Using the 12 Principles of Agile Software Development to Drive Employee Engagement

employee engagement

In part one of the blog, I discussed the Agile Software Manifesto and how it drives success and improves the level of employee engagement. In this blog, I will discuss the 12 Principle from the manifesto that will help you keep your 2019 resolutions on the mark as an organization.

    1. Employee satisfaction through early and continuous delivery – We are prone to putting more emphasis on the big fix than we are on the first step. Employees want – above anything – access to things that are relevant, in operating order, and accretive to their experience. And they don’t want to wait around for it. Focus on delivering a culture or engagement enhancement (or fix) in shorter increments of time. And do that continuously.
    2. Accommodate changing requirements throughout the process – Whatever process you choose to deploy for managing culture and employee engagement, it should accommodate changing needs, interests, motivators, priorities, etc. Because those changes will most certainly be required.
  1. Frequent delivery of stuff that works – While related to #1, this is really more about “hacking away” at enhancements, fixes, alignment, progress. This is about doing the one thing that’s going to have the biggest impact (and is easiest to do) first. Focus on that, do it well, and then (only then) moving on to the next.
  2. Collaboration between the employees and the developers (HR, Leaders, Managers, Consultants, Etc.) throughout the project – You get it: involve people in the decisions that affect them. It’s much easier to deliver a winning solution when the end-user is involved throughout. Stop making assumptions. Stop lobbing your own interests into the mix without first considering the needs of others. Collaborate.
  3. Support, trust, and motivate the people involved – By the way, “collaboration” doesn’t just mean seeking their input. It also means getting them involved – like hands-on involved. But them in charge. Create stewardship and ownership for culture and employee engagement. If people want a culture that fits their distinct needs and interests, make them responsible for it. You trust them enough to hire them to do great things for your customers; why not trust them to do great things for your business?
  4. Enable face-to-face interactions – In an increasingly virtual world, it is increasingly important that we maintain face-time. Particularly when collaborating, solving, fixing, enhancing, advancing stuff. There are some great tools out there that can help you do this. It doesn’t mean that you all have to be in the same room – or that you have to get on a plan to work together. It just means you have to put a face with a name and with a voice.
  5. Progress over perfection – I know, you’re starting to see some key themes here. Let’s get more comfortable with stuff that moves the needle not because it’s fully baked, exactly as you want it, and pretty as can be. Progress isn’t always pretty – and it doesn’t have to be…as long as it is in fact progress. This means getting the end-user to accept the idea that you’d rather give them the next iteration, even if it’s not the end iteration.
  6. Make Culture and Engagement a System, not an Event – Culture is not a one and done exercise. So many organizations make the mistake of doing the hard work around culture and employee engagement annually; not regularly, as if it were any other important operating system in their business. It takes work. It takes patience, deliberation, dedication, and methodology. Build some muscle memory. And do it consistently. Rinse, repeat.
  7. Pay attention to and rely on data, analytics, and signals – As you well know, the workplace is dynamic. Assumptions are dangerous – at best, they’ll cause us to miss something; at worst, they can lead to disaster. Gather valid data on what’s working and what’s not. Understand what’s driving success in your culture. The smarter you are at the front end of any work you have to do, the less likely it will be that you’ll have to scrap your efforts. You’ll get it right the first time.
  8. Simplicity – This is my favorite. Under the Agile Software Manifesto, “Simplicity” is defined as “maximizing the amount of work that doesn’t get done.” How awesome is that?! And who wouldn’t sign up for it?! We over-engineer the bejeezus out of our workplace. Tone it down, my brothers and sisters. It’s complex, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Do enough to get the job done for right now.
  9. Self-organizing teams outperform – every single time – Get out of the way. Skilled and motivated team members who have permission and decision-making power, deliver quality products. Give some guidance, establish some guardrails, be available to help remove obstacles. But then get out of the way.
  10. Monitor progress, reflect and adjust – Take a pause along the way to reflect on how things are going. Don’t be afraid to conclude they aren’t going as well as you had hoped. That’s part of the process – identify what’s not working and then fix it. Mistakes breed better results. But you have to monitor and respond to them, accordingly. This is where data can come in again. We like the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) measure more than anything. It’s quick and easy. And it’s a powerful measure of trend, employee engagement, connection, affiliation, intent to stay, and willingness to put forth the discretionary effort.

Ok, it may seem like a lot. But it’s really not. All of these things are related and feed off of one another. Agile is a mindset, not just a methodology. It takes some time for it to stick; just don’t give up before you’ve given it a fair shot. Doing so will require more than simply posting these Values and Principles. But it’s an awesome place to start. Imagine for a moment what your workforce would think when you told them you’re actually deploying a proven methodology to get and stay intentional about managing culture and the employee engagement it drives? The fact that you’ve even thought of doing so is more than most organizations will ever be able to say.

Now, put your money where your mouth is and keep those 2019 Resolutions!

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