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When Can You Expect Your Newly Formed Team To Perform?

I can visualize the curious facial expression of the readers out there especially if the reader is a Team lead or Manager or Delivery Head. Jokes apart! It’s a quite common scenario whenever a new chunk of work comes to an IT-Farm. A team is formed which starts focusing towards project execution. Once a team is having visibility of the requirement, a ballpark estimate is given to the client. Looks like the team is all set to perform right from outside? Hence the leadership team (inclusive of the Team lead, managers, delivery head etc.) start expecting output. Thus, unknowingly an unhealthy pressure gets built up on the team. Hold on for a second. Aren’t we expecting that with an introvert mindset? Let’s have a look at the ground reality and consider the below model. A team when formed passes through certain stages. We can consider it as a “Tree life cycle”. Whenever we plant a seed it requires extra care and nourishment. After some days of watering and care sprouts starts coming out followed by which, with time, it becomes strong enough and gets converted to a tree.Similarly, a new team when developed passes through the below 5 important stages- 1. Forming2. Storming3. Norming4. Performing5. Adjourning Let’s talk about different stages of team productivity in details:1st Stage: Forming A team enters the forming stage when it is newly formed. Members of the team meet each other for the first time. There is a minimal visibility around the roles and responsibilities of an individual within the team. Hence members are in an “observing mode”, they observe other members of the team to get the feel around the person and how they can contribute together towards the project goal. Team members tend to behave independently since they do not know each other well enough to unconditionally trust one another. Team leader plays a crucial role in this phase. They should define Project goal and should ensure an individual is having clear visibility around his/her roles and responsibilities. 2nd Stage: StormingPost forming stage, a team enters the storming stage where there are high differences among the members due to less acceptance among the individuals. Members think more from an introvert mindset and from an individual perspective. Productivity from the team member is least, members collide more with each other. In this stage, the team leader should first continuously keep track of the work and resolve conflicts. Exhaustive presence and input are required from the leader to ensure that the team is running on the constructive track. 3rd Stage: NormingPost Storming phase, the team enters the norming phase wherein there is a high acceptance around the decision and differences between the member of the team. The team becomes more mature and there is a high collaboration among the members of the team. They work more as a team rather than an individual contributor. There is a shift from an introvert to extrovert mindset among individuals. The team members start building trust towards other members and actively seek each other out for assistance and input. We can call this phase Pre-Performing phase. The productivity of the team is high compared to the previous two stages. The team leader may not be involved in decision making and problem-solving anymore, as the team is working better together and are holding themselves accountable for the delivery. However, on a need basis, the team leader can pitch in and provide direction to the team. 4th Stage: PerformingOnce a team exits the norming stage, it enters the performing stage. Here the focus is more towards achieving the project goal as a group. Here throughput from team members is at its peak. There is a high trust factor, collaboration, and proactiveness among the members of the team. Hence the team takes quick decisions and solves their problems quickly. Thus, there is a timely delivery from the team. In this stage, a team leader is not involved in decision making and problem-solving. From the performing stage, it is possible to revert to the Storming stage if a member starts working individually and is not a good team player. Hence the team leader keeps a watch to ensure that this stage doesn’t change back to storming stage. 5th Stage: AdjourningA team enters this stage when the assignment gets completed and the team can be dissolved. The entire team celebrates the success with the help of different activities ( For eg: Team party ). The team leader plays a crucial role in this phase. The leader should ensure that the members are appreciated for their valuable contribution. Here is how the performance of the team would look like-The above model is known as “Tuckman Model of team formation”.Bringing it all together“A general thought on how often being a Team leader we think of it and accordingly expect productivity from the team?” Let’s re-analyze the current stage of our newly formed team and help them achieve the “Performing” stage by working constructively along with the members, rather than creating an unhealthy pressure of delivering irrespective of the current stage of the team. Please share your thoughts in the comment section, we can connect on LinkedIn and talk more. If you enjoyed this post, spread it to your connections on LinkedIn or other channels. Thank you!
When Can You Expect Your Newly Formed Team To Perform?
Suraj
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Suraj

Suraj Sharma

Blog Author

Suraj Sharma is working as a Full Stack QA Engineer with leading IT farm and is striving for bringing change in Industry. Strong believer of "Learning or Decaying" mantra. Technology explorer, Blogger and part-time cyclist by passion. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Posts by Suraj Sharma

When Can You Expect Your Newly Formed Team To Perform?

