Those Satisfying Moments

September 26, 2009

Like everyone else, I have my good days and my bad days. I always need to remind myself that psychologically, we all need to celebrate even the little victories that occur in our lives.

As a manager, there are times when my day is absolutely made. Like having someone that excels at something, such as being super responsive to a critical customer issue that merits a spot award (we do these as publicly as possible). Or when someone has really raised their game and I am able to provide a large merit increase or promotion.

Having your day made is sometimes a work in progress, one that starts with dealing with “issues.” Recently, we’ve had some challenges with our implementation of agile/scrum development. Two teams in particular were working on a critical product release, but the teams were clearly struggling with meeting their own commitments – they estimated the work, but each 3-week sprint always ended up leaving us stakeholders holding our collective breaths. Would they make it?

It was never certain if the teams were going to meet their own commitments; and if they did, they were working overtime to do it. Something was wrong with this picture. Even as managers who weren’t on the teams, we could tell that certain things were lacking.

Despite the fact that we had previously brought in an agile coach and that we never refused the purchase of any books on agile or software development, it was determined that we needed coaching for these two teams. Budgets and politics being what they are – particularly in this tight economy – it was determined that to designate a couple of us development managers as coaches versus spending money that we didn’t have set aside in our budget.

Within a span of weeks, the team that I was coaching went from being challenged in meeting their commitments and working overtime to do it to beating their commitments, taking on additional tasks, and working regular hours! And no, their original estimates were not modified. They simply started working better as a team. Talk about one of those “Yes!” moments!

What changed for this team? I’ll post that in a couple days…