Thursday, April 21, 2016

Don't Empower. Expect.

We’ve heard plenty about empowering teams:

“You’re empowered to make decisions.”
“You’re empowered to do TDD.”
“You’re empowered to raise concerns.”

Empowering your teams lets them know you’ll support them in doing things the right way. Leaders need to give their people top cover, so this is really a great step.

Unfortunately, just empowering teams leaves them the room to rationalize why they shouldn’t do things we expect of professional craftsmen.

“We were running behind so we stopped pairing.”
“Bob wasn’t here this week, so we skipped all our Three Amigos conversations.”
“Someone reset the QA environment and all our data got wiped out. We had too much work in progress, so we didn’t stop to refactor our tests to handle their own data setup.”

These sorts of things aren’t what you want with your teams. You’ve given them the room to do things right by empowering them. Take the next step and make it clear you’re expecting them to get these things done. Moving to a culture of expectations helps your team members hold each other to a higher standard. “Hey, we skipped tests on this story. Let’s pair up and go fix it right now.”

Do what it takes to make expected behaviors clear. Speak up, send unequivocable communications, ensure your “done” barometers clearly state these activities must be accomplished.

Change the culture. Now. Stop talking about empowering. Talk about expecting.

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