Our Agile #transformation is struggling without #management support — can’t we just fire them all!

While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is more difficult than to understand him. ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

A significant number of agile coaches and agile zealots often portray managers as evildoers. But, how often do these agilists:

  • Practice empathy and try to put themselves in the manager’s shoes?
  • Consider the very real fears that managers have to face — fear of looking silly, fear of all their effort over the years coming to nought, fear of being sidelined, fear of taking “unnecessary” risks, fear of not delivering and looking bad?
  • Say what needs to be said without embarrassing, humiliating, or otherwise offending the manager’s self-worth?
  • Make the managers “feel felt?” Not just heard, but also being aware of and demonstrating awareness of how the managers are feeling and the emotions they are grappling with.
  • Take the time to understand what managers want, what they feel, what they struggle with, what they enjoy, what irritates them, what they fear, what pressures they face, …?
  • Realize that managers feel lost in the new world and are asking for help in making the change stick?
  • Suggest approaches that works smoothly and take a load off managers’ shoulders?
  • Spend time 1-on-1 with the managers to guide them in impediment removal and more importantly in creating the right structures of fulfillment?
  • Spend time 1-on-1 with the managers in co-designing a step-by-step approach versus just talking in generalities?

Not very often, I presume. It’s so much easier to point fingers than to consider your own role in exacerbating an “unseemly” situation. So is it any surprise that a potential ally is often turned off by the behavior of the change agents?

One comment

  1. Hi Alex,

    I agree with you partially, in a great portion.

    I do think we (as agile coaches) need to be aware about the person behind the role. In my particular case, I look for good qualities of the “evildoers who don’t want to change” and listen to their reasons. They are many times right in their way of thinking from their perspective, so we have to listen very closely and understand how they really feel in order to be able to foster the integration, including them in the decisions and practices. Most of the times it goes perfectly smooth after they realize the possibilities, other times it just doesn’t work and at last you have to let them go (or decide walk away from them).

    The point I could not be 100% on board is about assuming almost every coach does not pay attention.

    Great article! Makes us evaluate and rethink our practice.
    Thanks!

    Like

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