I can visualize the curious facial expression of the readers out there especially if the reader is a Team lead or Manager or Delivery Head. Jokes apart! It’s a quite common scenario whenever a new chunk of work comes to an IT-Farm. A team is formed which starts focusing towards project execution. Once a team is having visibility of the requirement, a ballpark estimate is given to the client. Looks like the team is all set to perform right from outside? Hence the leadership team (inclusive of the Team lead, managers, delivery head etc.) start expecting output. Thus, unknowingly an unhealthy pressure gets built up on the team. Hold on for a second. Aren’t we expecting that with an introvert mindset? Let’s have a look at the ground reality and consider the below model. A team when formed passes through certain stages. We can consider it as a “Tree life cycle”. Whenever we plant a seed it requires extra care and nourishment. After some days of watering and care sprouts starts coming out followed by which, with time, it becomes strong enough and gets converted to a tree.Similarly, a new team when developed passes through the below 5 important stages- 1. Forming2. Storming3. Norming4. Performing5. Adjourning Let’s talk about different stages of team productivity in details:1st Stage: Forming A team enters the forming stage when it is newly formed. Members of the team meet each other for the first time. There is a minimal visibility around the roles and responsibilities of an individual within the team. Hence members are in an “observing mode”, they observe other members of the team to get the feel around the person and how they can contribute together towards the project goal. Team members tend to behave independently since they do not know each other well enough to unconditionally trust one another. Team leader plays a crucial role in this phase. They should define Project goal and should ensure an individual is having clear visibility around his/her roles and responsibilities. 2nd Stage: StormingPost forming stage, a team enters the storming stage where there are high differences among the members due to less acceptance among the individuals. Members think more from an introvert mindset and from an individual perspective. Productivity from the team member is least, members collide more with each other. In this stage, the team leader should first continuously keep track of the work and resolve conflicts. Exhaustive presence and input are required from the leader to ensure that the team is running on the constructive track. 3rd Stage: NormingPost Storming phase, the team enters the norming phase wherein there is a high acceptance around the decision and differences between the member of the team. The team becomes more mature and there is a high collaboration among the members of the team. They work more as a team rather than an individual contributor. There is a shift from an introvert to extrovert mindset among individuals. The team members start building trust towards other members and actively seek each other out for assistance and input. We can call this phase Pre-Performing phase. The productivity of the team is high compared to the previous two stages. The team leader may not be involved in decision making and problem-solving anymore, as the team is working better together and are holding themselves accountable for the delivery. However, on a need basis, the team leader can pitch in and provide direction to the team. 4th Stage: PerformingOnce a team exits the norming stage, it enters the performing stage. Here the focus is more towards achieving the project goal as a group. Here throughput from team members is at its peak. There is a high trust factor, collaboration, and proactiveness among the members of the team. Hence the team takes quick decisions and solves their problems quickly. Thus, there is a timely delivery from the team. In this stage, a team leader is not involved in decision making and problem-solving. From the performing stage, it is possible to revert to the Storming stage if a member starts working individually and is not a good team player. Hence the team leader keeps a watch to ensure that this stage doesn’t change back to storming stage. 5th Stage: AdjourningA team enters this stage when the assignment gets completed and the team can be dissolved. The entire team celebrates the success with the help of different activities ( For eg: Team party ). The team leader plays a crucial role in this phase. The leader should ensure that the members are appreciated for their valuable contribution. Here is how the performance of the team would look like-The above model is known as “Tuckman Model of team formation”.Bringing it all together“A general thought on how often being a Team leader we think of it and accordingly expect productivity from the team?” Let’s re-analyze the current stage of our newly formed team and help them achieve the “Performing” stage by working constructively along with the members, rather than creating an unhealthy pressure of delivering irrespective of the current stage of the team. Please share your thoughts in the comment section, we can connect on LinkedIn and talk more. If you enjoyed this post, spread it to your connections on LinkedIn or other channels. Thank you!
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When Can You Expect Your Newly Formed Team To Perf...

