Saturday, 11 August 2012

Feedback me!

While busy working with different teams, either in groups or 1:1, all I can think is how to bring my best experience and make a small (or big) step towards how they think, work, collaborate. Most of the times we are so busy on focusing on fixing something that we forget to see what we have done. I know most of you will scream back to me "That's why you have Retrospectives". I know that, and I do use retrospectives as the place for them to stop and think about what was done right, what improvements were done and all that good stuff. But retrospectives are the place where the team brings their feedback for themselves, what they have seen, what they think, what they feel. Until now, I haven't gotten time to actually stop and point out something good they do, as they do it.

One day, while my team was having the standup, someone made a very good comment about what one of my team members was doing. Without any ill feeling, I started thinking, why wasn't I getting any similar feedback? And I clearly asked "Why am I not getting any of that kind of feedback? Am I doing something wrong or am I working on difficult projects/teams?" Suddenly, I did feel that the person that gave the good feedback, felt bad. And off course, right after the standup, he came by and he did mentioned to me that I was not behind, I was also doing a great job. I felt like a kid that goes home and says "The teacher like Jimmy more than me". Was not what I was looking for. I wanted to know why I didn't earn that comment.

Just like me, everyone wants to hear feedback, especially good feedback. I believe is Anne Klein that said once "Imagine everyone you meet, has a sign on their neck that says "Make me feel important"". Sometimes it is hard to give good feedback when you are so focused on the issues, when you are so focused on getting people to find time to do something right rather than continue doing it over and over again same way with the same results.
Well, last week I decided to stop and tell my team that they are doing a lot of good things. I guess they were doing them but they were not able to connect them with the skills/behaviors we have introduced them, Kanban/Agile tracks, specific skills and behaviors, all grouped in 1 sheet called Character sheet. I wrote to the team this email:

Hi everyone,
I wanted to share with you some of my observations while I work with your team. Acting as an Agile coach for your team, I want to notice your improvements and your achievements toward Agile skills/behaviors.

-          Creating a system to track the "small" tasks. The fact that you thought about these tasks, setup a system in your board to track them, and most of all, you are using this system, is a big step toward Participation and  Transparency. ("Visualize all work ", "Create work tickets according to identified work tickets types ")
-          Working with UAT to synchronize the testing and with Change Management. I do see you are putting efforts into letting Testing team know when something is coming their way. There is still work to do regarding planning and following up with their commitments to Testing dates, but I think you are doing the right steps toward setting up a system where you hand off the work to Testers in a predictable way. This is one of the areas on Relay ("Synchronize handoff without delay").
-          With the new non-paper board in place, you are now planning to build a new board and organize your work in a more meaningful way for your team. This is part of the Design skill ("Design & build new kanban system") and it is a sign that the team is understanding the goal of the board and is maturing to the point to take ownership of how the work is visualized.
-          Another area I see this team improving is Flow ("Facilitate stand up - basic" , "Discuss WIP violations – mitigation / improvement plan"). The rotation of facilitator, the update of the BTS board with the work that is done during the week, the fact that WIP is raising brainstorming discussions, all these count toward you moving to the right direction.
-          For the people that are working on projects, I am sure you have been introduced with concepts like "Decomposition", "MMF", "BDD", etc. These are all skills that you are learning and  they are part of the Requirements track (Agile).

What else am I missing? I am sure you are doing more than this. I would like to encourage you to have another look at the skills and behaviors (attached) and update your character sheets. Soon we will have another retrospective and I would like to know:
- What have you improved on?
- What is the area you want to improve more but you are facing difficulties with?

Great work so far, looking forward to more!

Not only I heard some people from the team telling me "Thank you for that, at least we feel we are doing some progress", but when I forwarded this to the rest of my team as an example to energize a team, I got a lot of good feedback, even from some that have a hard time to admit the success of others. I earned the skill  of "deliberate and explicit feedback by using specific examples".
Yeay for me and for my team!

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