Safe Environment For Your Agile Team


Creating a safe, enjoyable yet productive team happy can be tricky. Yes we all want everybody smiling at happy whilst at work but what if you think an individual or a team are not pulling their weight? or they are not following what you believe to be the process?

Finger Pointing

One method of raising such an issue I am adamant you should not doing is just to point the finger and blame that individual or team outright, especially in a group and definitely not at the retrospective. But isn’t that what the retrospective is for? I’m not say do not raise issues at your retrospective, I am saying do not make  people feel uncomfortable or unhappy in it.

How It Feels

Imagine going into work feeling down, your childhood pet has just died, or you just lost £1000 in a casino on the weekend. How productive would you feel when you’re feeling down? Let me tell you the answer is: not very productive at all. Directly calling someone out in a group of people is only going to make them feel worse (if, indeed, they were actually bad to begin with).

Are They Really a Problem?

First ask yourself: what actually is it they are doing wrong? Is it just that they generally don’t seem good at their job? If you can’t think of a specific thing they’re doing wrong, the problem is entirely your own. Grow up. If however, it is one thing you dislike about their work then speak to them, like a human being. Let’s say, for example, they are not (in your opinion) giving detailed enough check-in or code comments. Fair enough, its a small issue that is easily corrected.

What Should I Do?

In this example, check what others are doing first. It may be that they give just as much detail as everyone else but for some reason you have singled out this person. Grow up. Your point may, however, still be valid, It may be that everyone should step it up on the detail. That’s fine, raise it at the retrospective. Just say “hey guys, I like to give this much detail on my check-ins. Do you think its beneficial?”. That’s great, its constructive, you’ve not offended anyone and you have actually questioned your own process – so nobody will feel uncomfortable. If , however,  the person is alone in this then just speak to them. Wait for a good opportunity, perhaps the next time you pair on something and you’re about to check-in together. Just say “I like to give this much detail on my check-ins. Which I think is beneficial because of…..”. Once again you’ve not offended anyone, they have seen your point of view and if they disagree they will call you on it and you can have the conversation. If you have set them a good example, they will follow.

Don’t Invent Your Own Rules of Judgement

One thing to remember when you come across issues such as this is to make sure the issue is really an issue in the teams’ eyes. Whenever you think somebody is doing something incorrectly then make sure that is a rule made by (and agreed to) by the team. Just because you believe it should be done one way, does not make it so. Never criticize anyone for doing their work a particular way if it has never been agreed on to do it differently.

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