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How To Eliminate Burnout And Make Agile Teams More Productive

A recent survey shows 57% of Tech Workers are burned out by work. Likewise, there are several independent surveys been carried out which depicts the unfortunate part of tech life. A major contributor to the burnout involves wrong estimation and deadline. There are other parameters also involved which comprise of Office Politics, Repetitive work for a long time, Appraisal, etc. Let's keep aside the other parameters and talk around the major contributors of burnout which are-Wrong estimation, andDeadline.It often happens that a non-technical person, say for example, a Non-Technical Manager or Scrum Master or BA or Sales Team, without having visibility around the actual work proposes a ballpark estimate to the client. Often there is a situation where a client does the auction for the project. Hence IT giants in order to get the project give less estimate. Once companies get the project and execution for the same gets started then the member of the team who executes the project is exposed to a tight deadline and hence suffers from burnout. This, in turn, impacts their mental health and life.From a business standpoint, getting clients holds the highest priority. But a general thought which keeps on bugging me from time to time is "why should an employee suffer because of management?".Ideally, before giving the ballpark estimate to the client, a realistic estimate should be collected from engineers who would do the work. There are different ways of coming up with an unbiased realistic estimate.Some of the popular techniques are outlined below.Planning Poker:This is one of the effective ways of coming up with the estimate for a story. It’s been religiously followed by a team which truly works in Agile methodology. Each member of the team is highly involved in the estimation process. Getting everybody in the team involved in the estimation process is critical to come up with an accurate estimate.Planning poker: For a simple Sprint and easy EstimatesPlanning poker is a game that team members play during Sprint Planning meetings to ensure that everybody is contributing and his or her point of view is considered during estimation. It starts with one of the team member(#Moderator) reading the story/requirement, and giving high-level info around the ticket. The team focuses majorly on the WHAT part instead of the HOW part.To start with, each team member is given a set of cards or sticky notes with a number on them. This number represents story point, ideal days, hours or any other units in which team estimate. It is suggested to use Fibonacci but it is not necessary, one can use a specific sequence which may suit for a team. Our team used sticky notes having hours written that would be needed for the story.sub-task, starting 0.50h, 1h, 2h, 4h and so on. It worked for our team. Once the high-level requirement is read aloud and a team has the visibility around “What” needs to be implemented, then starts the game.The fun way for Agile teams to guide sprint planningTeam members are requested to pick up the card with the number written on it. Initially estimates from members to members can vary a lot, and as a result, estimates can be present all over the graph. Once all the members have voted, members having highest and lowest estimates explain their understanding behind coming up with their estimates. The expert having detailed knowledge about the implementation part can point out the hurdles which the team might face while implementing the story. Above discussion among the members brings up the clear picture around the requirement. Post discussion, based on everybody’s agreement, the Scrum master concludes the discussion and assigns a story point to the task. Through this process, members of the teams have clear visibility around the parameter list that needs to be considered while giving the estimation.  T-Shirt Sizes:This mode of estimation is quite popular these days within an Agile team. At times, it becomes difficult to estimate a large backlog having relatively large items. Especially when multiple Scrum teams work on the same product. Stories are estimated on the basics of t-shirt sizes: XS, S, M, L & XL. Like Planning poker, a Moderator reads the story and team focuses of What part. Post understanding What needs to be implemented team comes up with a size written on the card based on their understanding. Similar toPlanning Poker, members of the team collaborate among themselves and come up with a mutually agreed estimate.In addition to the above workflow, T-shirt scale also demands extra effort on the part of the person coordinating the Agile process. Since sizes cannot be put on the story, hence sizes need to be converted to numerical values for the sake of tracking effort over time and charting an estimated velocity for the team.Bringing it all together By using the above estimation techniques, we can come up with an achievable estimate and can accordingly communicate the same to the client.However, from the business point of view, to get the project from the client, we can propose a different figure to them (like it been carried out currently which I feel is wrong). As we have a clear visibility around the estimate, so we can add the buffer resources that will be required for successfully delivering the project.Hence coming up with a realistic estimation with the help of different estimation techniques and proper planning will result in minimizing the burnout of team members and help them live a happy life.Please share your thoughts in the comment section, we can connect on LinkedIn and talk more. If you enjoyed this post, spread it to your connections on LinkedIn or other channels.Thanks!!
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How To Eliminate Burnout And Make Agile Teams More...

