In the Scrum world, it is rare that complete and detailed descriptions of how each individual activity should be carried out in a project are provided. Much of this is left in the hands of the project team.
This is because the team will know better how to solve the problems that arise, since it works on the project every single day.
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This is why in the Scrum method, for example, a planning meeting exposes the desired results, instead of defining in detail the activities as it would be the case in most other project management methods.
Scrum relies on a self-organized and cross-functional team.
The Scrum team organizes itself as there is no general team leader who decides which person will do which task or how a problem will be solved. These are all issues that are decided by the team as a whole.
What does the Scrum methodology provide?
Scrum methodology requires that projects proceed through a series of sprints.
In line with an agile methodology, sprints are scheduled monthly or, even more commonly, every two weeks.
A sprint begins with a planning meeting, where team members receive a list of activities to be performed during the sprint. Later, these activities are organized – by the team – and performed during the sprint.
At the end of a sprint, the team reviews the work done and analyses any factors that could influence the next sprint, as well as reflecting on the sprint that has just ended, and identifying any opportunities to improve.
It is a fact that, in any project, it is possible to accomplish more by working in teams rather than individually.
In a study conducted by Salesforce on workplace challenges, 86% of project managers agreed that failing to work together as a team was the main cause of project failure.
Teamwork is therefore an essential element for a successful organization.
The Scrum methodology can be defined as a team-based approach to delivering business value.
5 ways to improve teamwork with the Scrum method
1. Teach the principles of self-management
Scrum teams are designed to manage themselves, which means that they are able to perform activities during a sprint, without constant supervision or direction from a project manager.
This level of self-sufficiency varies based on the team’s familiarity with the Scrum principles and the complexity of the project.
Leadership and management are certainly necessary to initially establish the indications and objectives within the team structure and towards the project.
For Scrum teams, the project manager is simply responsible for the initial stages of a sprint, identifying the best team structure and helping to improve its development capacity.
Then it is up to the team members to make sure everyone is on track and take action if some members slow down or stay behind.
It is therefore important, in the Scrum methodology, that the project manager encourages the team to take responsibility and manage challenges in groups, rather than bringing their problems directly to a supervisor.
2. Work on internal communication skills
A Scrum team cannot function without communication. This is in fact an essential element for the trust and collaboration of the team.
Team members must be able to openly share victories, losses, and any internal problems that could prevent the team from finishing an activity during a sprint.
This kind of transparency requires that all members are able to communicate their ideas and concerns clearly in an appropriate manner.
In order to keep everyone informed, many Scrum teams use project management softwares to stay in constant contact with others.
3. Dedicate yourself to retrospective
With retrospective we mean the time when team members meet after each sprint to talk about everything that happened during that specific period of time.
Members can raise any challenges encountered that have hindered their progress or can suggest ideas to make things more fluid and easy during the next session.
With retrospective is not meant a moment of complaint or where to list excuses for poor performance, instead it is a brainstorming session, where everyone should offer ideas for positive actions that could improve future results.
A project manager should inspire this moment within the organization by holding meetings where everyone can share ideas and different points of view.
4. Focus on individuality
This advice seems to go against the concept of teamwork, however, individuality plays an important role in the success of a Scrum team.
One of the main values in the Scrum methodology is that this says that each member is important as an individual and, if a person is in difficulty, this will affect the entire project and organization.
While sprinting is definitely an overall team effort, many single tasks are assigned to individuals.
Teams and project managers must remember that each person operates differently: Some are more independent, while others want more interaction with their leaders and collaborators.
5. Focus on collaborative decision-making
Scrum teams are responsible for determining the workload during a sprint and assigning tasks within the group.
In addition, they must also decide collaboratively how to handle internal problems that may arise.
Of course, Scrum teams will not agree on everything, so they must also be willing to negotiate and compromise for the overall good of the team.
This type of collaborative decision making is very useful for both Scrum and other organizations.
Studies have shown that when companies involve employees in decision-making processes, the results are better.
By involving all team members in the decision-making process, employees feel more powerful and important, which in turn increases their productivity and morale levels.
It is difficult for workers to stick to a strategy that they have not planned – at least in part – especially if they do not agree with practices or find them inefficient.
It is therefore necessary to find ways to include everyone in the planning process and encourage teams to find a solution that works for everyone.
Encouraging a culture of teamwork within the organization that follows the Scrum methodology could be the key to long-term success, but it is not an easy task.
Organizations are made up of people from different backgrounds and cultures and personalities may not always fit well in a group context.
Therefore, it is up to project managers to set an example of how teams should operate by implementing practices that encourage collaboration.