Getting new Agile team up and running. Part 2: Passing the storm

If we look at the storming team, we think things are falling apart because the team is no longer getting along as they used to, but rather disagreeing on both petty and important issues. Meetings are boring because people do not want to speak up and get attacked for their opinions and suggestions.....

In a previous part, I gave the example of kick-off workshop, which can help the team to pass forming phase.

Now I would like to share some ideas about next - storming – phase.

If we look at the storming team, we think things are falling apart because the team is no longer getting along as they used to, but rather disagreeing on both petty and important issues.

Meetings are boring because people do not want to speak up and get attacked for their opinions and suggestions.

The team loses commitment to its common goal and approach because it certainly does not feel like a team anymore. Members often demonstrate rude and inconsiderate behavior toward each other and then collect and store their resentments or share them in triangles with others.

The trouble with storming is that some teams and groups go into storming and can never figure out how to get out of storming. Fr om the other side, team must go through this phase without being pushed because not all conflicts are bad.

You may help your team by:
  • Building Trust and good relationships between team members. This will help team to overcome repetitive collaboration issues during work process
  • Coaching team members in conflict resolution skills to increase team awareness
  • Explaining team development process idea, so that people understand why problems are occurring, and so that they see that things will get better in the future
  • Facilitating team meetings to minimize dysfunctional behavior.

I would like to focus on first two bullets. Here are some activities you may start fr om for the team in storming phase. They must be divided in several workshops.


Part 1. Understanding that we are different and building working agreements (30 - 40 minutes)

1. At first, we have to align all team members about what behavior is acceptable/unacceptable. “That guy & This guy” activity works perfectly.
2. Write these 2 questions on a flipchart/whiteboard:
  • What things would make this group work well for you?
  • What would make this group a good space for learning?
3. Ask team members to write their answers on sticky notes and put them on a flipchart
4. Ask the group to group notes together in clusters
5. When you have drawn out people's ideas, go through
the list one by one and check for clarification. Discuss how this can be turned into practical ways of working.
6. Check for agreement on all the points fr om the whole group
7. Write down the points on a flipchart.

Keep the agreement for use in future meetings, but check in each time to make sure that everyone is still happy with it. They, for example, may wish to add something to the agreement.

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Part 2. Conflict resolution and self-awareness (40 min)
This part is important for the group to understand their patterns for conflicts resolution and create buy-in to the conflict resolution process.

1. Stand in the center of the room and announce the following to the group:
I am conflict. Consider how you typically react when you experience a personal conflict. Position yourself, in relation to me, somewhere in the room in a way that conveys your initial response to a conflict. Pay attention to your body language as well as your distance fr om the conflict
2. Ask team members these questions:
  • What are some reasons you are standing where you are?
  • If wh ere you are standing signifies your initial reaction, wh ere might you stand after taking some time to think about the conflict?
  • What are some things that would cause you to move?
  • How might our reactions influence the course of the conflict?
3. Split the team in 2 groups.
4. Locate the teams in different areas throughout the room.
5. Ask each team to write the word Conflict on one sheet of paper and the word Resolution on another.
6. Instruct them to tape the sheets of paper apart on a nearby wall.
7 Invite the teams to brainstorm the specific steps necessary to get from “Conflict” to “Resolution.”
8. As the steps are agreed upon, have team members write them on sheets of paper and place them on the wall between the “Conflict” and “Resolution” sheets.
9. Discuss with the team following questions:
  • What has to happen right before “Resolution”?
  • Is there an additional step after “Resolution”? What could be added?
  • How does it benefit us to have a step-by-step approach to conflict?
  • How can we remember these steps in conflict situations?

Part 3. Does productive conflict require trust? (40 min)
Let team try their new working agreements for may be a week or two. They have to get an experience with new rules.

I use Team Trust Canvas as a facilitation instrument for this part. This is powerful activity and can be used for aligning team members and generating points to improvement.
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What is next?
In order to become more effective in Agile Facilitation and Management you may visit our specialized trainings: ICAgile Agile Team Facilitation (ICP- ATF) and Management 3.0

If you are interested in these trainings, let us know at agile@luxoft.com.

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