Work loose to lose the bottlenecks
Work loose to lose the bottlenecks
When someone came in to help our sales and marketing people improve their project management skills, I eavesdropped.

By Hayley Robins, Senior Accountant at Hive Business

When someone came in to help our sales and marketing people improve their project management skills, I eavesdropped. The process they were being taught sounded good and so I stole it when I realised that my main job, overseeing a team of accountants to take a long list of clients through the financial year, is really just one big project.

The technique I stole is called Agile. It’s most obvious benefit is increased visibility across your team, meaning everyone sees what’s been done, what needs to be done and by when. That visibility means sticky bits are flagged early so resources can be diverted without falling behind. It doesn’t require any report writing or other admin.

I thought Agile would help me streamline my workflow, and it did, but it produced other unexpected benefits too. The best one is that I no longer feel obliged to personally step in when team members are struggling. No doubt it’s to do with my personality, but I’ve always been worried about overwhelming my team members, putting too much on their plates and not giving them enough support. And so I always said, “I’ll help you,” even when it was not wise.

Agile has let me off my own hook. Here’s how it works. Everyone in your team stands up for a five minute meeting in the morning which your designated ‘scrum master’ directs. Everyone puts Post-Its on the board to show what they’re doing today and what they should be doing over the course of the project. Work is split into sections, there are deadlines, and a backlog builds up if these aren’t met. So far so conventional.

So what’s different? Just by glancing at the board anyone can see if an individual is stuck or overwhelmed, and the floor is open to ideas and support. Somehow it’s much easier to troubleshoot as a team. So there are efficiency gains here, but the open forum also encourages team members to teach skills that they wouldn’t share otherwise, things like how to approach stressful conversations and personal tips on self care.

On the task board you also have your ‘sprint’ sections, tasks to be completed within the next two weeks, which are updated each day. Then there is your done section. Having my project displayed like this, and having my team members share a quick five minutes on it every morning, is a weight off my mind.

Only now that I’m using Agile do I appreciate the extent to which we worked in siloes before, with everyone sticking to their own remits, even though we tried not to. I think it’s hard not to do that unless you establish a new process like Agile that removes the hierarchy and therefore the bottleneck.

I’d bet that’s even more the case in dental practices where everyone is always off doing their own differentiated thing: associates do clinical, receptionists do customer service, managers do admin and owners do business. What if you removed the barriers and leveraged everyone’s skills and experience. What could your team achieve then?

If you’d like to know more about Agile and organise training for your team we may be able to help. Get in touch on 01872 300232 or email us at [email protected]

Hayley Robins
By Hayley Robins Senior Accountant
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