Project management & leadership | March 23, 2023

How to build a good team? Personality types and soft skills for agile working in Scrum

Is recruiting the best IT specialists on the market and assigning them to one project enough to build a good team? Nowadays, in the world of IT, full of new companies, projects and developers, hard skills, i.e. specialist competences or substantive knowledge, are increasingly not viewed as the most important factor when it comes to achieving professional success. Soft skills, meaning “personal, social, interpersonal and communication skills” which are much more difficult to acquire than technical skills, are often necessary when starting a job or aiming for a promotion. Find out how to build a good team and why personality types, character matching and soft skills are critical when hiring members of an Agile Team.


Scrum: people over processes

As per the Agile Manifesto, Agile methodologies value “people and interactions over processes and tools”. This results in an increased need for contact and cooperation between people occupying various roles in a project. These people are often characterized by different perspectives, with different motivations and goals. However, only with effective cooperation between all members engaged in a project is it possible to achieve collective success – delivering the best possible software to the client.

Soft skills in Agile development

In the Agile methodology, so-called soft skills are important, such as:

  • creativity
  • ability to communicate clearly
  • the ability to work in a team

In addition, a lot depends on the feedback received from both clients and team members during regular meetings – known as retrospectives. Therefore, the ability to give, receive and respond to feedback is also necessary for development in an agile environment. Considering the limited project documentation, asking clear questions is also a highly appreciated quality. Additionally, it is worth being sympathetic and trying to meet the needs of other people involved in the project: clients, members of the Development Team, business representatives and managers.

Taking into account the dynamic development of the IT world and the general trend towards globalization, additional challenges often include social or cultural differences, and continuous improvement of soft skills should be of high importance to help people overcome these barriers.

Working in IT and stress

In an environment which varies in terms of seniority, culture, or the motivation of individual employees, it is not easy to remain objective and calm. Stressful situations such as disagreements or upcoming deadlines for the delivery of a new version of a product, where documentation is often incomplete, make communication and the ability to resolve conflicts an essential and critical aspect of accelerating success in a project.

What’s more, working with agile methodologies is very dynamic, and changes are an integral part of the day-to-day work of developers’ collaboration. All of this generates a lot of stress, and burnouts are hard to avoid. In stressful situations, it is worth remembering that there are guideposts in the form of Scrum values.

5 Scrum values

It’s important to bear in mind that effective cooperation between team members is part and parcel of working in a Scrum Team. Only by working together can we get the work done: meet the goals of a Sprint and deliver valuable software. A Scrum team should be guided in their work by 5 values:

Team building and personality types

A stressful working environment, changing requirements, and cooperation with people who often have different points of view call for some kind of flexibility and mental resilience.

Workers who are prone to stress, too timid, or afraid to speak out may find it hard to adapt to working in an agile environment. But what would collaboration look like if all team members were bold, extroverted, and always putting their feet down?  It sounds like a recipe for constant chaos and fierce competition. So how can you choose soft skills for agile team members effectively when it comes to the character?

Belbin test

Fortunately, there are some helpful tools for this. One of the most popular is the easy-to-perform Belbin personality test that distinguishes nine roles in the team in terms of behavior:

  • Plant – creative, with great imagination. Has many ideas and can think outside the box
  • Resource investigator – an optimist, full of enthusiasm, open to new contacts and various new opportunities
  • Coordinator – confident, able to see the potential and talent of others and skillfully delegate tasks in the team
  • Shaper – has the driving force and the courage to take up challenges, not afraid of obstacles, and is able to operate under time pressure
  • Evaluator – an insightful strategist, who sees many options and is able to evaluate accurately
  • Teamworker – a good listener and diplomat, who can relieve tension in the team and build good relationships
  • Implementer – a good organizer, characterized by a practical approach to tasks and efficiency
  • Completer finisher – diligent and hard-working, improves processes, carefully searches for errors and places for improvement
  • Specialist – brings knowledge and unique competences in a specific area, self-motivating

Each role has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the team should consist of different, complementary roles. The ideal team should consist of all nine roles. However, we need to bear in mind that one person can fulfill more than one role, and they can also evolve with the seniority and experience of a given team member.

Read also: Soft skills in demand, and how IT outsourcing can help

DISC model – 4 personality types

Another tool worth mentioning is the DISC model (Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive, Cautious), which distinguishes four personalities:

  • Dominant – an extrovert personality, task-oriented and focused on achieving goals, with leadership skills
  • Inspiring – an extroverted personality, people-oriented, creative and with leadership skills
  • Supportive – a reserved personality, people-oriented, appreciates the sense of safety and the good of the entire team
  • Cautious – a reserved personality, task-oriented, independent and appreciates self-development

People with a given personality type have similar behaviors, working and communication styles. It may also be easier or more difficult for them to collaborate with people characterized by other attitudes. However, similarly to the Belbin roles, only the combination of the above-mentioned personalities in the team can guarantee success here as well.

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The leadership role of a Scrum Master in team building

Apart from choosing team members carefully, the level of teamwork is also important. The Scrum Master plays an important role here, and he can positively influence the team by:

  • organizing periodic retrospectives
  • providing opportunities so that individual team members could get to know each other better
  • creating an atmosphere of trust and honesty

This way, the cooperation between individual team members improves and the risk of conflicts is minimized. However, even in the most harmonious and carefully selected teams, conflicts cannot be completely avoided.

Read also: Scrum Master vs Agile Coach

It is worth remembering that, at the end of the day, the team members have a common goal – to provide software of the highest possible quality and functionality as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost. Despite the differences in the context of personalities, origins, roles or seniority, only thanks to cooperation does the project have a chance to succeed. It is good to bear in mind that unresolved, ignored conflicts build up over time, and the best way to cooperate effectively is to quickly settle discussions to prevent conflicts from growing and escalating.

How to build a good agile team – summary

How to build a good team? It turns out that the key to success increasingly often lies in knowledge of personality types, the development of soft skills and the selection of team members so that they complement each other. Each team member has a different, valuable contribution to make.

Agile methodologies such as Scrum foster the development of teams based on communication and trust, and the Scrum Master plays an important role in this process. At the end of the day, it is worth remembering that Scrum is not a recipe for avoiding conflicts in a team, but a path to continuous improvement.

For four years she has been working for Nordea on one of the largest IT projects in the world - CBP, taking care of quality and compliance with requirements. She believes in the importance of soft skills and the power of interpersonal communication. Privately, passionate about psychology, board games and literature.

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