Have you heard this one?
A man goes to his doctor and says “Doc, it hurts when I lift my arm over my head.”
Too which the doctor replies, “Then don’t do that.”
As coaches, we are asked to diagnose a team’s ailments. And while most of times the solution is the application of various agile practices, sometimes the solution is much simpler. Take for instance:
QA Engineers making heroic but stressful efforts at the end of a sprint to close out stories. The Product Owner prepping stories the night before a Release Planning meeting. The Dev team continually committing to more and more work that they stress over, pushing them beyond a ‘Sustainable Pace’.
All of these share one thing in common: stress.
In agile, if we’re stressed, then we are doing it wrong.
When stress on the team manifests itself, something in the Agile process or the team itself is wrong.
In the above examples, there are ways the team can work better that does not involve last minute heroic efforts by the QA Engineer, the Product Owner. The QA Engineers need to speak up to the team and work to resolve the problem that results in a number of stories being closed at the end of the sprint. The Product Owner could ask the team for help with prepping stories, as story writing and prep is something the team can do and owns. In the case of the Dev team working beyond a ‘Sustainable Pace’, they need to be coached on what this means and what an acceptable level of work to commit to looks like for them.
Emotions, including stress, are signs of how a team is functioning. Negative emotions, including stress, are signs that something is not working right, either with Agile or with the team.
What emotions is your team exhibiting and what are they telling you?