Handling Conflict on Agile Teams: What to Do When a Team Member Complains


butt of complaints. When someone passes along anonymous complaints about you, ask these questions to bring the conversation to a constructive place:

May I ask how you feel about this? Is it a concern for you, too?

I would welcome a chance to talk with him. Would you be willing to help us get together to talk?

Remember that, as the Agile coach, you are a model for the behavior that will help the team get to high performance. In this regard, imitation is definitely the highest form of flattery. Use this model and hold fast to the absolute refusal to carry anonymous complaints and see what happens. The best outcome possible is that you hear one team member say to another, "Have you shared your concerns with her directly?"

[1] The intervention path and much of the advice in this article is adapted from the tutelage of Margaret Keip, a Unitarian Universalist Minister who teaches conflict management to church groups. Her models spring from wise guidance she learned from Speed B. Leas, author of many conflict management books, among them Discover Your Conflict Management Style , Alban Institute: 1998.

User Comments

1 comment
Denning  Coates 's picture

Nicely laid out.  Thanks Lyssa, that was insightful.  

July 28, 2014 - 6:01pm

About the author

Lyssa Adkins's picture Lyssa Adkins

Since 2004 Lyssa Adkins has taught Scrum to hundreds of students, coached many agile teams, and served as master coach to many apprentice coaches. In both one-on-one settings and small groups, she enjoys a front-row seat as remarkable agile coaches emerge and go on to entice the very best from the teams they help. Prior to agile, Lyssa had more than fifteen years of expertise leading project teams and groups of project managers, yet nothing prepared her for the power of agile done simply and well. Lyssa authored Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition.

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