7 Tips for Creating an Agile Work Environment

Okay, full disclosure, what follows is common sense — basic managerial stuff. But, it’s doubly important for any organization that wants to be agile. Applying command-and-control management techniques to agile development slows everyone down and causes more problems that it solves.

Don’t just skim over this list. Pick an item from it and get to work creating an agile work environment — because agile software development involves a lot more than writing and testing code.

  1. Engage in open and honest communication: Lack of communication is frequently cited as a failure point in project after project. Everyone should feel free to offer their thoughts and opinions without repercussion, as long as it’s done in a professional and respectful manner.
  2. Empower your teams: Lack of empowerment is a leading workplace stress factor. Allow the team to make as many decisions as feasible regarding their workflow and the project deliverables.
  3. Be flexible: Family and work demands are often at odds. How, where and when (daily) work gets done is less important than delivering high-quality results in a timely manner. You’ll create a tremendous amount of loyalty and goodwill.
  4. Reward and praise great performances: Lack of recognition is a common complaint on many teams. Verbal praise, particularly in front of peers, carries a lot of weight. Rewards can be as simple as a free lunch, time off, or a tee shirt.
  5. Maintain a positive outlook and tone: Negativity spreads faster than the fastest wild fire. Be positive and upbeat. Set the expectation that negative remarks need to be accompanied by positive recommendations.
  6. Encourage social interactions: People like to learn more about other people. Picnics, office parties, outings, and other social events help build camaraderie.
  7. Support career development: Lack of training or advancement opportunities is demotivating. Find out what each team member wants to learn and find ways to offer associated opportunities. Formal administrative promotions may be rare but there are many leadership possibilities.

Bonus Tip: Maintain a consistent pace of work: Frequent emergencies will wear everyone down. There will be inevitable crisis situations requiring an “all hands on deck” call. Communicate the reason for the call and request everyone’s understanding and assistance. And, don’t make a habit of it.

Updated: July 12, 2011 — 9:51 pm