Self-organising team #howto — share the load!

As Scrum Master and leaders we should strive to make our team self-organising, taking responsibilities and finding better ways to work. I was wondering how to incorporate this into my team. Leading by example is one way, but it’s almost never enough. Being a good facilitator yourself does not mean that the team could facilitate the meetings on their own. Being good at removing impediments does not mean the team would take responsibility of removing impediments on their own. Asking them all the time what they could do better does not mean they would be asking the same question when you’re not with them. They may even become afraid that without you they would be lost. They need to get their hands dirty, they need to learn what being a leader, a facilitator and a responsible team member is about. They need to learn that if you take leadership you will struggle at moments, but this is the only way to grow yourself and your team. They need to understand that as a leader you need to let go of control and let people find their ways.

My initial idea how to put this in place was around facilitation of retrospectives. I started asking team members to facilitate retrospectives. They usually were eager to try, and even though they usually were lost in the beginning, they typically managed to get really good results. However, some people in the team were not feeling strong enough to facilitate the whole retrospective session. “How could I help them?” I asked myself and came up with the idea of shared retro facilitation. I booked a big room without any tables (you can always move the table to the corner if needed) and we sit in a circle. Instead of traditional “write tonnes of post-its and stick them onto the whiteboard”, I asked the team to write only two post-its — one describing a good thing that happened during the sprint and one with a thing they were disappointed about. Everyone put their post-its into a bag, we mixed them and passed the bag around. Every team member would draw one post-it and facilitate discussion about it. It was really amazing to see how depending on the facilitator the discussion changed! From very analytical approach when we tried to get to the root cause of the issue to strategic thinking when we were almost deciding how to change the company structure.

No, you are not irreplaceable and even if you are, you should try to make yourself not needed in the team! Make sure the team learns all the skills they need to become self-sufficient. This way they would achieve better results and you would be able to start helping another team. Wouldn’t that be great?

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