George Bernard Shaw said: “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
If anyone needs to be able to perceive and address fixed, uninspected, and unproductive assumptions and attitudes, it’s an Agile coach, and it begins with the coach herself. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the first places to start is with the concept of “coaching.”
The concept of coaching is often misunderstood. It’s not unsurprising then to discover that many myths have sprung up around the subject of when and why we need coaching. Consider these commonly held views:
We need coaching only when we have problems.
Many people think that coaching is about fixing people and situations, putting wrong things right, that we need a coach only when we are facing current problems or our organization’s performance is really poor. With this mindset, we operate in a way that even if coaching is required, then it should be a short-term solution to an acute problem and that the coach should move on as soon as the immediate situation has been sorted out.
Coaching is for managers and team leaders only.
Since coaching is a people development tool, we may think that it means we must have people to coach. Else, what is the point of developing good coaching skills if we do not currently operate as managers, supervisors or team leader, and we don’t have people reporting to us?
Coaching is time-consuming.
Coaching is more than at first meets the eye. It requires a lot of listening, understanding, and patience. If we take into consideration that the typical team will have at least five to nine people working in it, then we can see that the team leader’s task to coach them all in sessions is hopeless. If we consider a coaching session to every one of them every four or six weeks, in sessions lasting up to an hour, how would we do any work?
Coaching needs expertise in the underlying subject.
In order to coach somebody to do something, we need to be able to do it, right? How can we expect the coachee to take us seriously if we are not prepared or able to do what we ask them to do? Especially in Agile where the person being coached is looking for tips and techniques on all these ceremonies, right? But, how can we keep up with all the changes in the ways that people do their jobs? all the best practices!
Coaching is a fancy name for feedback and training.
Many people consider coaching to be that feedback exercise that occurs as part of an organization’s performance management or appraisal system. In some organizations, coaching is to be that activity of a colleague sitting with you while dealing with a customer, taking notes, and then running through the list and making suggestions for improvement later in a quiet area.
Other organizations don’t really see the difference between coaching and other methods of developing people like teaching, training, or mentoring. After all, the point is to make people better at what they do.
There are some commonly held views. Which ones are true, which are myths, and which ones are in between? Share your thoughts! I will also in a coming post