Coaching Agile Teams

The coach helps the team to identify a common purpose.

Let’s start with a question. What are the things that one has to consider for building a successful team?

Most people will think of Right Skillset.

  • Skillset X
  • Skillset Y
  • Skillset Z

Is that enough for a Successful Team? 

While Right Skillsets are needed, the reality is if you ask a group of people to share their experience in a Successful Team, and find out a pattern from all the stories it would be 

  • Collective Purpose/Goal
  • Open Communication within and outside
  • Collaboration
  • Continuous Improvement or Learning

Let’s relate this to Coaching and explain some of the benefits of Agile Coaching.

Few excerpts from the International Coaching Federation (ICF). ICF adheres to a form of coaching that

honours the client as the expert in their life or work

believes that every client is creative, resourceful, and whole

Now, let’s relate to Agile Team coaching — One of the modalities for team development.

In the team coaching context, the term “client” represents the team, rather than an individual.

So, going by the context, a team coach should stand on the belief that.

  • The team has all the skills to do the job at hand — Be it simple problems or complex problems. But it becomes much more necessary for complex problems — More unknowns than knowns. 
  • The Coach shall facilitate an activity for people to form teams on their own.

Now with one tenet for a successful team is accounted for, let’s focus on the coach’s process for a Successful team. 

  • The coach should have the right mindset — Being open, staying curious always and being mindful that it is everything about the team.
  • The coach should have a proper entry into the team, establishing a partnership with the team members to ensure how team development accountabilities will be shared among the coach and the team.
  • The coach helps the team to identify a common purpose that motivates people to glue themselves as one team. Coach challenges to ensure the team is in line with the organisation’s priorities.
  • The coach fosters an environment where individuals can express their views, perceptions, suggestions transparently among themselves—at the same time, acknowledging the collective needs.
  • The coach encourages effective communication within themselves to build connections to accommodate each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And effective communication outside of the team to build support outside of the team proactively. 
  • The coach acts as a mirror to help teams visualise the critical connections and relationship challenges. Moreover, this will allow teams to identify the need for effective collaboration to overcome the relationship challenges pulling the team backwards.
  • The coach fosters an environment for experimental learning. This will teach the mindset of seeing the failure as learning thus helping the team be optimistic. 

To do the above, the coach may use appropriate modalities based on situations — Team Training, Team Mentoring, Team Facilitation, Team Coaching and Team Consulting. I call this as Agile Coaching Competencies

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