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Team Building for an Agile Team

Shirley Reardon  •  Updated Dec 12, 2021

Managing a team of diverse individuals can be challenging, especially without a plan. Although there is no perfect formula for creating the ideal agile team-building activities, you can guide the group and give the high-performing teams what they need to succeed by including some essential core elements.

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Managing a team of diverse individuals can be challenging, especially without a plan. Although there is no perfect formula for creating the ideal agile team-building activities, you can guide the group and give the high-performing teams what they need to succeed by including some essential core elements.

How Do You Build an Agile Team?

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An agile team is more than just multiple individuals working together for a common goal. It makes it easier when you strive for people who focus on collaboration, effective problem-solving, and continuous improvement.

Each group member should possess similar qualities to build a successful agile team. These qualities include:

  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Effective Communication
  • Goal Oriented and Motivated
  • Risk-Taking
  • Accepting Failures
  • Non-Judgmental

When you find individuals to make an agile team who carry the same core values and traits, everyone wins.

Agile teams can be an integral part of daily functions in organizations where customer service and satisfaction are critical aspects of business operations. These principles are a good starting point to build an agile team:

  • Collaboration rather than conflict or negotiation
  • Personal interactions over using automated tools or processes
  • Responding positively to change instead of blindly following a plan
  • Working and practical business tasks rather than static duties

Finding the right people for the group is just the beginning. Once everyone works smoothly together, effectiveness needs to continue for the group's success.

Is Agile Team Building Necessary?

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Even with the best people on your team, they will still require opportunities to bond and form close connections with one another. So are agile team building tasks necessary or a waste of valuable time?

Surprisingly, you encourage a more positive environment by incorporating practical team-building activities. This way, the group will use it as a base for their working relationship. These tasks are not a time-waster since they are beneficial for the continuous harmony of the team members.

Although it is not a final solution, it can help minimize conflict that may still happen between team members. With proper team-building exercises, the bond between group members will be strong enough to keep the lines of communication open as they find a suitable resolution.

Sometimes, incorporating team-building exercises is necessary during stressful points of a large project or increasing tension between group members. Having a way to release stress and circle back to personal relationships can help get a team back on track with a common goal.

Agile Team Building Activities

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How do you incorporate agile team-building activities into your existing team? It can be easy to introduce concepts and strategies that will work for all your group members with proper planning. So, how do you know which team-building activities to use for your groups that will be effective?

Having an agile team means that they can pivot and make quick changes with continuous feedback. Because of this element, using activities that promote quick thinking and communication between team members is beneficial.

Try incorporating these ten team-building activities and see how successful your group will be afterward.

1. Engagement Rules

When beginning an agile team or adding new group members to an existing team, it is critical to bring them up to speed. Using engagement rules is an effective way to ensure each member is aware of the current needs and wants of the others in the group.

Take 30 minutes to go over each person’s preferred work style. For example, suppose one person prefers to use 15 minutes alone each morning to organize the day while others want a collaborative meeting first. In that case, it can create tension or hinder productivity.

When recognizing everyone’s needs and wants, the group members accept alternative work styles and behaviors. Your team can always circle back and review if the engagement rules are working or if they need adjusting for better success.

2. Verbal Sparring

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This team-building activity helps enforce that continuously changing atmosphere that agile teams can thrive on. You can use a current project situation with another department that is having difficulties or an imaginary one you construct for the purpose of this exercise.

Have all the team members participate in improving the situation for a successful result. Of course, there are no wrong answers, and each group member should accept all suggestions as a way to build on them together.

This exercise promotes quick thinking and creativity. Encourage challenging questions while incorporating this activity into a weekly or monthly group routine. With continuous practice, team members may become aware of each individual’s skills and how they benefit the group while reaching a goal.

3. Elevator Pitch Exercise

The elevator pitch exercise is a terrific way to ensure that all team members are on the same page when starting a new project. You can also incorporate this activity when a project needs restructuring when the needs or goals change after starting.

For 30 minutes, use a fill-in-the-blank template where each group member can articulate what the team needs to deliver, why it is necessary, how its unique elements stand out against the competition, and the target audience.

This activity helps bring all group members together for a common goal and serves as a terrific check-in exercise throughout large projects. You can use the same template for each project your group takes on or modify it as necessary for the best results.

4. Framing Problems

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Looking for potential problems may not sound productive, but it can save time and money in an agile team. In addition, this activity is an excellent tool for high-performing teams to stay on track and keep the common goal in mind, even with roadblocks along the way.

This exercise invites group members to look for potential problems anywhere within the project. You can run this activity at the start of a new task or any point throughout a significant task when issues can sideline the progress and success of the outcome.

