Investing time in building self-managed teams – Agile Best Practices

building self-managed teams - agile best practices

One of the relevant truths in the business and corporate world is that a business or organization is as good as its employees. Now, by employees, we do not refer to the individual capacity of these workers, but rather, their ability to work together as a team.

Many organizations have understood this principle and have laid serious emphasis on team building and team bonding activities.

However, some organizations are still coming to terms with the importance of this activity and how it impacts the efficiency and productivity of its employees and the organization as a whole. This article seeks to discuss the process of team building and the reasons why organizations need to invest in this regard.

Hiring the best people vs Assembling the best teams

Hiring the best people vs Assembling the best teams - building self-managed teams - agile best practices

In the past, there has always been a huge emphasis on the need to hire smart and intelligent people. The recruitment process for many organizations shows that they are usually looking to hire the best among the best during the recruitment exercise. The argument that a smart employee would be productive and help the organization grow has been the hallmark for the human resources management sector for a long while.

However, research and reality have shown that smart employees are not the secret to a productive workforce or vibrant organization. Rather, a productive workforce is characterized by a good team. It only helps to have smart and intelligent employees when they work effectively and cohesively as a team. As many human resources experts have pointed out, a workforce of vibrant and smart employees is useless if these employees cannot work together as a team. This is because team dynamics affect productivity and performance more than individual intelligence. Hence, agile companies places software engineers and designers in independent teams, where they can work in parallel and deliver high-end results.

Understanding this point has helped many organizations put things into perspective. Employers have changed the metrics for determining the suitability of a candidate from individual brilliance and smartness to the ability to blend with the organizational culture and work cohesively with other employees as a team. This is not to imply that individual brilliance has no place in any organization. It does, however, recruiters understand the importance of team dynamics and are willing to take chances on a good team player.

More than the recruitment process, many organizations also pay adequate attention to the team-building activities at the workplace. This ensures that team members remain connected throughout the work process.

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Social Interaction Helps Communication

Social Interaction Helps Communication - building self-managed teams - agile best practices

Another important reason why organizations are now putting a lot of resources into team building and bonding is to aid communication among employees and team members. Research has shown that informal conversations and relations can positively affect the way team members communicate with each other. In research by the MIT Human Dynamics lab, it was shown that these social interactions increase beneficial communication patterns among employees by 50%.

With this backing, organizations now create multiple social events and interactions for employees, while encouraging members of the team to attend these events. This is because they understand that better communication between team members is a prerequisite for high performance and efficiency. When there is a better communication pattern, team members find it easier to pass crucial information around, give their opinion on issues, and finally make informed and better decisions as a team. All of these result in higher productivity for the organization.

Creating a shared identity beyond technical stuff

Creating a shared identity beyond technical stuff - building self-managed teams

One of the most motivating feelings in the human psyche is a sense of belonging. Having a sense of belonging or a shared identity with a group of people helps you bond with them and interact easily. With this feeling of belonging to a “tribe” or a group, people remain motivated and committed to any activity involving that tribe or group.

Many researchers have shown that there is an evolutionary background and explanation for this trait. With the early humans, belonging to a group or tribe spells the difference between life and death, survival and extinction. More than simply belonging, the stronger the group, the better one’s chance of survival.

Understanding this human trait and employing it can make all the difference concerning the productivity of the organization. Investing in team building means that the organization is not only providing room for the creation of a shared identity between employees, it is also enabling the creation of a strong team through bonding and social interaction.

Providing the Psychological Safety for Creativity

According to the Google Massive Study of Team Performance, psychological safety is one of the most important factors that determines the performance and productivity of employees in an organization. What then is psychological safety? Psychological safety is a sense or a belief that a group is safe, respectful, comfortable, and trusting. It implies that the ambiance or environment created by a team is considered safe and comfortable for all team members.

It then follows that in this type of environment, team members will not only be comfortable to express their opinions about work-related issues, but also take on risky and creative projects. In a psychologically safe team, members are motivated to express their creativity, a move that could lead to the creation of innovative ways of solving problems facing the organization.

The only way to create a psychologically safe team is through team building. All team building and bonding activities are geared towards ensuring that team members understand that they are all different and how important it is to appreciate and respect these differences. Once this is done, bonding becomes easier and freedom of expression sets in. with all of the precursory virtues, it is safe to say that the team is on its way to achieving psychological safety.

Providing Motivation for Individual Brilliance

As surprising as it may sound, team building helps with individual brilliance. When an organization invests in team building, there is enough room for communication and understanding. A big part of the communicative process is getting to understand the impact and importance of everyone and their work at the organization. Team members get to understand the job of their counterparts and how it affects the operation of the organization. Gaining this understanding helps team members appreciate their counterparts and their inputs.

What happens when everybody understands and appreciates what you do? You get motivated and energized to do better at your job. At this point, employees will be committed to doing their jobs better and efficiently, mainly because of two reasons. The first reason is to retain the high estimation in the eyes of their counterparts. The second reason is to ensure that the organization keeps running smoothly and efficiently.

For these two reasons, employees get to tap into their creativity and give their best while performing their tasks and doing their part of the job.

Having discussed some of the reasons why the organization needs to pay serious attention to team building, let us review some of the ways through which organizations can build their teams. It is important to say that some of the tips to be reviewed were provided by leading organization executives.

Embracing Flexible Schedules

embracing flexible schedules - building self-managed teams

As much as there is a lot of benefits with orderliness and planned schedules, adopting a more relaxing approach could be more beneficial to the organization and help team members bond better. This tip becomes even more important with the coronavirus pandemic and how many teams are just coming out of the remote work system. To help team members ease their way back into the conventional work schedules, flexible work schedules would be of great help.

A part of the flexible work schedule is giving employees the option of working from home or working in the office. For those who are already working from home, you may select days within the week when they would need to come to the office and fraternize with other team members.

Consider the Health and Safety of Employees

consider the health and safety of employees - building self-managed teams

While discussing the reasons for team building, we touched on the subject of psychological safety. However, psychological safety is not as important as the physical safety of employees. Only employees and team members that are physically safe would worry about psychological safety. This is why organizations need to invest in the health and safety of their employees. This assures team members that the organization cares about them and thus, they would be motivated to work cohesively as a team.

Organizing Periodic Fun Meetings

Having an atmosphere where team members can relax, kick back and have fun is important for the team-building process. This atmosphere is better created through periodic fun meetings. These meetings could be weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. Regardless of the interval, the purpose of this meeting is to ensure that team members have some time away from work to have fun and get to know each other.

For any organization that uses the remote work system, this fun meeting is possible with the use of video conferencing calls such as Zoom, Google Meet, and the likes, other collaborative tools can also be used to play games.

Conclusion

Team building is very important for the growth and productivity of an organization, and organizations must pay adequate emphasis to the team-building process.

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