Agile Principle 5 – Motivate, Support and Trust People

Posted on February 8, 2011 by


Is it a radical concept, motivate, support and trust people?  No.  Not really.

The Agile principle of building projects around motivated individuals is clearly a Theory Z , Y or Herzberg management approach — people want to achieve and when they do, advance that performance to even higher levels.  It doesn’t fit well with the Theory X management approach of command, control, and clamp down on people because at the end of the day, they may just “rob you blind”!  Theory X was a hallmark of the Ford Motor Company‘s approach at the last turn-of-the-century.  In today’s work world, a Theory X manager would like to hire Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, to make sure that team delivers!

office linebacker

Get that code complete or I'm laying ya out!

This principle also finds a voice in the Gallup Q12™ that measures employee engagement across twelve questions – one in particular, “I have the tools and equipment necessary to do my job?” aligns very closely with “give them the environment and support they need”.   Curt Coffman, who co-authored “First Break All the Rules” with Marcus Buckingham in 1999 has continued his work in employee engagement.  His website is a good resource for motivating teams.  I worked with him while at the Gallup Organization in the late 1990’s to 2000.  At the time the employee engagement wave brought excitement and a bit of dread in me.  The excitement was the power it brought organizations.  The dread was in my role of Gallup Labs Director and the scrambling involved to find resources to deliver all the reports, surveys and systems for clients who were jumping on the bandwagon :-).

I wonder how much of a hit the “motivate and create a good work environment” has taken from the onset of the Great Recession in mid 2008 until 2010?  In the late 1990’s to 9/11, finding and retaining talented people was a driving concern – so many opportunities, rising pay scales and people fleeing.  In the last three years, those with a job in information technology are happy with a “sit down, shut up and do you work” approach.  Still a motivated individual that leads to a motivated team produces much better results!

Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need,
and trust them to get the job done.

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