As scrum master I usually spend most of my time coaching agile values and helping the team to embrace agile ceremonies and artifacts. I believe that is very important that we are able to coach them to keep learning and keep improving in their career path.
Coaching is a very personal act and for that reason there is no single tool that will be helpful for all the situations. During my career I found that the two most important factors to define the course of action are willing to listen and natural skills.
- Good Skill + Good Will : This people are the rockstars, they’re difficult to find, but they can grow to higher positions in the organizations. As coach you should help him to challenge them outside of his comfort zone, for instance, you can challenge them to accept a promotion or to work in more complex tasks.
- Good Skill + Bad will: Sometimes you will find people with years of experience on their back, but low interest on adapting and learning. They’re difficult to coach because they’re very experienced on their field and they might not realize that they need the coaching. Usually this type of people is very logical, so try to get logical explanations about the areas of improvement. You can also refer to senior celebrities or books on their field of experience to provide direct advise.
- Bad Skill + Good will: I personally like a lot this case, as it can give you a great sense of achievement. It usually happens when some junior member joins the team. He is not very experience and doesn’t have the ability to perform his job, but he’s more than willing to listen and to improve. Usually this people can become a rockstar after a period of time. I found a similar case in my last company while working as lead scrum master I had to coach a Product Owner. No one before spent time coaching him and he was in a bad situation towards the company. We spent two months of coaching and hard work. After this period his skills and performance raised above expectations and he become the best Product Owner in the whole studio.
- Bad Skill + Bad will : This people doesn’t last long on the same place, they don’t have skill to work on his current assignments but they’re not willing to listen. In this case, my suggestion would be to try to show him the importance of continuous improvement, but be aware that there will be very little chance of success.
All the categories above can be temporal as people might change. So avoid labeling your coachee, but be aware of his status and his needs.
As general advice when coaching someone, saying “good job” when they’re performing as expected will work better than saying “you screwed it” when there is a mistake.
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