Managing the Agile Workforce – Chapter 12: Characteristics of Agile Teams

To conclude our series of blogs on Managing the Agile Workforce, it seems appropriate to summarise the skills, attributes and practices of effective virtual / agile teams, based on the research we carried out in this area, against each of the topics we looked at.

In the last blog, we looked at the characteristics of Agile leaders and managers – this time we turn to those of the Agile Team. As you review these – think of your own situation and ask yourself how you measure up to these aspects.

MANAGEMENT STYLE

  • Respond well to a transformational management style
  • Able to self-manage
  • Can manage their own needs, maintain a boundary between home and work life and progress personal development while working remotely
  • Do not need the structure of working in an office all the time

PERSONALITY

  • Have a mix of personalities which are understood within the team
  • Similar levels of conscientiousness are helpful in avoiding conflict (easily triggered when working apart)
  • A mix of extraverts and introverts within the team helps if there are different conscientiousness levels and ensures enough leaders / followers
  • Are generally ‘agreeable’ which creates trust and cohesion – helping sustain the team’s social characteristics with fewer face-to-face interactions

RELATIONSHIPS

  • Take responsibility for focusing on the quality and quantity of communication with the manager and colleagues
  • Proactively address conflict – don’t wait until face-to-face
  • Focus on developing and maintaining socially cohesive relationships with colleagues
  • Meet the manager regularly to review their motives, attitudes and outcomes

COGNITIVE BIAS

  • Recognise the potential for bias to affect the way they see and interact with colleagues
  • Realise that “gut feeling” can be prone to availability bias (things that happened most recently)
  • Seek additional inputs and evidence to challenge their biases and those of colleagues
  • Seek inputs from a variety of people to challenge preconceptions (“someone least like us”)

COMMUNICATION

  • Team members are skilled in using a mixture of communication media:
    • Presence monitoring to keep in touch / chat
    • Email for specific purposes – not everything
    • Video conferencing whenever possible to connect to each other’s context and emotional wellbeing
    • Social / knowledge sharing tools to exchange info, keep tasks visible
  • Team members know and respect each other’s preferences

TRUST

  • Have a propensity to trust others
  • Actively demonstrate trustworthy behaviour – do what they say they will do / be visible and accountable
  • Trust each other well enough to challenge each other to further the team’s goals and to raise issues
  • Rely on cognition-based trust aligned to their knowledge and experience of each other’s skills and abilities

CO-ORDINATION OF TASKS

  • Have agreed / documented working practices / processes for co-ordinating tasks
  • Progress on tasks is made visible through use of specific project tracking technologies
  • Members schedule their tasks and plan work activities to suit their requirements but align to those of the team
  • Use meeting agendas and are clear about outcomes, to ensure meetings stay on track and adhere to goals

This concludes our blog series on Managing the Agile Workforce. We hope you have enjoyed it and have benefited from some of the ideas and tips that we’ve shared. We also encourage you to use the concepts you’ve learnt in the management of the workplace as well as consider aspects when creating workplace strategies.

For further reading, please see our blogs on Knowledge Worker Productivity and Cognitive Performance.

If you have any questions or are interested in our research or services, please contact Advanced Workplace Associates using the information below.