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Want To Keep Strong Performers? Implement Agile Methodologies

By  Michele Eichhorn Michele Eichhorn  on 2016-02-16 08:00:00  |  Featured in  Communications
Michele Eichhorn
Posted By Michele Eichhorn
in Communications
on 2016-02-16 08:00:00

Agile.Methodologies.2016.jpgEmployers spend upward of 150 percent of annual employee compensation on it. What is it? Turnover. Companies spend a great deal of revenue to find, train, and maintain a competent workforce. According to Forbes, there are several contributors to losing the best employees.

  • Lack of effective motivation: Intrinsic motivators, such as contributing to a well-performing product or partaking in fulfilling experiences, are more motivating to high performers than extrinsic motivators like cash compensation.
  • No insight into the future: Employers must communicate possible career paths with high-functioning employees, whether for lateral or upward movement within a company. Often, employees aren’t aware of their options within the company and will seek mobilization externally.
  • Lack of flexibility: Regarding work-life balance, employees need to be able to break away from office tedium to manage life and stimulate creativity. Pilot programs enabling employees to enjoy flexibility in schedule and environment promote higher productivity.

Companies will always lose high-functioning employees from time-to-time for various reasons beyond leadership’s control. However, an organization experiencing an unusually high - and frequent - number of departing personnel may need to strongly evaluate how implementing a new process into the organization's operational structure could make a positive change.

Implementing Agile

Implementing Agile assists companies and teams in determining what issues are leading to high rates of turnover by drawing attention to weak links. 

For example, if one team member is performing poorly in a group of outstanding team members, in some environments that poor performer can get through simply on the success, merits and performance of his or her high-functioning colleagues.

However, in Agile, a weak team member is isolated and identified on a regular, if not daily, basis when status is reported and reviewed. If he or she is not completing tasks as expected, the entire participating organization will recognize the flaw immediately or at least within a short amount of time. At the same time, when a team member may be low performing, assistance, collaboration and support from fellow team members can elevate the low performer's skillsets. When opportunities for team collaboration and self-organization are apparent, team members are encouraged to resolve issues efficiently while also sharing a sense of investment in the outcome of a product and ultimately in the success of the organization. 

Agile practitioners must be committed to continuous improvement in quality and cost-effectiveness, which means that every development is analyzed for lessons that can be used to improve policies and working practices. This analysis and learning are not the responsibility of a small number of senior practitioners - they are fundamental components of the workload of all agile practitioners. Furthermore, the learning is not just appropriate to one team in an organization - all are essential, from project managers to quality assurance personnel to IT teams, software architects and any and all actively engaged personnel. 

Agile.Methodologies.Teams.Change.Management.jpgAgile Is Teams ... Teams of Teams

The basic organizational unit of delivery in agile development is a small team. 

Managing agile teams involves walking a fine line between keeping productive teams together and moving individuals between teams to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas. 

If people are moved too frequently, the teams fail to develop into highly productive units - if people are not moved between teams enough, then each team starts to become isolated and diverges from the other teams.

It is important to note that the physical location of teams is much more important with agile methods than with conventional approaches to development. 

An integral component of the agile methodologies is the concept of continuous delivery. Continous delivery is built on the coupling of consistency along with the freedom to explore new ideas and methods. According to the Agile Alliance, continuous delivery, or continous deployment, can be thought of as an extension of continuous integration, aiming at minimizing lead time, the time elapsed between development writing one new line of code and this new code being used by live users, in production. 

To achieve continuous deployment, a team relies on infrastructure that automates and instruments the various steps leading up to deployment, so that after each integration successfully meeting these release criteria, the live application is updated with new code. Instrumentation is needed to ensure that any suggestion of lowered quality results in aborting the deployment process, or rolling back the new features, and triggers human intervention. The main benefits claimed for continuous deployment arise as a result of reducing lead time, with two main Agile.Methodologies.Teamwork.jpgeffects:

  • Earlier return on investment for each feature after it is developed, which reduces the need for large capital investments.
  • Earlier feedback from users on each new feature as it is released to production, which affords techniques such as parallel (or A/B) testing to determine which of two possible implementation is preferred by users.

The Agile Energy

It's important to keep in mind, the full benefits of agile cannot be achieved without the full support of business leaders, management and the user community.

Overall, if an enterprise does not command a collective, immediate energy for working more efficiently in a new way, the implementation of agile will require tighter planning and strategy - achievable with calculated agile expertise fueling agile adoption. 

For more information on Agile, visit Agile Alliance, a nonprofit organization committed to advancing Agile development principles and practices.

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Michele Eichhorn

Michele Eichhorn

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With almost 25 years in the IT industry, Michele started her career in engineering. But with all of the roles she held (desktop engineer, systems engineer, network engineer) she felt there were a few things missing; chief amongst those were communication and efficiency. That led Michele down the path of knowledge management, sharing and process efficiency. She moved into process improvement in 1999 with certification in RUP (Rational Unified Process) and in 2000 as an ITIL instructor. In 2001 she was part of the team that created the training program for Microsoft's MOF (Microsoft Operations Framework). Michele then moved in knowledge management and held the position of Senior Knowledge Manager for one of the largest IT companies in the world where she increased their portal adoption by over 20,000 employees. In 2009 Michele was introduced to Agile and reluctantly entered the world of Agile Scrum. But as she worked with the methodology and saw the increase in efficiency, the satisfaction of the clients and the speed with which solutions were delivered, she was hooked. Almost seven years later, Michele is an Agile advocate and coach working with some large telecommunications and pharmaceutical clients in the area.

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