2/5 Personality of the different actors (Five keys to succeed in your Agile/Scrum projects)

Personality aspects of team members

This post is part of the series Five keys to succeed in your Agile/Scrum projects. It follows 1/5: Team is “multi-tasks”.

Despite the best technologies or tools you can use on your project, the energy and team-spirit of your team is the key to succeed a project. Here are some tips to set up your Scrum team.

You’ll find below some tools used to identify your team members and coach them.

Active or Passive attitude

Active or Passive ?

What is an active or passive behaviour? And how do you identify it?

When someone faces an issue, what is his reaction ?

A simple example behaviour would be:

“I need to print a document and give it to my management by the end of day… Unfortunately, the printer is out of paper”

Examples of a Passive behaviour :

  • I will explain I haven’t been able to print because the printer was out of paper
  • I tell everyone it’s a shame the printer is out of paper and that I can’t do my job
  • I inform the head of logistics department in order to take the penalties because paper supply is empty… Although it is supposed to be filled daily

Examples of an Active behaviour :

  • I try to find paper and fill the printer
  • I try printing on another printer
  • I use draft paper to print

It may sound caricatural, but we identify someone’s active by all the means put in place we he faces an issue. I’m being active when I face an issue preventing me from reaching my objectives, and  put all the possible means in place to reach my objectives.

Examples of “passive” attitude on a project:

  • “Is this working task done? Well I’ve sent an email but they haven’t responded yet … !”
  • “I failed in my objective but I have an email proof of the person responsible (according to me) of my failure”
  • “I’ve sent them 3 emails and still haven’t received an answer!”
  • “There is no more network … I can’t work anymore !
  • “I’m stuck, Mr X has to deal with that but I don’t know when it will be done…I’m not his Manager!”
  • “I’m stuck”

Examples of “active” attitude on a project:

  • Face to face interactions
  • Identify the person in the organization who can help me to fix my problem
  • Get the information
  • Asking for help
  • “Who is in charge for this matter ?”

Give and Take Feedback

Best gift ever !

Best gift ever !

Some Agile methods like Scrum already included feedback mechanisms in daily meetings and sprint reviews.

It is important for team members to give feedback and accept feedback in return. This promotes team cohesion and can also avoid potential problems. It will be difficult to build an efficient team if you are acting in this way: “Whatever… I am who I am, I won’t change. “

When given in a benevolent way and in a competent way, Feedback can really be a true gift to give or receive. There are several techniques for giving and receiving feedback, if you’re interested I can write a post about it.

When 2 people argue, once we remove all the emotional judgements and hypothesis on each other’s understanding, we can be surprised on how slight the problem was.


  • M: “You don’t have any respect for other !”

(In NLP we name that “ming reading”. Facing a fact e.g an interruption we try to deduct what the person is which obviously a wrong statement. If we do some “mind reading” the goal is to avoid them. If we have some, we should try to discuss with the other person to try to (in)validate our believes).

  • S: “OK we can discuss this we you are available and calm”


  • S: Ok I’m listening
  • M: Look, you keep interrupting me all the time ! Every 5 minute you ask me questions.

Solution in this case could be that S write down all his questions and then arrange a 1-hour meeting to discuss it with M.

To be project oriented

A efficient orientation

When I give my opinion, or take decisions in a project:

  • Am I taking decisions according to my own interest?

Example : I will use this technical framework, because I’d love to try it !

  • Am I taking decisions according to the project interest ? the choices that will truly satisfy my customer and give sense to the project.

Example of “project oriented” behaviour: choose a technical framework by taking into account its potential but also the knowledge of this framework by the team. Do we have enough time for each team member to be trained on this framework?

Being “project oriented” does not mean to be discreet, without an opinion and to forget his personal goals, it is a behaviour, in our daily choices, to consider the interest of the team and the project.

Agree – Disagree

...or not ?

There are different ways to express disagreement:

By opposite disagreement: someone who keeps saying the opposite idea of yours

By behaviour: act or sigh loudly, move back its chair 1m from the table

By ‘Yes, but’: when an idea is brought to the conversation, one would keep answering “Yes…but !”

By changing topics: one topic is brought to the meeting but someone keeps changing the conversation. Example : During a meeting about specifications => “Well, the way it is put in production is wrong’

By commenting: You want to express your opinion and someone would answer: “Do you have many silly ideas like this?”or “Pffff… what a nonsense!”

There are 2 important things regarding someone’s expressing disagreement:

First, there is always a message behind this behaviour. It is important for the coach or the leader to understand it. During a training, one participant had disagreement behaviour. I wondered why and I realized I started the training in French after asking the audience. However, the training was first announced in English and this participant barely spoke French. That’s why he had disagreement behaviour ! When I switched to English, you could see his behaviour changing.

Secondly, when one in a group disagrees, it can cost a lot of energy to everyone. Imagine a 2-hour meeting with 10 people. If one would constantly change the topic of the meeting, you can lose 20 working hours. Even though the topics covered were important, at the end, you were not able to reach your initial objectives. In this case, you need to manage the disagreement to keep the agenda and the meeting under control.

What for ?

What for ?

Why will these tools could be useful ?

They can be used during interviews to select your team members.

Indeed, if you only have team members with disagreement and passive behaviours, I wish you luck to manage your team ;-)

You can also explain these tools to your team and define your expectations to them.

Having a team who knows about being active, give/receive feedback, project-oriented and being careful to their agreement behaviours is an asset to the success of your project.

However, these tools should not be used to diagnose the team : “Hey you, you cannot join the team, you are being too passive”. This wouldn’t help.

In my opinion, the most interesting use of these tools is to explain and share them as a team

Have fun !


PS: These tools come from NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) (meta-programs)

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