Monday, May 4, 2009

How to manage various personalities...

You shouldn't have to manage them, only coach/advise them. Period.

In "Good To Great" by Jim Collins, he spends a very important early chapter on the concept of "getting the right people on the bus", "in the right seats", and the "wrong people off the bus". He even goes as far to propose that heavy management hierarchies are a compensation for having the wrong people on the team and needing to manage them. (Note: this is the chapter after he explains the 5 levels of leadership, so that is not the assumed cause of issues.)

Why am I mentioning a great business book on an agile blog? Here's a question from a LinkedIn group:
From the Manifesto - The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
This seems to do away with the team structures. Wouldn't it be disruptive, given the various personalities that a team can have?
I read into the "various personalities" phrase; here's my response (still waiting to see what others say):
Does the team have "personalities" that can't act professionally and in the best efforts of the team unless their role is clearly defined and with boundaries?
If this is true, I would argue that managing those individuals cost more productivity than they provide in both the waterfall and agile environments. They need to be molded or removed.
It might seem harsh, but we need to insure that teams are enabled by their members and not hindered. I know it is hard to find great people, but when we do hire, they should not only possess the required skills but also fit the culture of the team. Here's another take on this topic from Johanna Rothman.

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