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30 Nov 2015

Build your own Agile project teams

by Melanie Franklin

How can I build Agile project teams in my department?” is a question I get asked by professional project managers on webinars and conferences that I speak at. As a large part of my time is training and coaching people I thought it would be helpful to provide an outline for a workshop I ran recently. Feel free to adapt it to your own specific requirements but it will act as a good starting point if you are thinking of building your own Agile teams.

Workshop outline

This workshop is part of a series of events supporting those who are interested in incorporating agile principles into their project management approach. This event will help project and programme managers understand how to enhance their existing team building and team leadership practices to include greater emphasis on the agile elements of self-directed teams and collaboration with stakeholders.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this workshop you will have

  • deepened your understanding of the team formation process and your role in shaping and guiding the experience of team members to form a high performance team
  • created your own definitions of self-directed teams and collaborative working practices relevant to the culture of your organisation
  • developed an action plan of team leadership activities that will enable you to alter the balance of responsibilities between yourself and the teams that you lead to increase their autonomy for task delivery


Workshop Content

Session 1

In this session we will take an in-depth look at the psychology of team formation, and the factors that lead to clear understanding of what is required, how these responsibilities should be allocated to team members and how the processes that will ensure the team is able to function effectively.

Specifically we will examine:

  • The Team Formation Model from Bruce Tuckman
  • The Team Effectiveness Profile from Glaser and Glaser

The output from this session will be a Team Charter template that enables you to define the vision, values, goals, roles and processes that apply to your team.

Session 2

We will explore the concepts of self-direction, empowerment, delegation and collaboration to establish what these mean within your organisation and what expectations you have for the behaviour and attitude of each of your team members.

We will identify how the concept of self-direction challenges the traditional responsibilities for the project manager, as detailed planning of the work is passed to individual team members.

The output from this session will be detailed role guides for team members, specifying the responsibilities for planning the work, undertaking the work with limited supervision and defining the level of detail they will provide to their manager in terms of progress achieved and issues encountered.

Session 3

In this session we will examine how to allocate the work across the team to ensure that there is a balance between the needs of the individual, the needs of the organisation and the needs of the team itself.

We will look at the role of personality and individual preferences in helping teams assign tasks that meet the needs of the individual skills and capabilities of each member. This will include a review of models including:

  • Belbin team roles
  • Personality profiling tools including Myers-Briggs type indicators, NLP preferences and McClellands motivating factors

The output from this session will be a checklist of points to consider when encouraging team members to take responsibility for certain tasks. This checklist helps you to ensure that individuals are assigned to work for which they have the greatest capability, as self-directed teams expect team members to be ‘self-starters’ who require limited direction on how to get their work done.

Session 4

In this session we will concentrate on the leadership role of the project or programme manager. For self-directed teams there is greater emphasis on leading, directing and establishing the expected achievements. Less attention is given to defining exactly how the work will be undertaken and how specific tasks will be allocated to team members.

This will include a review of:

The leadership models from Daniel Goleman and Stephen Covey as the basis for exploring your own views of the role of leaders

Definition of the concepts of adaptive and connective leadership, providing examples of effective leadership behaviours.

The output from this session is the creation of a personal leadership strategy. Using the materials provided in the workshop, you will define the leadership activities that will help you to form and manage your agile project team.


How to learn more?

If you have an understanding of agile or a qualification in Agile Project Management then using this template should be fairly easy as the content is covered in depth on the course. However if you want to know more then check out my webinars which cover a range of topics and practical advice on using Agile to deliver benefits faster.

Melanie Franklin
30th November 2015