Friday, 23 July 2010

Giving up as a coach

Xavier wanted to have this discussion on when do you give up as a coach.
It was attended by Dadi, Liz, Marc L, Patrick Kua, Mack Adams, Racha H, Petra Skapa, Gordon Barrs, Rachel D and perhaps a few others who joined in later on.

I thought it is an interesting one because as a change agent it is inevitable to consider giving up especially when you’re introducing a considerable change and people usually resist changing and even if you find your way around getting them to define their own change it does take time and can be frustrating.

We started by discussing if giving up is a failure. Xavier posed his questions – at what point it is not worth it? What does it mean to give up?

It was pointed out that if teams or individuals don’t want to be coached then we should look for underlying problems. We could try understanding how to game agile(the change) in people’s favour.

For some teams it might be necessary to ask the question – is Agile right? Is Coaching right?

The problem could be in product strategy as well. Teams might be asked to deliver the wrong thing or with less quality which is why they could be de-motivated.
Most of the time finding the problems within the team can be crucial to understanding what is wrong elsewhere in the organization.

Xavier pointed out that as a non technical coach it might be difficult to teach technical practices in which case you only suggest but cannot really mentor.
Do you estimate impediments or organizational changes – for example introducing TDD?

The group said yes of course – they take time.
Sometimes giving up can be useful so we should always have exit criteria- if you have to leave when you do then give them the feedback. They may not understand it at that point in time but when/if their organization moves in the right direction they eventually will and they will call you back. Being honest could be good even if it means you have to leave.

Coaching people on the team to be coaches can be useful for you exit criteria - what happens when you leave?

Someone mentioned the situational leadership model- with 4 phases – telling, selling participating, delegating.

Are we able to coach executive level managers? Must be a very good coach, must be able to help them discover things.

Transformational backlog is important – you have something to start with and it shows that you do work. For reference - Leading change – Richard Durnall’s blog

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