We, Scrum Masters at Allegro, undertake actions that facilitate the work of our Developers, Product Owners and the Organization itself. We are working with individuals and teams in a variety of ways to remove impediments, increase their agility, etc. We do not limit ourselves to only following the Scrum Guide as this 16-pager is only a framework — the possibilities of acting as a change agent, facilitator and servant leader seem to be endless.
What is coaching?
One of our initiatives is Team Members Coaching. Perhaps, not all of you are familiar with the idea of coaching, so let me briefly explain. Coaching combines the best bits of what psychology has to offer and some new tools and improvements. It lets the coachee (the client of the coach) tackle his or her problems, achieve goals and find the inner energy needed to implement the changes in real-life.
I want to highlight that we are talking about a process here. Sometimes your problem can vanish into thin air after one session, but most of the time, it is the work in between or after the session that does the trick. One more thing — according to coaching rules, it is you who knows best how to tackle a problem or achieve a goal. The answer is in you and the coach is your assistant who helps you find it. And you know what? It really works.
In our daily lives, we find ourselves in different emotional states, trying to get things going, but the results may be far from what we have imagined. Let it be personal life or business — it all ends up with how vividly we see the goal and how motivated we are. Sometimes, we also live by the rules that were injected into our minds when we were young or when growing up. Some of them may be outdated, but we still live by them and do not see the full spectrum of options available now.
I would compare it to a high-performance computer that runs Windows 95 or, even worse, 3.11. You have got the most advanced hardware, but the software can be outdated. When you are working with your problems, either yourself or with a coach, it is like you are upgrading software to make better use of the “guts” you have to offer. It allows you to be more efficient, your mind free of unnecessary worries, problems and with a clear vision of where you want to go. You are better focused on your work or in your personal life, better motivated and you know what is best for you.
What is the catch?
Having painted such a perfect picture, you are probably thinking about the small print part. Perhaps we should all have a session or two and live a perfect life, huh? Let me explain.
You may gain nothing from coaching when you do not want to participate in the session and someone pushes you to do that, or when you are not ready to work on things you managed to get from your session. Again, this is a process so you should be ready to give your best to achieve more in your life. Nobody is going to make the decision and work for you. Another thing is that the market is not regulated and you may encounter coaches on different levels of proficiency in their craft. You may not be able to tell the difference based just on the price. Check where they have gained their knowledge and look for their materials (essays, videos, interviews etc.) online. Do a background check.
The first step
To recap, everything depends on you and your determination. In Western cultures coaching is nothing unusual. It is certainly not psychotherapy, but provides you with measurable results much faster. Nevertheless, in some situations psychotherapy might be a better option. In the past, coaching used to be available only to higher managers due to high cost. Though it is more accessible now, in many companies (I would say in majority) developers do not have the opportunity to work with a coach.
At Allegro we have coaches in three biggest locations in Poland where the company operates. Professionals train the coaches in their craft — not only in theory but also, and what is most important, in practice. You can schedule a session with anyone of them — either face to face or via Skype or any other online tool. We guide the client through the process so he or she can just concentrate on the exercises, questions and finding the answer to the problem. A sample problem might be bad communication with another team where talks do not give any results and the level of frustration is rising. On a coaching session you can gain new perspectives, work out a new, better approach.
Want to try coaching? Firstly, if your company enables you to attend coaching, check two things — if the meetings are confidential and if you can talk freely about your problems, not only those work related. It will help you build the environment where you can tackle what lies ahead without any boundaries. Secondly, try to think on what you want to work on — the problem or goal you are trying to find the answer for. Thirdly, do the first step and schedule a session. By doing this you can sort out the things that are blocking you and focus on coding itself which, you should notice, is better. You are not being distracted and your thoughts are on the code. Not sure if it will work for you? Just try.