When people and their collaboration become more important and results count increasingly and customers are tighter involved and the flexible reaction to changes determines the work, then we speak of agility. Everything is about the involved parties and, above all, the working group who takes self-determined care of tasks, which can neither be extrapolated from the past into the future nor pragmatically predicted in advance. A look at the Agilemma has shown that the new conditions are pulling the nerves of the managers – although they have the key to successful actions – the alpha and omega of agility.
It’s all about activating employees. For this reason, managers in an agile environment, actually not just there, need to consider the following points.
Micro management Once the boss is the best employee, it will be difficult. Micromanagers are busy taking care of the smallest details and reworking all the results of the employees. Managers who cannot let go are a serious obstacle as soon as employees are expected to act independently. The autonomy of the agile teams is unimpeachable.
Options In order to obtain viable solutions, the working groups need various options for action. On the one hand, the requirements determine the choices. On the other hand, the solutions need sufficient means for implementation. The provision of resources is one of the most fundamental tasks of a manager. The responsibility of the team is the best regulator against extravagance.
Transparency To be effective, actors need as much information as possible about stakeholders, the environment, the capabilities of participants and the beliefs that drive all. The decision-makers do not have to provide the figures, data and facts, but do have to provide sufficient opportunities to become adequately informed. Borderless data flow is an important prerequisite for agile work.
Impetus The inner drive of the team members is the fuel, which keeps the zest in the iterations of the project. Everything that hinders the momentum belongs to the alpha and omega of agility. The managers have the task to do everything they can to ensure that stronger performance is achieved and that everybody deals better with failures Capable bosses master the art of awakening intrinsic motivation.
Variety Complex tasks can only be implemented with even more complex means. For this reason, a wide range of characters, solutions and activities is indispensable. To ensure that diversity is not disturbed, all forms of nepotism must be avoided, since this generates envy and resentment, which ultimately results in poorer performance. Anything that increases diversity is indispensable.
Aim In the absence of clear objectives, the rough direction and the emotionally charged target horizon are the most efficacious description of the intention of the decision makers. If the undertakings of the bosses are based on the available resources and offers the team a loose network of people, and if additionally it becomes possible to draw ideas from coincidences and mistakes, and the efforts are limited to what one is prepared to lose, than the intention has good chances to deliver results. The coherent aim is the fuzzy vision.
Team Internal and external interdisciplinary partnerships are essential for an effective team. Given the different origins of those involved, it is essential to create an encouraging sense of belonging. Decision-makers must ensure that appropriate team-building activities are carried out. Here applies – Together Everyone Achieves More
Individuals The team hopefully consists of various characters that complement each other. Each team member should have a strong self-confidence and assertiveness in order to enrich the team in its capacity. The decision makers should resist the impulse to recruit teams from their old boy network, as this only causes discomfort in the team. The team is more than the sum of the members.
Orientation Independent of the agile approach applied, the decision-makers must in particular ensure that there are clear target visions by which the employees recognize the direction. In the absence of reliable foresight, it is not a matter of tough specifications, but of awakening yearnings. The team needs the fuzzy vision in order to have orientation.
Need The advantages arise on the way to the goal, which develops only in the course of the iterations. In contrast to classic projects, which create in advance an elaborate business case that promises great benefits in order to get the budget to start, in an agile environment small steps create small increments that can only be evaluated at the end. Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves.
Bottom line: For a long time, „classical“ organizations with business processes and projects have given their business the finishing touches. After years, this has led today to insufficient capacities being available for the next round of transformation, the Digitization. Therefore they want to use agile work styles. For many managers, this creates the Agilemma. Besides the required mindset it is necessary to master the alpha and omega of agility – the MOTIVATION of the employees in the agile teams.
P.S .: It takes a lot of time and energy to gain the trust of the parties concerned, but only a blink of an eye to destroy everything with a disrespectful, degrading and unfair leadership style.
