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Coaching, Coding and Learning By George Evjen
Book Notes from 'Coaching Agile Team' By Lyssa Adkins

Coaching at the Very Beginning

  • The coaching intervention at the beginning of the teams first sprint together sets the tone for much of what follows
  • Coaching intervention as the team start-up, teaching the team about the agile framework to be used
  • Teaching them about the vision of the project and the work ahead.


Coaching in the Middle

  • In the middle of the sprint, coaching at the whole team level quites down.
  • As a simple, lightweight  conversation between team members, a midsprint check yields renewed ideas and plans about how they are going to get the rest of the work done.
  • Since agile coaches protect the teams' ability to focus by leaving them alone to work - midsprint is the perfect time for individual coaching
  • When someone does something particularly helpful or powerful, talk to them about it in front of the rest of the team.


Coaching at the End

  • The end signals a natural time for the team to look back at how they've worked together and decide what to do to make the next sprint even better.
  • The retrospective - during this intervention, facilitate the teams conversation so that they come up with a few things they agree to change in the next sprint
  • Generate a list of improvements
  • Learn how best to learn from one another.


Coaching at the Release Level

  • Coach individuals and teams at the same time.


Coaching Tone

  • No matter whether you are coaching at the whole team or individual level, set your coaching tone to these frequencies
    • Love
    • Compassionate
    • Uncompromising
  • You don’t ever have to say these words - love, compassion - for them to know that they are valued and supported.
  • Coaching helps each person get to that next level of professional growth that makes their work relevant to their whole life.
  • True saying in coaching - a friend loves you the way you are - a coach loves you too much to let you stay that way.
  • Love them too much to let them stay that way.
  • You know what an excellent agilist looks like, talks like, and acts like.
  • Teams whose definition of agile has been twisted around dysfunction of the people in and around the team and the organization itself
  • As their coach - I hold out a clear picture of what agile done well looks like, and I do not ever compromise that vision.


Coaching People One-On-One

  • There comes a time to work with people one on one.
  • Four pieces of groundwork to set in place
    • Meet them a half step ahead
    • Guarantee safety
    • Partner with managers
    • Create a positive regard


Meet The a Half Step Ahead

  • The basic principal in coaching states - that we meet our coaching clients 'where they are' - not where we are or where we thing they should be or where we know they have the ability to go - but where they are, right now.
  • To detect where they are - listen to them.
    • Listen to their beliefs about how the working world works and should work.


Guarantee Safety

  • Agile coaches uphold an environment of experimentation and risk taking because we know that only such a place will brilliance emerge.
  • Coach them to work together to resolve problems within the team.


Partner with Managers

  • Positive intentions revolve around your desire to help each person reach their full potential.
  • Each team members manager affects the whole team overtly and covertly.
    • Overtly, the managers performance review expectations drive certain behaviors
  • If the manager does not support agile, its hard for the team member to invest fully in the team.
  • Basically you need to know how the team will be rewarded so you can see whether it supports or thwarts working in a shared commitment environment.
  • Manager realized how detrimental the message would be to his main goal - which was to get more and better products from the agile teams.
  • Partnering with managers can often be helpful and essential.
  • In a sense some intense coaching coming up soon with a team member- let the team members manager in on the action.
  • The behavior that gets in the way of an agile team is the very behavior the manager has been telling a direct report they should improve for some time.
  • Agile gives managers great help in that regard. Because an agile demands full participation.


Create Positive Regard

  • You don’t have to like people you coach - but you do have to help them.
  • They know when you view them as a problem to solve rather than as a human being with hopes, dreams, desires.
  • Stay out of the box and see people as people rather than as problems.
  • As you prepare to coach someone - check yourself.
  • A truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively.
  • Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations but rather on needs of the other.
  • Feel genuine compassion for where this person is in life and work.
  • You are ready to be uncompromising in your knowledge of what it means to be a good agile team member and to help a person move towards that vision.


How you Coach People One-On-One

  • Starting the Coaching Conversation
    • Its almost certain that the coachee will not be accustomed to real conversation in the workplace. So they will likely be uncomfortable at first.
    • As soon as you start coaching a team, open the one-on-one conversations immediately when there's nothing wrong and there's every chance for a wide ranging open dialog.
    • Remember your job - to help each team member take the next step in their agile journey.
  • Watch for the Arc of the Conversation.
    • Look for the arc of the conversation
    • Conversation Beginning.
      • Someone started the conversation -
      • Usually its venting on the coachee part
      • Be aware of when the real reason the coachee has started to talk begins
    • Conversation Middle.
      • This happens because the coach asks powerful questions that invite introspection
      • Note something the coach purposefully avoids during the conversation - problem solving
    • Conversation End
      • Once the coachee has chosen the action to take, the coach supports the coachee by setting up accountability for that action.
      • As you repeatedly coach someone, without forcing, move from soft accountability to explicit accountabilities.
    • Remain on the same peer level with the coachee
    • Keep it positive and moving forward
    • The person is more important than the formula.
  • Subject Matter Expertise Coaching
    • All of these people may have far more subject matter expertise in their specific area than you have.
  • Coaching From a Distance
    • When you coach at a distance - you will not witness the events as they unfold on the team firsthand.
  • Know your Limits
    • Your main job as agile coach revolves around enabling people to use agile well
    • Reinforcing practices or helping someone see how agile solves something they struggle with
    • Means getting into how people feel about their work or their role on team
    • Expect that as you coach people will start to open up to you - work and life.
    • Offer expertise about agile - don’t offer your expert opinion on their life


Coaching Product Owners

  • Working with product owners means teaching them their role and then showing them how to work agile to their best advantage.
  • Need to focus on business value and not on managing the next move of every team member.
    • They will need to learn to trust the team.
  • Show the product owner new ways for agile to benefit their company and their careers.
  • To be able to coach product owners - you need a common language.
  • Once they understand their role - then you start coaching them
  • You must address anything that affects the teams ability to deliver and improve.
  • Focus on team improvement - team health rather than personal opinion or politics
  • Coaching the product owner - three categories
    • Running their business
    • Being product owner for the team
    • Getting good at the product owner role.
Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 12:04 PM Agile | Back to top

Comments on this post: Coaching Agile Teams - 5

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