Get Personal. Resolve to invest more time in finding out some of the personal, but not intrusive, details about your team members. Birthdays, anniversaries, spouse and children names, hobbies, favorite color, favorite food and snacks, dreams and goals, etc. You don’t need to blatantly seek this information, just keep your ears open and write down when people mention something that may be of interest later. Keep a journal to store them all. I use a tool called Evernote and each person has their own note in a folder called People. Between the Evernote iPhone app, desktop app, and website, I am never without this information.
Once you have begun to capture some of the details about your team, use it. When you stumble upon a website or blog post that highlights a hobby, email it to them. Make a big deal of the important dates in people’s life – sing Happy Birthday at the end of your stand up meeting, decorate a cube, have everyone sign a card, go out for lunch. Bring in some of your teams favorite foods…nothing brings people together faster than food. Before one-on-one meetings with your team, pull up the details you’ve captured and ask how specific family members are doing. This list can go on and on I’m sure you get the idea. Often times we get caught up in the mechanics of Agile or Scrum and forget the most important aspect of what makes this work – people.
Fix Something Big. Determine to solve one of the big and nagging organizational impediments that has been bothering you and your team. This doesn’t mean that you need to do all of the solving but pull the right people together to make this happen – and start now. Are there still silos between roles, areas, positions, or people? Get the right people together and solve it. Is there still cumbersome process or overhead in place to get thing accomplished efficiently? Solve it. Again, this list can go on and on but do some detective work by looking through your retrospective cards from the past year and find common themes. I can’t think of a better way to get on your bosses good side in 2012 than this!
Try Something New. Resolve to take away any drudgery that has set in with your team by trying new things with your daily interactions. Change up the task wall a bit by adding some color or lights. Look for new facilitation techniques to try during your retrospective meetings. Move one of your planning meetings off site (a local library or park would be a cheap approach). It’s easy for any of us to let some of these crucial sessions fall into the mundane but find a way to keep people active and engaged.
Happy New Year Everyone!