Agile coaches offer help to companies looking for transformation- they are on a voyage to progress. But for every client, it is different, and that means your every day is unique.
Sometimes, it includes teaching new methods to group teams; sometimes, it involves setting goals for an organization or training individual managers.
A professional coach should be well-prepared for everything that is thrown at them. They might be teaching a product owner about how to plan to go with it? What would the roadmap appear like? Or they might be offering some basic techniques on tips to pen a good user story.
Who is an Agile Coach?
Agile coaches assist companies in running agile approaches most efficiently for their teams and their objectives. Coaches can be internal employees at the company or the Head of the Department, and they excel in agile methodologies and exercises. Coaches assist clients in knowing about their interpersonal and company challenges and recommending measures to use agile approaches to overcome them.
However, their role doesn’t just end here! Agile is just a gateway to efficacy and can be used in nearly every aspect of life. It can even be used to host a family reunion. It works everywhere, in reality!
It is an efficient way to gain progress in most environments, and it reduces frustration.
Agile isn’t just for a software organization
Agile’s efficiency in software development has lured the other sectors into adopting the practice. Today, finance companies, HR teams, and even veterinary clinics use these methods to stay efficient, productive, and organized. So, it can be applied to any sector, but it’s significantly common in tech.
Today, every professional software store has agile on some phase. So, it is no longer a specific industry practice, and you can find several agile coaches with their particular distinctive specialization. This appears like an emphasis on the organizational transformation or getting technical excellence in software.
Agile coaches serve people, teams, and organizations- hence they need to be prepared to enter at any of the levels, kind of at any time. The expertise of external and internal agile coaches together can render maximum benefit to your team, managers, and organization as a whole. If you already have an internal agile coach, they may be well-aware of the projects across the organization, and outside viewpoints can add more clarity. They work with clients to scale the approaches and execute agile techniques. Internal coaches take on a lot of responsibility across a company.
If you want to build your organization into something more significant and need skilled coaches in those departments, you should hire agile coaches that can scale that type of change. Be it for one person or an organization of 400 people; an agile coach knows how to make this change scale.
Agile Coaching is more like a Therapy
It doesn’t just include changing the procedure- it is about examining the team dynamics too. For instance, a company can enlist an agile coach when it wants to create transparency. Under such a condition, an agile coach would suggest that the executive team shows how they work toward the company objectives, not just scream the demands at entry-level workers.
After an agile coach studies an organization’s workflow, they can help them find remedies to tighten development timelines and still deliver top-quality results. A misconception in such cases is to assume that everything is about completing things in a shorter time, but that’s not the case every time. Sometimes you need to go slow to speed up. A lot of effort has to be put up with the UX teams to make them get going in front so that you have good data coming in from the actual users. Then it is about assisting the engineers; this is the product you want to launch, so what’s the most effective way to make it happen?
Often, employees, managers, or teams are comfortable opening one on one and telling about what they feel and experience.
For instance, an internal agile coach at WP Engine has a lot of duties to her name. The coach spends more than half of her time boosting the team efforts and drafting training materials such as Wiki Pages and slide decks. Another part of the time goes to projects across the product as well as the engineering team. And, lastly, some hours are spent listening to the team members. It helps the coach understand what is going on and find ways to support and empower them to rectify the situation.
So, overall it is a little bit of therapy to them and helps them go a long way!
Offering teams ownership of change
Many people prefer autonomy while experiencing change, so teams should discuss, and coaches should guide them to find their solutions. No one likes to be told what needs to be done all the time! It is a bit old technique now.
Changing which is sustainable should eventually come from the team directly. It doesn’t work in the long run if the team feels that they are being forced into practice or executing solutions they have no ownership over. Communication is an integral aspect of this, and even though someone has sturdy opinions regarding agile, it is essential that the team feels like it contributes.
It likes presenting a practice together, discussing its pros and cons, and steps to proceed with it. Sharing your experience and eventually asking the team to move on their own isn’t a great thing.
The procedure is a cautious dance between sharing experience, knowledge and showing empathy. It is the essence of coaching work. An agile coach is a fantastic position, and that position includes influencing and not authority. And, hence, building personal relationships and trust is of great significance.
Strengthening Team Dynamics
It may be not be challenging for employees to focus on a solution for one problem and then find other issues ignored. It’s tough for the workers to acknowledge where they are going wrong, and this is where a coach can be of great help.
The discovery of one problem after the other and the primary root to all of them can be troublesome for an organization. An agile coach can prove helpful when things go beyond asking people to take measures that could work better. They analyze the work habits, processes, and interactions to offer better advice.
They pay close attention to all that’s being said and done and its effect on others in a company. The attention isn’t just paid to what’s being said but also to the people’s body language. Sometimes it may be pretty simple to find out if people are happy to come to work. But sometimes, it may get tough to find the root cause. If a company has too many miserable employees, something wrong is happening in the system to create that type of angst.
When discussing team dynamics, Bruce Tuckman’s stages of team development can be used for reference. It offers a guiding structure. In the primary stage, teams are all on their best behavior and just starting fresh. With time, people reveal their quirks and butt heads to see boundaries, thereby learning how to work in a team.
Once the team reaches the next stage, where behaviors and processes are organized, they shift to the performing stage, where everyone works at their best. After a few milestones, managers add team retrospectives to boost their development and dynamics.
Most of the team offer a sprint retrospective after each sprint. Agile coaches aim to keep them fresh and efficient by exposing the teams to a broad library of opportunities- so that you don’t just continuously use the same retrospective method.
Implementing retrospectives with the help of different techniques aids more insight and innovativeness. For instance, a sticky note wall can help teams share their feelings about what worked and didn’t work in a sprint. With a data-centric retro, teams can assess their performance against measurements and look out for areas of improvement.
Using a different format or changing the questions being asked or the tasks being conducted can keep things appealing, new, and fun and bring new insights and plans of action for the team.
Seek the right help with the right questions
For all agile coaches, finding out whom to help and how to do it best is an essential part of the practice. Teams approach an agile coach and seek their guidance. Their requests are specific, like seeking help on the details for backlog items and generic, such as suggestions on handling employees that are not working well. Remember, metrics are also essential.
Asking the right questions helps coaches find out the root cause and elicits more profound responses. It can lead directly to the issue. What creates problems in your day-to-day existence? What problems should disappear overnight? Asking such questions helps address the underlying issues and its contributing aspects, which eventually help in drafting the right solution.
So, whether it is about building a positive workplace culture, developing your potential employees, preparing for smooth succession planning, or managing the transition during mergers and acquisitions, an agile coach can help you seek transparency in identifying the core values and guide the people and team by considering the mission, vision, and values of the company. Agile coaches develop an action plan to coach/mentor/train as required, develop, and implement a leadership development process to meet the succession goals.