Teams: Meet Keith.

I once chaired a small leadership team, just four people.  Keith, my operations lead, was highly tuned into telling us how our ideas could or could not be implemented.  Keith had a million ways to process, but he appeared to have a  lack of caring about the people we were serving.  Keith was bottom-line results focused and preferred to take on projects alone.  As the team leader, I was concerned about Keith’s ability to collaborate and listen to all the voices on the team. Additionally, I questioned Keith’s seeming desire to take over as leader.

As a team, we took learning style assessments.  I discovered Keith’s characteristics had nothing to do with me or his lack of feelings.  It was simply an outward product of his preference to learn. Armed with this new awareness, I began to seek out Keith for decisions.  His viewpoint was juxtaposed to mine and we created a heightened creative tension. This led to problem solutions and pathways that served our organization in dynamic ways.

Keith’s strengths were testing and tinkering with how ideas could be realistically implemented.  Keith questioned the experts…were they really promoting the most efficient methods possible?  Making unilateral decisions was his preferred method to tackle problems. Keith was a hard worker and strove to make the team and organization productive and profitable.  Getting to the point and editing out “fluff” was Keith’s conversation strong point.  Keith had common sense in spades.

As a ScrumMaster, how do you manage Keith’s energy? How does his preference to work alone fit into the team mentality of the Scrum framework?  What does a coaching conversation with Keith look like?  What if you have an entire team of Keith’s?

Awareness of learning styles is essential to managing the energy and patterns of any team member.  Keith may never be thrilled to do team and small group work, but you will find better success by teaming Keith with team members who value his point of view.   Teammates with a strong voice are also important to pair with Keith.  Implementing few, but reasonable and enforceable rules around team interactions will also appeal to Keith.  Acknowledging Keith’s ability to problem solve is the best way to keep him motivated.

To build your awareness of learning styles on your team, join us for our new teams course, 4MAT for Scrum Teams.