Scrum planning meeting, if someone gives you pushback or encourages a tangent, you need to do your part and correct the course of the discussion to remain on task.

Thankfully, most Agile teams have well-defined roles, allowing members to have better interactions across departments and skill sets. However, if you find yourself exceeding your role, you should bring that to the attention of the project manager or the person whose duties you are taking on. This usually calls for either a conversation about who has responsibility for those actions or even potentially a restructuring of the team.

5. Facilitate transparency throughout project

The final best practice for building up a kick-ass Agile team is to facilitate transparency throughout the entire project or process. As we have mentioned throughout this guide, open and honest communication is a cornerstone of Agile teams. By putting in place these best practices and procedures early on, you can build a team that not only works well together, but understands where they fit in within the group.

This level of personalization and honesty is one of the main reasons why organizations love using Agile methodologies and Agile teams. When your employees are able to be frank about their intentions while picking the tasks they want to accomplish, they will perform at a higher rate and have a good time doing so. Once you move past forming, storming, and norming, you can move on to performing and start kicking ass at a new level.  

Remember that growth takes time

Now that you have seen the amount of work that goes into creating a kick-ass Agile team, you may expect that your next project will be miles above your last time working with Agile. This is a common perception within the fast-paced world of app development and Agile teams, but you should remember that real, true growth takes time. And that’s OK.

If you choose to believe in the process and follow the guidelines we have laid out here, while it may take time, you will be working towards a better team and a better process. Commit to this daily, and you should have no problem taking on the world with your Agile team.