Empowering Facilitators

When Coaching/Facilitating/Leading/Managing (I don't like this last term!) teams - one thing becomes apparent, essential and required. As a Team Leader, the need to feel empowered and be able to take action in a way that you know you'll get all the support needed in order to carry your vision through, and if necessary have upper management step in to help set standards and expectations is critical. I recently encountered a Scrum Master (Agile term for "Team Facilitator") who was consistently pushing to empower a team to become more collaborative and self organized. However, the ongoing battle was that each team member reported to different managers, so they had their "own set of rules". Due to this inconsistency no matter what method was presented to try and result in a more cohesive team, each team member could get away with breaking the Team Agreement rules. This became a destructive cycle over many Sprints ("Iterations") ultimately resulting in unsuccessful Sprints. The Scrum Master had repeatedly expressed the concern to upper management while hoping (and praying!) that by doing their best at facilitating, the team would see the benefits of working as a cohesive unit with a set of disciplined rules to abide by (keeping in mind these rules can change if they do not bring value to the team). However, due to the organizational structure, reporting out to multiple managers wasn't going to change! Finally it was explicitly requested that intervention from upper management had to take place otherwise the project was doomed to failure no matter how much facilitation went into the team. Discussions to have upper management more aligned took place and it now seems the team members have become more collaborative and willing to take on more "Team" V's "Individualistic" roles. Lesson Learned: In trying to make teams become more unified, it has to begin at the top and an example should be set. The same rules need to apply to EVERYONE and those trying to help accomodate these rules need all the support necessary from the first instance to be empowered and take action to help achieve team goals. Happy facilitating! Please leave comments with other suggestions or examples you may have encountered.

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