Agile Coaching: Business Consultant 2.0? [5 Reading Tips]

Agile Coaching
Source: Unsplash/Nguyen Thu Hoai

Everyone is talking about agile coaching at the moment. But what exactly is an agile coach? A mentor? A business consultant? The work guru from the table across the room? Or just a person who gives you a push in the right direction every now and then?

The truth probably lies somewhere in between. In today’s reading tips of the week, we dispel some prejudices and give a few useful reading recommendations along the way.

Agile Coaches: A Definition

Agile coaching – sounds cool and trendy and like something a start-up would do. But what does an agile coach actually do? 

An agile coach supports companies and organisations in becoming or remaining self-learning and adaptable. When an agile coach is hired, many messy processes will ideally have been fixed by the end of his era.

Better yet, the company will even know how to change these processes itself. These processes can still be observed from the outside, but from the inside, the embodied values, skills and knowledge of every single person in the organisation will have changed. Sounds like a guru at first, doesn’t it?

An agile coach keeps a close eye on his clients and regularly gives them feedback on how to become more aware of their own behaviour. In other words: agile coaching mainly takes place in practice. An agile coach reflects on perceived behaviours and shares his thoughts in an appreciative way. This means that he observes employees first before coaching them.

After initially imparting knowledge via training courses, an agile coach then goes one step further and guides employees through the process of trying out agile working methods in practice. In doing so, he takes on the role of an advisor rather than participating himself.

In larger organisations, it is possible to reflect on potentially controversial organisational structures such as hierarchies, role and team definitions or to go through different responsibilities, incentive systems and salary issues. In smaller organisations, it is rather personal and informal connections between different hierarchies that play a role in mentoring.

Agile Coaches: Who Are They and How Can They Help?

For agile coaches, it is always a balancing act between employees, circumstances in the organisation and themselves. That is why they must always be aware of their actions and find out what type of coaching is appropriate at any given moment.

An agile coach can take on different roles:

  • Visionary (invites employees to dream; motivates them)
  • Coach (praises and encourages employees)
  • Partner (empathically walks down the path alongside employees)
  • Teacher (passes on theoretical & methodological knowledge)
  • Mentor (takes the reigns)
  • Observer (gives feedback and reflects)
  • Advisor (answers questions)
  • Expert (takes over responsibility and leads by example)

However, the most important thing is that he is able to teach employees how to »work on the system« and not »as part of the system«. Only then will employees be faced with new challenges that will enable them to take on new responsibilities in certain areas. A good agile coach helps to reduce the fear of taking responsibility and turn employees into self-determined individuals.

Our 5 Reading Tips of the Week

Agile Coach – What Does It Mean? [Agile.Coach]

Ask the Expert: Agile Coaching [ADLIB]

How Agile Coaching Plays a Role in Unlocking the Future of Work [Scrum.org]

How Agile Coaching Changes Things [Agile Smile]

The Top 20 Most Influential Agile People [Emergn]

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