The Beating Will Continue Until Morale Improves!

Leonor Urena

The journey continues this week with the action plan of last week's meeting (Perception is reality! post for those first timers to the blog).  As you may remember the team had the opportunity to review their issues with the program and architect.  They outlined the issues on the board and walked through each.  It is important to clarify that none of the issues raised were new to the program.  However, they finally were in agreement that something had to be done.

"Morale and attitude are fundamentals to success!"

Bud Wilkinson

One of the key issues to address was morale. Team members feel for the first time in their careers they are under performing. They feel helpless. Why is morale so low in an organization that seems so committed to adapt agile? Well, it starts with the lack of skill sets these teams have. The program decided on cross functional teams, which meant they needed to shuffle people around.  Some of the individuals are Hybris contractors brought in for their expertise, others are Adobe experts. The employees do not have either of these skills yet the user stories require both of these skill sets.  The question became, should they give them time to learn or is meeting the target delivery date more important.  This question was inevitable!  Were they naive to think that teams would pick up new skill sets in just three sprints?  Or was it a question of not thinking through how to best set the teams up for success?  It really doesn't matter which it was, the result is poor morale, and lack of self confidence. Specially when they are compared to other teams who have senior people with these skills. To add to their pain they hear comments such as "they have not produced much", "their velocity is a concern", because the walls are thin.  The beating continued without morale improving.

Was the bar set too high?

Yes, the bar was set high with no net to catch them.  How could this been avoided?  One way would have been not to choose a high risk project for the deployment of agile.  Taken on a low risk project would have given the teams time to learn new skills, adapt to agile, and form as a team without the pressure of performance. Many organizations in my experience treat agile as a silver bullet to shoot right into the heart of a critical project, setting everyone up for failure. If the learning curve does not match your project needs, consider reviewing skills, experience, and personality traits before rolling out teams.  Next week there will be a lot of changes in an attempt to resolve this issue, and I hope to bring good tidings. Until next post! As always, you know the drill!  Is your team's morale low?  What is management doing about it? What are you as a scrum master doing to change this? How were your teams rolled out?  Was level of experience and skills considered?

“It is not a bolt to be tightened into place, but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.”

John Ciardi

About our guest writer

Sustainable Games
I am an Agile coach with a passion to help teams to collaborate, strategize, cooperate and to deliver solutions that are in direct support of strategic initiatives. An agile transition is all about people and interactions and that is my concentration. I apply gamification, and proven techniques to motivate teams. Through these techniques I support teams to drive specific behaviors that contribute towards more effective, productive and harmonious working relationships regardless of the methodology or framework used.

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