Six tips for hiring an excellent Agile Coach for your team

Photo by: Cytonn Photography.

There is a lot of discussion in Agile about hiring good Agile Coaches. This can be confusing and complicated because it has been difficult for companies to know the minimum qualities required for the role. This article aims to describe, through 6 questions, the keys I look for when hiring an Agile Coach for my companies or when I participate in selection processes as an interviewer, and why these qualities are essential for you.

1. Do they understand the value that they are going to accompany?

I have long argued that the Agile Coach is one of the most critical roles in a team. Will the companies that hire them to understand the same? And, furthermore… Will the Agile Coach understand the value that is about to accompany?

For example, I recently received a call from someone who had just started as an Agile Coach. This person told me that a company had just hired her but that he did not know anything about the company or the company’s value he was accompanying (and he had already been working for one month). When I asked him about the value onboarding process or his diligence to understand the value, the answer was that the circumstances were not yet there. Before hiring an Agile Coach, I always ask about the “why” of accompanying him in a business-like the one he plans to enter or re-enter.

An excellent Agile Coach must understand the value and the business that goes with it. This helps to ask the right questions at the right time. In addition, it helps with the beautiful exercise of empathy with value decision-makers and the noble task that these have in being true “owners” and their constant struggle to prioritize the needs of the business and its customers.

I have seen many Agilists who are very competent in countless frameworks or techniques but have no idea of ​​the value they accompany. This is key when hiring someone in this role because Agile is a mentality that will serve us as an advantage to improve against our competition continuously. We must continually inspect and adapt our business, products, and services to improve constantly. Since the Agile Coach is part of the Value system, they must know the company and the value that goes with it. Remember, (I use this analogy a lot in my training) if it’s Software or empanadas… Knowing the increased value is critical and what excellence means in that Software or… in those empanadas.

2. Do they understand that their role has no hierarchy?

To be flexible and adaptable, you need people willing to serve continuously in sharing this competence across organizations. A good agile coach knows that he is a servant leader and does with humility at all times.

A common mistake I see is when someone looking for an Agile Coach expects them to fix everything or be the person with the “I’m here to tell you what to do” posture. That is not an excellent Agile Coach. It would help if you didn’t tell people what to do but work with them to find the best solution for their context.

Sure, it’s nice to have mentoring experience. Still, if your main goal is to look down on others, well, that doesn’t work in this space, and you may want to look for a middle manager role at another organization that can meet your needs. of ego

Good Agile Coaches have no ego. They are humble people who help teams learn how to improve using a holistic and systemic approach to value (No Bias). That humility helps them be a chameleon with four hats (Mentor, Coach, Trainer, and Facilitator)… Did you notice that not even remotely that of the consultant?

3. Are they flexible and adaptable and not selling you any framework or scaling?

The most important thing for an Agile Coach is to know the organization and its culture. That information and its systemic approach that will help to understand and then accompany that flexible and adaptable ways should be part of the organization’s philosophy, thanks to a custom way of working.

If a coach only sells you a specific framework or mentions that climbing is the way to go without understanding your value system… Runaway. A true believer in Agility will know how to listen to understand and then propose any improvement experiment. He knows that adapting flexible and adaptable ways allows a practice to shape the process continually. If you’re ever in a situation where someone says they know the answer or how to do something, you should ask questions like, “How do you know?” “What makes you say that?” “You’re sure?” “Have you looked at this from another angle?”

If someone has an answer for everything, it’s probably because they haven’t been challenged enough and don’t have the curiosity to ask or receive those questions.

4. Are they comfortable with conflict and diverse opinions?

Suppose your organization does not clearly understand what it wants to achieve by being adaptable and flexible. In that case, no Agile Coach will help you. While some Agile Coaches may try to guide you towards their agenda (Typical of the self-centered pseudo-consultant or By the Book), an excellent Agile Coach will turn the tables on you and ask you to define it. This may seem obvious, but you will realize thanks to facilitation and inclusion if you understand how he does it.

A good agile coach is comfortable navigating uncertainty and facilitating conflict. Conflict is inevitable in any team where people have different ideas and opinions. An excellent Agile Coach will create neutral and diverse spaces, super-inclusive, where everyone has a say.

Good Agile Coaches can facilitate this conflict (understanding that the solution is not in their hands and that its resolution is a shared responsibility) and turn it into something constructive by asking questions that get to the root of the problem. They also offer opportunities for everyone involved (including themselves) to step back and reflect on their point of view before taking the next step.

5. Do they have a strong sense of self-awareness, systems thinking, and emotional intelligence?

If I can summarize the role of the Agile Coach, it would be: Helping others to see and understand their behaviors and the impact they have while becoming more flexible and adaptable. The coach is responsible for being emotionally intelligent and knowing himself and his emotions to accompany others. He knows how to see things from different points of view and helps others see the value. A good agile coach does not impose his ideas or way of working on others. On the contrary, he knows how to listen, and for this, he has a strong sense of self-awareness and great respect for others.

Systems thinking is about seeing the big picture or the significant connections connecting the dots between the parts of a system. A systems thinker can see how each decision impacts the other parts of a system (and vice versa). Systems thinkers can make connections between seemingly unrelated events and problems. They see how the various components work together to make the whole work smoothly. They identify the system areas that need improvement and create experiments without bias: Let’s understand that respect, systemic thinking, and emotional intelligence goes hand in hand.

6. Are they good coaches, mentors, facilitators, and trainers?

An excellent Agile Coach is not a consultant nor a manager. Understands that every transformation process is not managed. It is accompanied and eludes hierarchical titles (Head of Agile and/or Agility Manager and/or Deputy Manager of Organizational Agile and/or as I recently saw on Linkedin: General Manager of Agility Corporate Manager, Change Management Manager/or Agile Manager & Enterprise Agile Coach). Instead of worrying about climbing among their peers, a good Agile Coach is concerned with stepping more profound into the knowledge, competencies, and skills of professional coaching, mentoring, facilitation, and training.

As a Coach, you help the coachee explore a problem and find a solution, following their path. As a Trainer, you allow others to learn topics about Agility that they do not know or require reinforcement with an expert adult education approach. As a Facilitator, you help to identify objectives and their achievements, as a team, without breaking neutrality. As a Mentor, you give advice, options, and opinions that help on a specific topic. You contribute knowledge to people, teams, or organizations. You show your expertise in the best possible way… By doing it and recognizing that it is a constant path, therefore and in humility, you continue to learn.

The Agile Coach has the task of creating an environment where teams can develop and deliver value incrementally and accompany this with his four hats.

Final words

Hiring the right Agile Coach is a life-or-death decision today for any company or organization. It is necessary to know what the role does and does not do to avoid confusion and subsequent bad practices that inevitably lead to “Fake Agile.” The right Agile Coach will walk with your team, asking questions to discover what could be improved and refusing to let people settle for suboptimal discussions that can quickly hamper productivity and cause the unit to stagnate. A good agile coach collaborates with people, teams, and organizations in a creative and stimulating journey based on trust, openness, and flexibility., using Professional Coaching, Mentoring, Facilitation, Training, Agile & Growth Mindset, Agile Values, and Principles approaches to help them “Be” and “Do” Agile in the best possible way.

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