Difficult Team Members

Difficult Team Members in AgileMeasure

Agile should not be a battle. However, there are individuals who can not or will not participate in a supportive manner. You can identify them by one simple rule: They never say: “yes”. I do believe in the strength of a well-placed and strong “no”. However, these individuals only say “no”. I’ve developed a few techniques to be able to work with the nay-sayers.


They may have very good reason why they are reluctant. Maybe the corporate culture needs work. Maybe there’s a historical issue which needs to be resolved. Investigate their root concern and address it.


Most of the negativity is due to some type of fear or pain. Identify that pain or fear and remove it.

Give them a place for their voice

Identify a place for nay-sayers to contribute their voice. Work with them to limit the negativity to the retrospective. It’s the best opportunity for them to express their concern. Get the issue out in the open for discussion.

Make them part of the solution

I have a simple guideline. You own the solution if you complain about the problem. Create a story to resolve the issue and assign it to them. Make it a priority in the next iteration.

Pile it on

Pile on the work. Give them so much work they can never come up for air. I have found that many complainers do so when they’re bored or unchallenged. You may find your complainer to be one of the most productive members of your team.

You need to try everything to bring them into the group. However, not everyone is meant to be in successful in Agile teams. If you try everything above, resolution likely requires a trip to human resources.