Agile is largely about interactions between individuals so it’s very important for agile coaches and facilitators to really understand team facilitation. Oftentimes, managing a team, especially during times of conflict, is the hardest part of being a coach. For that reason I decided to create a mini blog series discussing team facilitation tips for coaches. Two additional posts will follow this one—self-awareness and emotional intelligence, then conflict resolution. Keep an eye out for those.
Tip #1: Embody the Agile Principles.
So what exactly does that mean? Well if we take a look at the Agile Manifesto, we see that it discusses the importance of people, product, and feedback, and since this blog series is all about team facilitation we’re focusing on the people aspect that Agile really believes in. Facilitation is not about the particular process employed by your team. I’m not going to highlight some magic formula that you can take and plug in to your team. There is no silver bullet. Rather, it is about embodying the principles of agility, bringing them to your work every day, and teaching them to the team by example.
As a facilitator, you should believe in the power of teams. That means that you believe a team working together can achieve more than a group of individuals working on their own. Therefore, don’t allow individuals to dominate the discussion; ensure quieter voices are heard. Always strive for consensus and encourage collaboration and debate between team members. Collaboration and debate allow for new and innovative ideas and give teams the chance to think through problems and their solutions before even implementing them. The only time you as a facilitator should step in and voice your opinion is when the team asks for it or when a team decision could be catastrophic. Allow the team to self-organize and self-regulate in order to get the most benefit out of it.
Your role as the facilitator or coach is also to maintain neutrality between individuals and teams. The purpose of the facilitator role is to get the team to reach consensus and to allow all viewpoints to be heard. Actively promoting one idea over another can hurt morale and drive important alternative voices out of the discussion. You want to create a space where all ideas can be actively discussed, so it’s important that you do not judge team members’ comments. You may also be required to mediate conflict during a meeting, but we will dive deeper into that idea on the third blog of this mini series.
That is it for the first facilitation tip for coaches! Embody the Agile Principles might seem like an easy first step, and it is easy enough to understand but it does take time to implement correctly. Keep an eye out for the next blog in the mini series that will discuss self-awareness and emotional intelligence. If you are interested in more resources for training courses, explore our dedicated training site—training.coveros.com.