If the career accelerates further and further and the values get lost on the way, then the incompetence lurks behind all corners. The fate of an executive hangs on a single horse hair. In the past we used to talk about the Peter Principle – i.e. in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence. Now everything happens so quickly that this level is reached sooner, because the experienced mentors are lacking. With the appropriate attention, countermeasures could be taken at an early stage.
What are, however, practices that should be considered in order to delay this stage as long as possible?
Keep a low voice The vernacular says, „Who cries is wrong.“ If you believe the statements of contemporaries, then neither Steve Jobs had resisted the pressure to yell, nor does Elon Musk have this self-control – although the material background would allow for some generosity. The rest of the executives, who shout irascibly and offend cynically and even believe that they are leading, show with this behavior, above all, their limitations. Better be self-controlled by an appropriate volume.
Stay fair The traditional incentives for yes-men, the special financial payment for strong conformists, are an expression of unbalanced treatment of employees. This injustice is nowadays even replaced by the friendly shake hands, which enhances its effect by never praising otherwise. It does not take long for the biased distribution of appreciation to be noticed. In this sense, giving preference to somebody reinforces the impression that one has reached its level. Everybody benefits, if you stay fair.
Be open A special form of injustice happens when the old leadership law is used – Rule 1: The boss is always right; Rule 2: If the boss should not be right, then automatically rule 1 becomes effective. This can lead to absurd incidents: I have clearly expressed myself. Why don’t you understand that? And five minutes later: Nobody can understand this. Why don’t you express yourself more clearly? And eventually, the results suffer Use different viewpoints for the benefit of all.
Delegate consistently Subsequently, there are also conflicting orders, which lead in any case to a punishment. The motivated employee, who is known everywhere and is working on Project A and Project B, will present one of the projects. Then, In the presentation of project A, arises irritation, why project B is not presented. The same thing happens of course in the opposite case. This dilemma can only be resolved by one. Ensure consistency when you assign tasks to others.
Let loose That a manager loses over time his sense of work is understandable. The lack of practice results in the fact that all the employees know much more than the supervisor. If the cost estimates made by the employees are not trusted and the plans get simply adjusted, this leads to an unnecessary frustration that creates negative stress. Micro management is one of the most important reasons for distress. As a leader you simply let loose and appreciate whatever outcome.
Form follows content Unfortunately, the sentence is practiced the other way around. Today, many are faced with a dilemma. The half-life of technical knowledge is three years. This means that after almost ten years, the original lessons learned have only a value of 25% – except: One has continuously learned. As a result, while the content is slowly disappearing, form becomes increasingly important. If the discussion of a concept revolves around the font and the CI, then the conversation partners are certainly on different terrains – even if this would be the moment for a valuable contribution. Support your employees, where they really need it.
Do not overload It is not a weakness especially of the management not being aware of the delayed effects of measures. Initiatives are launched that often take longer than the leadership needs in order to set-up additional activities. All this portfolio management does not cushion this homemade mess. Order and continuity is not a trait once you reach your level (remember Rule 1 and 2). Remember that your initiatives are finished, before you start to turn the next big wheel.
Express yourself clearly The communication behavior of executives is critical to success. Communicating clearly the strategy, providing values and supporting employees in their efforts is their actual task. If the employees do not understand their leaders, because there is a strange jargon up there or incomplete statements and vague messages are communicated, then the viability of the company is in peril. A fuzzy way of communicating is not adequate for a leader, but it only proves the indicated inability. Learn the language of your target group and deliver your message in their way.
Bottom line: The neutral look from the outside reveals people who endanger the interaction of the teams. Respectful dealing with each other, balanced involvement with all, no blaming, clear goals, avoidance of additional stress, focus on content, understanding of causes and effects, and a clear language are indicators of the effectiveness of a leader. The ultimate goal is to shift the level of incompetence as much as possible through attentive and competent behavior in order to avoid the Damocles sword.