Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Photo from Agile Austin April 12 Managers talk about Agile

125 people attended the April meeting of Agile Austin at Kasasa.  A panel of experts answered preselected and on demand questions about Agile.

  • How to evaluate employees and managers?
Motivation?  Make sure employee knows what it takes to go to the next level.  Make sure employees "own" their problems.
Use a phone app to get feedback on employees and even meetings. 
 Give feedback all year round.

  • How to do interviewing and hiring?
It's important to have the whole team involved.  Don't hire anyone the team has doubts about.
Candidate must be technically adept.  Look for competence and humility.  And an ability to learn. 
If any interviewee answers "I don't know." is a good sign.
Look for someone who enjoys the work.
Look for good culture fit.  Establish values for your company and test your candidate for those qualities.
Look for motivation, desire to fix problems and to grow technically.
Ask candidate about their past process.  Look for enthusiasm or just rote description.
Ask candidate about best team they have worked with.  What makes a good team?
Try to find the culture they want to be in.
90% of time is human interaction, 10% is hands on keyboard.
Be honest with candidate about job environment.  Don't let salesperson in manager take over and gloss over the problems.
Do not get reactions about candidate in email or separately.  Get feedback in a group so they can bounce thoughts off each other.

  • How do Agile managers handle employee issues?
How to handle employees with significant life problems like death in family, illness.
Be a servant leader.
You don't have to have the right answers.

How to handle team conflicts?  You want them to take ownership if possible.  If not, bring awareness through one-on-one.  Healthy teams do have meaningful debates in an atmosphere of trust.

In the old school it was the manager's task to fix problems, now the team needs to take ownership, define the problem, and fix it.

  • How to retain great teams?  How to foster team satisfaction?
Show appreciate to team members.  A little appreciation goes a long way.   It's a matter of continually checking in with each individual and seeing how they are doing.

What do employees want the most?  They like to feel like they are contributing to the organization.
Show your programmers customers using their software. 
People don't like to deal with the same problems.  If an employee tells you about an issue they cannot fix, you need to solve it.

  • How to balance business needs with the needs of forming an agile team?   
Be honest, if company is struggling tell the team.

What big fails have you had as a manager that you learned from?
Focusing too much on process without the principles.  If execs don't understand Agile principles, it's a recipe for disaster.
Not releasing a product for review even if it's not a minimal usable product.
Not firing someone early.

  • How have you changed from managing an Agile team?
Learn to let other people fix their problems.
Letting go and let the team make decisions.
I don't have to know what everyone is doing all the time.
Having patience that it will all work out.
Learn to take my hands off the steering wheel.

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