Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Building up a team from scratch – the first steps

You enter the room. Five persons are curious looking at you. Two of them long term Digitec Galaxus employees assigned to the new built department called Business Development. Two of them new hires, one an experienced project manager, one a graduate from university. The fifth a trainee that will work for a trainee time of 6 months in my department. I am myself a new hire with only small knowledge about Digitec Galaxus history and culture.

I had been announced as expert in agile, lean, portfolio management. I had been announced as the one who will help to identify and establish the right way to work and define the portfolio and development processes; as the person that will improve the existing home grown agile way of working into something that enables the next step of growth, while preserving the flexible startup spirit of Digitec Galaxus.  I could feel the one and only one question in this room: “who are you and what will it be like to work with you as my new boss?”

Well it was not that easy this first meeting. In a first round we exchanged our expectations and experiences. Becki was asking for leadership and support as she was missing this for quite a while. Andi and Marcel wanted to develop themselves and act in interesting jobs. Martin, the experienced project manager demanded to take responsibility, Cornelia coming from university wanted to learn and start her carrier. We discussed values and identified our common ground. The common ground was trust – which we need to create – an interesting job with the chance to learn and build up competences, no micro management, open communication and self-organization, mutual respect. We discussed that self-organization and self-discipline are the two sides of the same coin. This common ground was a good place to start from. I marked my first task of my first backlog story – to find a good start as head of my new team – with done.

I knew that the hard part follows. To develop the common ground into a living entity, a team that represents, lives and develops the values that we identified as important.

What we did is to write down our team values on cards, one card per value. Becki proposed to select a random card for the value of the day every working day. Now the value of the day is visible in our team space on a wall and still is changes every day. Oh yes, meanwhile we added new cards. Some are fun like “homemade cookies” or “sleep ‘till noon” – even members from other team started to add cards, which is fun.

Our Team Value of the Day for today: a creative environment 

Meanwhile we introduced Kudo Cards (read the management workout from Jurgen Appelo). As most of us love coffee and the others at least drinks tea we started a regular but still spontaneous morning coffee where we share our weekend or discuss the most important issues in our team. We defined a team ceremony, our monthly BD team meeting for our team retrospectives and to define measures to develop ourselves. We found and agreed about some means and informal ceremonies that support us to build up trust and share experiences. I treat all of this as an important steps to form a motivated team. Let's see how everything develops...

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