When planning ahead for possible situations, the team can deal with any changes effectively and ensure they keep sight of the end goal. Proactive team-building activities are sure to help any stage of a project. This exercise may also keep the group diligent in avoiding potential disasters that may happen with large projects without constant monitoring.

5. Off-Topic Chats

Sometimes off-topic items can be a considerable distraction for group work. Instead of steering clear of off-topic conversations, make them regular team activities. This way, everyone will focus more effectively since other subjects have their own time and place for discussion.

Introduce an informal group chat for all members to share their movie recommendations, favorite recipe, or ask questions about the best dog toys. This space should be available to discuss anything off-topic but will have a designated time for contributing and review.

You can choose to take the last 15 minutes of each day to converse on any off-topics in the chat to wind down from a productive day. Maybe start a new chat every Monday morning to have all the group members chat casually for 20 minutes before getting down to business.

Although some organizations may believe that inviting casual conversation can open up the possibility for future procrastination or distraction within the workplace, this is not always the case. Instead, off-topic chats can be a terrific focusing tool for teams with proper monitoring and execution.

6. Stand-Up Exercises

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You can choose to incorporate stand-up exercises daily or weekly, as the schedule allows, depending on the group needs. Have each team member stand up and give a brief report on their progress for any ongoing tasks, the current plan for success, and if they need help on any items.

Being vulnerable in a group and asking for help or guidance is a terrific agile team-building exercise. When members can trust one another to discuss their successes and struggles, the lines of communication remain open and reinforce the group bonds.

Personal connections are critical for agile teams and their success. By offering a safe space to stand up and discuss these items, your group will work together more closely and go out of their way to help one another out when necessary.

7. Roll the Dice Exercise

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Unfortunately, not all meetings and events will happen on time. If your group is stuck waiting on one or two people to start a session, this short time can allow for an impromptu roll the dice exercise for team building.

Have a pre-set page of questions to correspond with the numbers on a dice. Although you do not want to include questions that are too personal, you can choose simple ones like:

  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What remarkable thing did you do last weekend?
  • Who was your hero growing up?
  • Are you a dog or a cat person?

These basic questions can help everyone get to know one another better while waiting to begin a meeting. In addition, incorporating a quick, fun activity can relax everyone before an intense encounter with prominent clients or department heads.

8. Retrospective Exercise

Although the retrospective exercise is ideal for project completion, you can incorporate it throughout large tasks to help maintain focus and momentum and keep the common goal in mind.

Using a retrospective exercise allows group members to look back on the progress of the team and identify several elements, including:

  • What went well and worked to achieve the goal
  • What did not work well for the success of the team
  • What can change to ensure a higher rate of success next time
  • Did we learn anything from this project

With continuous collaboration using retrospective exercises, an agile team can dynamically adjust to the circumstances for optimal success.

9. Signs, Signals, and Goals

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No project will go smoothly without some hiccups. But by using the signs, signals, and goals methodology, team members will know what to look for during their tasks to help avoid getting sidetracked or straying from the original plan.

You can include measurable result points, like tangible timelines for smaller tasks or departmental approval for more significant duties. Incorporating regular check-in points to monitor current progress can ensure all team members stay aligned.

When facing a snag in a task, the team can come together to assess the situation and determine if it warrants a change in process to achieve the goal.

Being on the lookout for signs, signals, and goal changes can help your agile team be more productive. Even when things go smoothly, watching the signs and signals without any issues can reinforce the team’s effectiveness. This positive reinforcement encourages all group members to continue as a high-performing team.

10. Endless Possibilities Exercise

For an agile team-building task that will get everyone’s creative juices flowing, you can incorporate the Endless Possibilities exercise. This task can be a quick activity at the beginning of a meeting or project to invite everyone to engage and participate.

Use an object as the focal point and give everyone a chance to choose an alternative use for the item. Encourage the group members to try and find a unique way to use the object without overlapping ideas with another individual. The larger the group is, the more creative the team members will have to be.

Have the group members act out using the item as if they are pitching it to an investor. This exercise is a great way to break the ice with new teams or where leadership roles change.

The Takeaway

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An agile team is more than just a group of people working on a project together. These individuals should be incredibly motivated to perform a task for the benefit of the group. Because agile teams require exceptional communication skills and quick thinking, using team-building activities can help solidify the bonds between group members.

Ensure that your agile team has the necessary tools to maintain strong connections within its members, and they will be on the road to success. If your agile group is not responding to one activity, be sure to keep an open mind and try another option until you find one that works for everyone.