Coaching Tired Teams

Last night AWA hosted Anna Obukhova in London at one of our free meetups. I don’t usually write about the meetups we host, mainly because we film nearly all of them and upload the videos to our YouTube Channel. Last night, however, we did not film the event but you can see our webinar with Anna on the same topic here. That said, I thought last night was one of the best talks I have ever seen.

I felt compelled to write this at 6 am this morning for fear of forgetting some of the incredible research and information Anna shared.

The talk was about coaching teams that have reached burn out or extreme tiredness. I thought that this would only affect very few teams but was surprised to find that about a third of software teams experience what can be termed as clinical exhaustion and a total of 75-80% reach extreme tiredness.

Anna talked about us having energy much like a battery on your phone. At different levels of charge different parts of the brain come online that provide us with certain attributes we need for everyday life.

The average office worker has around 35% charge at any one time. For agile teams, we need around 45% charge to bring the attributes we need to perform well in teams. This is fascinating because we expect teams to do well without considering their levels of stress and tiredness. We expect team members to behave in certain ways through the facilitation, exercises, and agile meetings, however, they simply will not be able to with the average energy levels available to the average worker.

Anna discussed natural fluctuation and rhythms in energy levels that occur in cycles (25 mins, 1.5hrs, 4hrs, daily, weekly) and how Scrum and other activities take advantage of these cycles but other activities fight these natural cycles and create burnout. There are many things we can do in our own personal and professional lives to counter this low energy and things we can do to affect the teams we work with, to increase the rest and productivity of teams.

Anna provided a list of countermeasures, activities, and tools.

Anna Obukhova - coaching tired teams

The information in this meetup was absolute gold dust for any manager, leader, team member, or coach, or for any person who works in an office.

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