The word sustainability is often met with a grimace from many managers throughout every industry. They know what their employees are thinking when they hear it. It is believed that sustainability means how can I get by with doing less work by telling you I feel overworked. It is no wonder so many managers speak with their teams with less than optimistic tones about what work/life balance they are achieving. Many managers would love to get just a little more work for what they are paying.
With this unique dichotomy that exists, Agile principles encourage the concept of work at a pace that is sustainable indefinitely. It seems like a coder’s paradise. What then is the benefit for the company, the product line manager and the manager in encouraging sustainability?
Right off the bat, knowing what to expect from your team members and getting it regularly is the goal for a successful Agile effort. Velocity when understood helps managers, executives, Product Owners and ScrumMasters alike know how they can encourage consistency. But how do you know your team or individuals are doing what they can to maximize their efforts on a daily basis? It starts with support, resources and the trust to get the job done. Even if the delegation of decision making abilities starts with simple tasks and projects, it must start somewhere to build trust, respect and establish future leaders in your industry. It might mean that your teams need supplies, servers, updated workstations, a meal on the company every so often or countless other things that show they are appreciated and you know they are the most valuable assets that your company has.
Once you show your teams that they matter by removing obstacles from their paths and enabling their ongoing success, that’s when sustainability doesn’t seem like a crutch. At that point it becomes a standard for excellence. Individuals within teams ask themselves what else they can do to be more consistent. They continue to ask what can they do to improve because they know their efforts are seen, recognized and appreciated. Only when trust is built does sustainability remove the negative connotation that has existed for years across countless companies.