Feb 17, 2020   Culture, Delivery, Teams

You just can’t get the staff these days

You just can’t get the staff these days

I have a theory that people want to be carpenters.

What do I mean by that? When you look at why people come to work and ignore the obvious point that we all need to earn money, I think that just like the carpenter who makes a beautiful chair, people want to produce something, to stand back and look with pride at their achievement declaring in a loud voice “I did that”. Even better if you know someone is going to use what you have produced and that they themselves will get pleasure from the workmanship that went into the production of it.

When I look back on my own career, the work I enjoyed most wasn’t those times when I could leave at 5 or take a full lunch hour knowing I had an easy afternoon ahead, sure we all need slightly easier periods to recuperate but the times I will look back on with pride and affection are those when I was working with a group of people I respected, fighting together to achieve a tough goal but knowing we could make it with continued drive and focus, when I was part of something bigger that I truly believed in.

The biggest challenge faced by any organisation has and will always be attracting and retaining the best people, “super teams” are the key to driving true transformation and delivering rapid value using agile techniques. Today’s market is tough for employers, there are very few skilled, motivated people who can produce work at the highest quality and those people have options because every company wants them. Not only that but employees no longer buy into the promise of becoming ‘top of the tree’ in exchange for 2 or 3 decades of loyal service, they want and in fact believe they are entitled to more from their career.

Motivating teams to do “the best work of their lives” is not something leaders can do in their spare time, neither is it something we can silently assume all managers and leaders will learn through osmosis without training or coaching. Motivating teams must be central to everything we do within an organisation, videos like the following should be a foundation that all managers must view, understand and be measured on successfully translating into their own environment:

Recently I was asked by a large organisation whether it would be possible to re-train 150 waterfall project managers to become agile project managers. When I asked “are they strong waterfall project managers?” the company responded “not really, they need training”, my response was simple “if they aren’t good waterfall PM’s, what on earth makes you think they will be good agile PM’s? They appear to lack the basic skills needed to manage a portfolio of work and motivate teams, something that is far more exposed in an agile environment”.

Within agile teams attitude is everything, people with the right attitude will not only learn the skills needed to succeed in their role, they will surpass expectations by delivering in ways you didn’t even consider. The perfect agile team member is:

  • Proactive
  • Collaborative
  • Committed to the team goal above their own
  • Prefers ‘doing’ over ‘talking’
  • Willing to try something before saying “it can’t be done”

And if you want innovation from your teams then you need to encourage diversity. Hiring people who have the same background, education, hobbies and experience then expecting them to be innovative is not logical. Those very differences in experience drive innovation through different perspectives and collaboration.

You also need to be sure you know how your recruitment process works. Most target employees are not currently looking for work, even if they are thinking about moving the majority are not proactively looking. That means if you’re fishing for new talent only in those places where people are looking to be hired, you are ignoring the majority of talented, employable people… that doesn’t make sense. Start fishing in the bigger pool, encourage existing employees to bring in the people they have worked with previously who they would love to work with again and use social media to convince people that they would enjoy working for you more than their current employer.

The formula for building effective agile teams is simple:

  1. Don’t wait for people to come to you, go find them.
  2. Hire people with the right attitude.
  3. Give employees the skills they need to do their job well.
  4. Lead them.



You might also be interested in these

Lean tools for identifying waste and improving performance
Jun 04, 2020
BY Sam Rapley

Lean tools for identifying waste and improving performance

Are you interested in transforming your organisation but unclear what improvements will unleash your potential?

Value Stream Mapping and the Five Whys are two Lean tools that can help solve this challenge.

read more
Turning failing agile programmes around
Feb 17, 2020
Culture, Delivery

Turning failing agile programmes around

I spend a lot of my time visiting companies who have implemented agile transformation programmes but complain agile is not delivering the expected …

read more