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Agility In QA Mindset Is A Key To Success In The Agile Era

Whenever it comes to Agile software development methodology, there are a few Manifesto and Agile Principles that comes to the mind.As we can see, Agile completely believes in“Customer Satisfaction, feedback loop, team collaboration, quick delivery, embracing change request, trust and support, face to face communication, working software, sustainable development, continuous attention, mentioning the simplicity, self-organizing team, reflect and adjust.”The intent behind coming up with Agile looks quite interesting.A quick view on Waterfall modelLet’s talk more from a QA standpoint. As we know, traditionally, in the Waterfall model of Software development workflow would typically look like this.In the traditional software development approach, the complete software development process is splitted into different phases. The output of one phase is acting as a Input for the next phase. This indicates that any phase is incomplete if the previous phase is not completed. That is the reason, the waterfall model is called a sequential model. In sequential approach, the phases flow towards the downward direction through the phases of Requirements, Design, Implementation, Verification, Maintenance as shown in figure above.  In traditional software development process, requirement would be frozen during the initial phase followed by which development of software would begin. Hence, Software testing life cycle will typically look like this-So a Qualitative Analyst (QA) would follow the below workflow-Requirement understanding -> Brainstorming -> Writing Test Scenario -> Writing Test Cases -> Verification -> ReTesting of defect (if any)The above workflow makes sense in the world of Waterfall model. However, with high Agile acceptance in the industry, a shift from Waterfall to Agile Mindset is required. In case of implementing QA Mindset for achieving Agile Manifesto, more of a ‘Shift-Left’ testing is embraced. The entire team is highly involved right from the  Requirement understanding phase to Delivery/Maintenance phase.So the bifurcation between the Software Developer and QA is not there in a team which truly follows Agile. The entire team works together towards a defect tracking instead of finding them and verifying during the verification phase.Steps Towards Developing QA Mindset for Successful Agile ManifestoLet’s talk more from Ground 0 now.During the Grooming phase, Developer and QA pair up with each other and come up with their set of understanding and discuss among themselves around the requirement. Once the brainstorming is done, a list of Open questions are posted to the client for clarification around the same.Post Grooming, the Sprint planning phase kicks in, wherein, based on the answers given by the client, the teams have a better visibility around the requirement. Hence, realistic estimates are given for the User Stories inclusive of Development/Quality Analyst/Business Analyst pairing.Post Planning, the QA starts with writing Test Scenarios/Cases activity. During the course of documentation, QA and Developer team collaborate with each other to ensure they are on the same page. In case of any scenarios that were missed by either of the team, they take care of the same during the Coding/Documentation phase itself. It helps in eliminating the late defect cost.Once the developer is done with Coding and is about to get started with dev testing, a QA member pairs up with the Developer to ensure things are working as expected at a high level.Once the Code is ready and is deployed to QA environment, QA starts with the end-to-end verification of the story. Hence, the possibility of discovering a defect decreases exponentially.QA in Waterfall vs. QA in AgileIn the Waterfall model, QA used to get appreciated based on the number of defects that were found during the verification phase. As a result, somehow teams use to work in a silo which would result in the change of the entire codebase, sometimes the architecture itself. As a result, cost of project would go up significantly as described in the below image.On the contrary, in case of a team which follows Agile truly, a Developer/QA gets appreciation based on Minimal code changes and less number of defects found. There is a high acceptance of Shift-left testing in the industry because of the amount of benefit it has brought in terms of effort saving for rework.So, Agile Testing is not a unique way. It needs to integrate successfully QA Mindset into Agile Manifesto. It is a kind of change in the mindset which does not happens overnight. Along with that, it requires knowledge, skill-set, and proper coaching. Hence, a shift in the Agile QA mindset is required to ensure a high throughput from a team. This article is focused on changing a mindset to Agile by providing the tips for implementing QA Mindset into the Agile Manifesto.Please share your thoughts in the comment section, we can connect on LinkedIn and talk more. If you enjoyed this post, it would be great if you’d help it spread it to your connections on LinkedIn or other channels.
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Agility In QA Mindset Is A Key To Success In The A...

Whenever it comes to Agile software development me... Read More