Many of the clients we partner with at Cirrus are interested in developing more agile ways of working across their organisations. In the first of three posts, Cirrus Account Director Sacha Joyce explores how you can improve agile team working across your business.
Agile team working is a topic I explored in my recent MSc in Occupational Psychology at Birkbeck College, University of London. I believe that teams are the beating heart of organisations. Research shows that how they learn together can play a critical role in levels of creativity and innovation within organisations. The humble team meeting is an example of colleagues coming together to reflect and learn. Not all meetings, however, are created equal. My MSc research highlighted a number of ways to make these meetings successful, such as the importance of having a time restriction, to encourage colleagues to direct their energy towards where it can have the most impact.
This is echoed by Dr Simon Hayward in The Agile Leader, who notes that many of us simply spend too much time in meetings. It’s easy for days to become a constant procession of hour-long commitments, leaving little time for reflection, informal conversation, or strategic thinking.
Five top tips for agile team meetings
1. Importance of purpose: ideally a meeting purpose should be shared in advance, to allow everyone time to think about how they can contribute. Agree some ground rules for staying focussed – for example, respectfully calling out when a colleague is veering off course.
2. Regular, informal huddles are a great way for the team to stay on track and address issues as they arise. Keep them short and practical. Restricting meeting time can help to create a sense of focus and respects colleagues’ other work commitments.
3. Colleagues should feel comfortable speaking up without fear. In a virtual environment it might be harder to read the room, so be more explicit about inviting contribution from others. Encourage feedback on the meeting to explore how they can be made more valuable for everyone.
4. Appoint a meeting facilitator. It does not always have to be the most senior person in the team. Provided the meeting purpose is clear, rotating this role can work well.
5. Build in enough time for next steps to be agreed, thinking about actions within the team and across the enterprise. Meetings quickly lose credibility without subsequent action and this may require sharing information or asking for contribution from other business areas.
At the heart of agile team work is learning. In my next post, I’ll look at opportunities for team learning in more depth.