Tip No. 4: Know the details, but don't get into the details

The fourth tip for successfully creating and leading agile data management development teams.

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A key success factor in agile data management is self-managing teams. As a leader of self-managing teams, you need to develop a unique set of skills, moving from command and control to communication and enablement. 

This is the fourth installment of my series entitled “Five Tips for Leading Agile Data Management Development Teams.” Here I discuss Tip No. 4: Know the details, but don't get into the details.

Hands off! This can be the most difficult thing a leader needs to learn, especially if you have actively managed, or even performed, the types of activities your team is involved in. You need to balance facilitation, guidance and support without being directive. And never do the work your team is responsible for!

As a leader, you’re expected to know what tasks are being worked on and how the team is progressing, but you need to stay out of the details, which the team should be managing for themselves. If you get too far into the details and are too prescriptive, your staff will lose any sense of job satisfaction and become unmotivated. 

Give just the right amount of guidance and support, which will be different with each team and team member, making your job even more challenging. Some key thoughts in this area:

  • Facilitate, but don’t direct.
  • Turn challenges into valuable learning experiences.
  • Resist the urge to grab control when the team is facing difficulties.
  • Don’t ever do a team member’s job — even when you’d prefer to get it done and move on.
  • Keep your eyes open but your hands off.
  • Ask the right questions, and let the team make its own decisions and come up with its own solutions.

In the end, you need to be viewed as a help rather than a hindrance. If you have the right team, they will always manage through their challenges, and they will know when to pull you in for guidance. One of the most rewarding moments can be when your team seeks you out instead of pushing you away.

You can find links to all the blog posts in this series on my author page on CIO.com.

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