Handy Tools for Agile Coaches
There are many tools available for Agile coaches to better mentor their coaches — here are some top strategies to employ in your coaching today.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
A good tool improves the way you work. A great tool improves the way you think. Jeff Duntemann
In my coaching of Scrum masters, most of the Scrum masters always inquire: what are the few key tools as a coach that can be applied to ensure coaching activities can continue even when Master coaches are not around?
Below are the few tools I have shared with the Scrum masters. I actively apply all of these tools daily in my coaching engagement.
The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. — Confucius
Tools to Use as an Agile Coach
Spheres of Influence
There are three parts to this tool.
- Subjects we can control
- Subjects we can influence
- Subjects we can’t influence, either right now or at all times
Helping your clients determine what is within their control, what is in their sphere of influence, and what cannot be controlled is essential to using this tool.
Once we realize our own sphere of influence, we can develop opportunities that produce beneficial rewards both professionally and personally. We need to take the needed steps to analyze those already within our networks who have the power and aspiration to be part of this influence.
Most of the time, I assign this tool to my Scrum master to apply this method and check if they can do anything about the situation. This tool will establish and break down the details of our present network, stimulating us to build up a better insight into the valuable contacts we already have, and how to tap into them.
Having a journal can be advantageous for many diverse reasons as a coaching exercise. Daily journaling facilitates observation and can stimulate useful brainstorming about how to better strive toward any given objective. Coaches can help ensure that their coachee journaling is essential by maintaining some guidance. When your coachee achieves certain milestones, it’s important to know what led up to that accomplishment.
Some of the points coaches can ask their mentees to touch on in their journals are progress, challenges, hurdles, roadblocks, fears, setbacks, observations, ideas, aha-moments, etc.
We, as coaches, must also maintain a journal about our observations and reflections on a team to help the team become better. We also need to document milestones and moments of success.
The GROW Model
The GROW model is a simple method for goal setting and problem-solving in coaching. It includes four stages:
- G for Goal: The goal is what the coachee wants to achieve. It should be spelled out as clearly and distinctly as possible. You can create this goal using the SMART method and define goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.
- R for Reality: This is the identification of the current situation that the coachee is presently in. The coachee describes his/her present condition and how far he/she is away from her goal.
- O for Obstacles and Options: What are the obstacles or blockages that are keeping our coachee from achieving their goal? Once these hindrances are singled out, we can find ways to overcome them — these are our options.
- W for Way forward: Once the coachee's choices are determined, they need to be translated into action steps that will help your mentee accomplish their goal.
Identifying Limiting Beliefs
Compose a list of all your limiting beliefs — these are the beliefs that stop you from moving forward. When you begin questioning your limiting beliefs, you will start to create doubt around these ideas, which will lead to you changing your beliefs. There are many questions that you can ask yourself to challenge these beliefs.
It’s essential to understand that your beliefs are not facts. However, intensely implanted beliefs can indeed be easily misinterpreted as facts. These beliefs are usually nothing more than conclusions we have carried based on our childhood encounters.
It helps team members to come out with many assumptions which were bothering them.
A team can write down when they indulge any negative thoughts, make excuses, jump to conclusions, procrastinate, worry about failure, and even more scenarios and think about these points. What events are causing these beliefs and how can we change our triggers to prevent these negative thought processes?
Balancing the Wheel of Life
The pillars of the wheel of life are health, wealth, happiness, spiritual, and mental.
Examine how balanced these components of your life are.
As a result of this exercise, our coachee will have a visual map — which will look almost like a spider web. This visual map will give our coachee a general idea of their desired state of being in relation to their current state.
As mentioned earlier in the GROW model, SMART goals bring structure and accountability into the goals we set. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. A SMART goal embodies all of these criteria in order to encourage goal setters to concentrate our efforts and strengthen the chances of obtaining those goals.
Why, What, How, When, and more open-ended questions.
Powerful questions are a reflection of engaged listening and finding out the other person’s viewpoint that is established through paraphrasing. This offers a progression from listening, paraphrasing for learning, and then asking powerful questions that provide clarity or mediation of thinking.
These sorts of questions begin with "why", "what", "how", "when" and other phrases that force an open-ended answer.
Personal SWOT Tool
Help coachees analyze their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A Personal SWOT helps coachees think about careers in terms of their strengths — and identify potentially “transferable” strengths.
A working agreement is a valuable tool to employ for installing a shared understanding and way of working for teams. Also called a social contract, this practice is an excellent foundation for building high-performing teams.
In a coaching engagement, it is essential we form a coaching agreement and contract with our coachee.
Value Discovery and Purpose Identification
Identifying your personal core values is an anchor and can serve as a turning point. When we experience a conflict or boundary issue, it’s usually because someone has stepped on a personal value. Once we are connected with our values and focused on fulfilling our greater purpose, we become self-driven and unstoppable.
I share this tool with Scrum masters and instruct them to use this tool with their team members.
The Socratic questioning technique is an effective way to examine ideas in depth. It can be used at all levels and is a helpful tool for all teachers. Questions related to conceptual clarification questions, probing assumptions, probing rationale, reasons and evidence, questioning viewpoints and perspectives, probe implications and consequences, and questions about the question can be aided using this method.
Eat the Frog
Eating the frog means working on the assignment that you need to do most at the very beginning of the day. Otherwise, the frog will eat you — meaning that you'll procrastinate it all day and likely not complete it. Pick the most significant task on your list to complete first.
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain
Deciding Whether to Collaborate
Because no two individuals have the exact same expectations and desires, conflict is an essential part of our interactions with others.
The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument is constructed to measure an individual’s behavior in conflict situations. Conflict situations are those in which the interests of two individuals develop to be incongruous. In such conditions, we can interpret an individual’s behavior along two dimensions: (1) assertiveness — the degree to which the individual seeks to comply with his/her own concerns — and (2) cooperativeness — the degree to which the individual seeks to comply with the other individual’s interests.
These two basic dimensions of behavior set five distinct modes for responding to conflict situations: competing, accommodating, avoiding, collaborating, and compromising.
Force Field Analysis
Force field analysis was created by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s. The concept behind this idea is that conditions are managed by the symmetry between forces that drive change and others that resist change. For change to take place, the driving forces must be strengthened or the resisting forces reduced.
This tool is appropriate for establishing decisions by analyzing the forces for and against a change, and for communicating the reasoning behind your selection.
These tools are all briefed here and very powerful in helping your team members achieve their goals. Learning to use these tools must be practiced and mastered for effective use.
It is essential to have good tools, but it is also essential that the tools should be used in the right way. - Wallace D. Wattles
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.