Coaching is not consulting. Unlike a consultant, who is hired to provide the answers, the coach is not in a role to know all the answers and solve all the problems. The coach may frequently challenge a coachee to take action toward their goals, but does not tell them exactly what to do.
Coaching is not friendship. Similar to a friend, a coach can also offer basic support and encouragement; however, a coach also teaches specific skills to help people change their mindset and professional behavior.
Coaching Tools and Techniques
When talking about techniques used in coaching, worth mentioning is an extremely popular model among coaches which is called -G.R.O.W. This model is a widely used coaching technique, it is proved to be effective for goal definition and accomplishment. There is also a variant of this model that is called T-G.R.O.W which provides a possibility to specify a topic - professional area within which the goals are setup.
By the way,goals should be stated in S.M.A.R.T format and be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. There is one more attribute that stands out of this paradigm and it is an eco-friendly quality of a goal. It means that the goal should not be harmful to a coahee or to people around him/her.
A good illustration of how T-G.R.O.W + S.M.A.R.T models work in practice within Scrum framework can be seen in an issue about Retrospective event that team members didn’t wish to attend. Once I dealt with such case which a SM faced during his daily work. Hence, the Topic of our personal coaching session was a Retro that was attended only by a part of the team and the people who were not involved in it. The Goal was to have a Retro that was valuable and interesting to the team. In reality, on that project some people didn't see any use of a retrospective and as a result skipped it from time to time. We discussed several Options with the SM to solve the situation.
- Discuss with the team a reason of retro negligence. Make a retro on a retro to see, what can be improved;
- Change retro format, there are dozens of formats;
- Change retro time, as maybe the current time simply is not suitable for some team members;
- Explain again the goal of the retro to the team;
- Escalation to the manager. It's not an Agile way of solving problems, though in some cases it can work and can be taken into consideration;
- Focus on involvement of all team members, try to hear not only the most vocal ones;
- Bring sweets and Coca-Cola from project budget to the Retro
During the wrap-up we defined the following action items.
- Communicate the Retro Goal for the team after the standup on the day, when Retro should take place;
- Kindly invite all the team to take part in a Retro of a new more amusing format, suggest just trying.
During the T-G.R.O.W session I used open questions and an approach of question asking that is called Navigation (worked out by Leader Coach Group), it can be easily used in combination with T-G.R.O.W and S.M.A.R.T models. The approach is focused on 4 question types and motivates us to observe our manner of asking and the coachee manner of responding. E.g (see pic. below) if a coach tends to go only "South" while coachee sticks on West, the dialog can fail and the proper goals will hardly be setup. During a personal coaching session a coach should try to go and to bring a coachee in all directions, exploring various possibilities for a coachee to pick the most effective for him/her at the given moment of time and for this particular case.
When SM implemented action items, within a couple of sprints we saw that people become more involved during Retro sessions, they pay less attention to their phones/tables, they ask more questions, participate in group discussions, show more interest. Certainly, from time to time someone still can skip a Retro, there are also people who are less enthusiastic about it then others, but the majority (90%) started seeing value in this event.
There are many other useful techniques and approaches to reach the required results, professional destination and improve a skillset. The good news is that a coachee can stay away from memorizing all these models and techniques; the most valuable coaching process is invisible for a coachee and should be evaluated only by results a coachee and organization acchieves.