This is a continuation of my series "Five Tips for Leading Agile Data Management Development Teams." Here, I discuss the first tip: Hire "A" players who will build the foundation for a great self-managing team.\n\nWhat is an 'A' player?\u00a0\n\nTypically, the top 10% of talent available for a particular position would be considered \u201cA\u201d players, according to Topgrading by Bradford Smart.\u00a0 \u201cA\u201d players clearly stand out above the rest.\u00a0\n\nHow do you identify and hire 'A' players?\n\nIdentifying and hiring \u201cA\u201d 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 \u201cA\u201d players, along with a description of the impact \u201cA\u201d players make as you create and lead self-managing teams.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n'A' player characteristic\n\n\n\n\nImpact to self-managing teams\n\n\n\n\n\n\nHolistic: an \u201cA\u201d 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.\n\n\n\n\nThis 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.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nEnthusiastic: \u201cA\u201d players have positive outlooks and positive dispositions. They are able to motivate others with their can-do attitudes.\u00a0\n\n\n\n\nA positive outlook can be contagious. No matter how successful a team is, there are always challenges to face. Having \u201cA\u201d players who face these in a positive manner will move the needle.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAdaptable: \u201cA\u201d 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.\n\n\n\n\nBy 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.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nReliable: \u201cA\u201d players are consistently reliable. They keep their word and they follow through.\u00a0\n\n\n\n\nReliability is key to a self-managing team, since each individual must contribute to each release in order for it to be successful.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nLearners: \u201cA\u201d players will continually invest in themselves, increasing their knowledge and skills, bringing these to bear in the workplace as needed.\n\n\n\n\nAgile requires ongoing improvement.\u00a0 \u201cA\u201d players who are willing to continue to bring new ideas, tools and solutions to the group will enable continuous improvement.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nTeam players: We live in an interconnected environment. \u201cA\u201d players understand the importance of being able to contribute to a team while also being able to rely on others in that team.\n\n\n\n\nAgile teams desperately require individuals who are team players, who understand that the team\u2019s collective wisdom produces the best results.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere are many other characteristics that are valuable when looking for your \u201cA\u201d 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.\n\n Nancy Couture\n\nAs a leader of \u201cA\u201d players, ensure that you empower them and provide the right environment.\u00a0 A good team is a great place to be \u2014 it's exciting, stimulating, supportive and successful.\u00a0 This will attract the \u201cA\u201d players you should be looking for.\u00a0 And, with the right team members, your good team can become a great team \u2014 one that you can trust to be successful at self-managing.\n\n\nThe next article in this series will focus on Tip No. 2: Create an Enabling Team Structure.\n\n\nTo see a full set of my blog posts, visit my author page.