Identifying and hiring “A” players is not an easy task, but it can be made easier if you know what characteristics to look for. Here are the typical characteristics of “A” players, along with a description of the impact “A” players make as you create and lead self-managing teams.
‘A’ player characteristic
Impact to self-managing teams
Holistic: an “A” player is one who has the ability to look at the big picture and then make decisions and offer solutions that solve for that big picture.
This is especially important in agile environments, where development is done incrementally. Having the ability to envision the big picture while developing user story by user story is a skill that is highly beneficial.
Enthusiastic: “A” players have positive outlooks and positive dispositions. They are able to motivate others with their can-do attitudes.
A positive outlook can be contagious. No matter how successful a team is, there are always challenges to face. Having “A” players who face these in a positive manner will move the needle.
Adaptable: “A” players are able to take on roles and responsibilities beyond what they were originally hired to do. They have the self-confidence to step outside of their comfort zones. They can change course and adapt as required.
By definition, self-managing teams in agile development environments are cross-functional groups where individuals work together to manage the team workload and shift work among themselves based on need and best fit. Team members who are comfortable playing multiple roles, depending on what needs to get done, are ideally suited.
Reliable: “A” players are consistently reliable. They keep their word and they follow through.
Reliability is key to a self-managing team, since each individual must contribute to each release in order for it to be successful.
Learners: “A” players will continually invest in themselves, increasing their knowledge and skills, bringing these to bear in the workplace as needed.
Agile requires ongoing improvement. “A” players who are willing to continue to bring new ideas, tools and solutions to the group will enable continuous improvement.
Team players: We live in an interconnected environment. “A” players understand the importance of being able to contribute to a team while also being able to rely on others in that team.
Agile teams desperately require individuals who are team players, who understand that the team’s collective wisdom produces the best results.
There are many other characteristics that are valuable when looking for your “A” players, such as analytical skills, judgment, ability to make decisions, skill level and experience, integrity and strong communication skills. Each of these will help to improve the overall quality and results of the self-managing team.
As a leader of “A” players, ensure that you empower them and provide the right environment. A good team is a great place to be — it’s exciting, stimulating, supportive and successful. This will attract the “A” players you should be looking for. And, with the right team members, your good team can become a great team — one that you can trust to be successful at self-managing.
The next article in this series will focus on Tip No. 2: Create an Enabling Team Structure.
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Nancy Couture has more than 30 years of experience leading enterprise data management at Fortune 500 companies and midsize organizations. Her focus has been on enterprisewide data management architecture, data governance, data quality, data warehousing and business intelligence capabilities.
Nancy recently moved into consulting as delivery enablement lead at Datasource Consulting, a Denver-based firm focused on delivering on all aspects of enterprise information management.
Previously, Nancy was vice president of business intelligence at SquareTwo Financial in Denver. She and her team successfully developed and utilized agile methodologies in building out enterprisewide solutions, including an enterprise data warehouse, a robust analytics and reporting environment, and integrated analytics solutions.
Before her time at SquareTwo, Nancy was vice president of data management solutions at UnitedHealth Group in Connecticut, where she developed and managed three enterprise-level data warehouses for healthcare analytics over the course of 30-plus years. In that role, Nancy was recognized for her leadership and ability to execute innovative approaches to data management.
Nancy has presented at many conferences on data management topics over the years, owns a patent in data mapping technologies, and has published several articles for the TDWI Business Intelligence Journal. In 2007 and again in 2015, her respective teams won the TDWI Best Practices Award in Enterprise Data Warehousing.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Nancy Couture and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications Inc. or its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.