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Most of agile teams are using daily standups. And in a case of a development a software product it means that high skilled specialist is obliged to set goals daily and to tell about results of a previous day.

What to do if some talents consider it a humiliation?

  • Welcome to pmse. I have two questions for you. Who is present during the Daily Scrums? Are you actually (attempting to be) doing Scrum, or just the standup meeting? – Sarov Jun 1 '20 at 13:06
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    You should add more details to your question so that people understand your situation before writing an answer. If we assume things, we will provide the wrong answers. As it stands, your question just mentions some consequence of the daily scrum, but it says nothing about how it unfolds, which is very important. – Bogdan Jun 1 '20 at 13:11
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    Please explain why setting goals or coordinating within your team is "humiliating." That's a rather strong word to use without explanation. Perhaps there's a personal values, business culture, or regional culture context that's missing here too. – Todd A. Jacobs Jun 1 '20 at 13:47
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    Hi - I believe we have a very good question here that's hidden beneath a lot of missed details. As it stands, it sounds like it's expecting an answer from an echo chamber, which could be risky. Details and context are very important to be added. – Tiago Cardoso Jun 1 '20 at 14:07
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    You could probably add a couple more tags too. Agile, scrum (if applicable) – Joris Van Regemortel Jun 1 '20 at 18:25
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You don't give any context about why people might feel humiliated, besides you mentioning that they are high skilled specialists, so I'll add two things that could cause this kind of behavior from the little information you provided.

The first is if your daily standup is in fact just a status report to management. Someone from management participates in this meeting and criticizes people for no reason whatsoever than to exert their power and show who is boss. You have a manager of some sort that threats people like children, asking them what they did yesterday, what they will do today, making them promise to do it, then ask people to explain themselves if something doesn't go according to what everyone committed to do. Highly skilled professionals don't like these sort of things because they know it's a very moronic way of doing things. But they don't feel humiliated, they simply start being resentful in wchich case they will either try to do something to change things for the better or will leave and find a better job some place else where people are not such idiots. And they will find it easy to find another job because they are very skilled.

Do you have such a type of daily stand up? Most likely not. This is an extreme depiction of how a standup can take place. Which gets me to the second reason people might behave like you describe.

The second reason is overinflated egos. Do these developers have a bad attitude or not? Are they decent people or are they jerks? The daily standup has a purpose and that is for everyone in the team to coordinate their working efforts for reaching the goals of the Sprint. People should not feel humiliated unless the daily is messed up in some way (see the first reason I mentioned) or they feel that this is beneath them. Being very skilled doesn't mean they are also professionals. In a Scrum team people need to collaborate, understand the role of a daily, and act professionally. If you don't have such persons in your team, you are in big trouble and them considering it humiliating is the least of your problems.

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If people find briefing leadership or customers humiliating, then it is extremely likely leadership or customers are humiliating them. Thick skin or not, being humiliated is humiliating. Their response, to avoid humiliation, is to provide a type of brief, likely altered in an unfavorable way (read fake). If they're being humiliated, attack the humiliators. Focus the fix on them.

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What to do if some talents consider it a humiliation?

Step 1 is of course always "Listen". Why do they consider it humiliation. Having said that, in an attempt to be useful, I'll offer the following observation. Sounds to me like the consequences of a mildly toxic culture in which Visibility Is Punishment. I've encountered this relatively frequently as a result of two different things

  1. Management uses status reports for things other than understanding and projecting. Management perceives this as an opportunity to meddle & micromanage.

    "It is taking longer than expected to debug module X"

    "Have you tried walking through it line by line?"

    "yes, and I'd also like your help to teach grandma to suck eggs."

    Fortunately the solution here is relatively simple. Emphasize that the intent of the report is to understand and project the future. Be explicit in your respect for talent's expertise. The answer should be something along the lines of

    "Good luck with that. If I recall, Module Y depends on Module X; do you think the problems are likely to affect module Y? Module Y is scheduled to start refactor in 2 weeks - should I extend that schedule by a week?"

    Trusting talent to resolve the problem.

  2. Talent who fail to understand the separation of roles/duties or value the PM. Talent usually wants to solve the problem/get it right/ develop the most elegant, sophisticated solution in the world. That is good and should be praised. Project management wants to understand when the project will be done, how likely it is to be done on time, etc. The guys with the money care about both things. The better the PM understands, the more accurate the estimates of schedule and cost, and the better the PM is able to defend scope (which results in fewer stupid change requests). Assuming that talent wants to concentrate on the interesting work (development), they need to share status information so that the PM can take the status reporting task. Management should direct questions about scope/schedule/cost/quality to the PM. Talent gets to spend more time "in the zone" doing satisfying work, and less time on status reports and bureaucracy.

I'm making some rather large assumptions there based on a scenario with few details; I hope those observations are at least somewhat helpful.

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"You're trying to hitch a team of horses, all of whom consider themselves to be Kentucky Derby stallions, to your apple-cart."

If you see these problems among the members of your team, and if you do not have line-management authority over them, privately discuss your concerns with the individual who actually does. And then, "shaddup and listen to their response!"

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