The Power of motivation to get you out of the Agile Limbo!

OK, you already know you are fastened in an Agile Limbo, by answering the questions I presented — if you do not know what I am talking about, please refer to my original article Are you in an Agile Limbo — and now it is time to talk about the first and most important value for unleashing the power of your teams, MOTIVATION!

You might think I would be that one guy talking about motivation, how is this important for the teams, and bla bla bla. But you heard enough of that. What I will be talking about here, is really HOW to motivate your team to the true WHYs of your company. Remember we talked about the power of Ws, this would give the whole series of articles just for each of them, but let us FOCUS here.

The first step to change things starts with the answer to your question, WHY are you doing this? If the answer is because I was told to, just for the money, or any of these variations, it is clear that your team is not aligned with your or your company goals. Talking about it, do you know what your company goals are? If you do not know the answer, you are in much worse trouble than I thought! Either you or your managers need to work on that, to be able to communicate that clearly to everyone. This STARTS with a clear VISION, and needs to come from above. Needs to be something that transcends and positions way above where you are now, it is like a dream that motivates everyone to achieve it, but let us not lose much time here, as I am assuming at least your company has a VISION right?

Some would say, OK we have a vision, it is on the company’s website and it is shared in that tedious long All-meetings we have monthly, everyone knows it, so what? This brings us to the next step. HOW you translate that VISION to your teams. So, based on this dream-to-come-true, think with your teams, how they can help the company get there? Break the huge vision to your real-world activities. Majority of the teams I have seen never knew what the company vision is, and even how they can contribute to the vision. OK, Eduardo, this is beautiful, but how do I do it? Well, first of all, you need to invite your team to think about it. Take a BREAK from your sprint, and ask the teams how they think they can CONTRIBUTE. Bring that exercise to the sprint retrospective, and ask how did I contribute to the company vision this sprint? You will start noticing that people themselves will start linking the things they do with that vision. And this brings us to the next step, create a vision for your team.

OK, now my team already knows we all want to be XYZ, the best company in XYZ in the world, and we started to see that the feature/deliverable that we do is linked somehow with where we want to be. So what is the Vision for your team? Ask them where they want to be? I received answers like I want our squad to have the best back-end integration with the XYZ platform on the planet. Well… this is a start! And this brings us to the next and final step, break into achievable goals.

Agility is all about iterations, right? It’s all about how we get better, sprint-by-sprint. So, define your team goals. Define what they want to do better, and create achievable milestones for that. It can be… I know the integration component we use sucks… Or, we need to do better testing… And create a series of milestones to get there. Create a vision and break that as many times you need to, to create achievable milestones. For the example above it can be, 1. Decouple the architecture, 2. Make a prototype with the new component, 3.Deploy the new component, and so on. Make sure your team is heard, and take the time to work in their vision also, help them creating achievable milestones that are contributors to the company vision. Do not confine them into, just do what the company says or what is in the sprint. Help them align their visions with the company goals. What really motivates people is the feeling they belong to something, that they are heard, and not just some beautiful words they review in a monthly meeting.

Well… I believe this covers the basics to motivate your teams, so what you think? Are you ready to work on your team's vision, and take motivation to the next level? Let me know in the comments below.

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Eduardo Martins is an Agile leader with more than 15 years of consulting experience delivering projects/programs to all kinds of companies worldwide. Agilist by heart, he is passionate about empowering and improving teams. Eduardo holds a bachelor and post graduations in Information Technology, and is certified in a series of Agile methods, holding certifications like PMP, Scrum Master, Six Sigma Black Belt, and more recently he was recognized as one of the firsts PMI Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Masters in the world. An Agility writer he publishes in specialized media as Medium and He also hosts AgilityTalks in Youtube where he invite practice leaders to talk Agility.

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  • Building a relationship that is trust oriented, is also a key multivational factor in a team. hence, we all have to learn to build a relationship with our team members on a one on base.

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