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Understanding the Impact of an Agile Coach

Coaching, across all industries, stands as one of the most intensive and labour-consuming activities, demanding a diverse set of exceptional social, interpersonal, and communication skills. An Agile coach, in particular, is often likened to a superhero, given the significant impact they are expected to have within the organisations they serve.

In popular culture, superheroes symbolise figures looked up to for guidance and leadership during tumultuous times—much like the roles of agile coaches, whether spearheading a transformation or revitalising a disheartened team in the workplace. However, uncovering the true impact of an agile coach and measuring it without exaggeration is essential.

To better understand the impact of agile coaches, it’s imperative to first recognise the nine coaching stances, providing a clear understanding of the diverse roles a coach is expected to undertake within an organisation. These stances were adapted from the 1985 paper, “Principles and Dynamics of Matching Role to Situation,” by Douglas P. Champion, David H. Kiel, and Jean A. McLendon, tailored to align with our contemporary work environments. The stances can be seen below: 

Source: Dandy People

While agile coaches flexibly shift their stance based on various client needs, alternating between mentoring and facilitating, their overarching mission remains constant: guiding teams through the Agile journey, transforming them into high-performing units capable of achieving remarkable feats.

Fundamentally, the impact of an agile coach can be seen in how they are able to cultivate an environment fostering teamwork, collaboration, and perpetual improvement. Agile coaches leverage their deep understanding of Agile methodologies to empower a proficient workforce, thus streamlining operations, nurturing innovative thinking, and ultimately delivering value. 

Imagine this scenario: a team grappling to find its footing in today’s turbulent, ever-evolving landscape. Deadlines are missed, communication is fragmented, and motivation wanes. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Here, agile coaches armed with a toolkit of methodologies, frameworks, and strategies, identify the barriers impeding productivity. They then implement tailored solutions to reinvigorate teams, whether by facilitating effective communication, removing obstacles, or instilling a culture of accountability, steering teams toward sustainable success.

An agile coach wears multiple hats. They serve as educators, imparting agile principles to team members new to the methodology. They act as facilitators, nurturing self-organisation and empowering individuals to take ownership of their work. They also serve as change agents, advocating for a culture of perpetual learning and adaptation, as well as inspiring curiosity and critical thinking.

Beyond their skill set, a proficient coach is inherently humanistic and people-centric, acknowledging that while high performance is vital, it cannot be achieved without first fostering a content and motivated team.

One of our clients, a learning manager at a leading dairy company in Malaysia who collaborated with Ekipa, noted, “We became a happier team. When it comes to work, we always talk about performance, but it shouldn’t be the only thing we talk about. When we worked with Paul, we made it clear that team motivation is also crucial for us to perform well as a team. So we made conscious efforts to ensure that we are not only addressing the performance but also the team motivation.”

“(Paul’s impact can be seen) even in the form of our employee engagement survey. When we did our survey last year, our team’s engagement was very low, but when we did it again this year, the score was very high after Paul’s interventions. We scored in the top three (within the company) in terms of employee engagement while continuing to deliver the business objectives,” he added.

Agile coaches aid clients not just in responding better to changes and improving efficiency, but also in being more accountable for their work. A product manager at a mobile application company based in Singapore attested to this transformative change while collaborating with one of Ekipa’s coaches.

“When I first joined the company, it wasn’t truly agile; it followed a waterfall methodology, which felt rigid and sluggish. If I were to pinpoint one key achievement of our agile transformation, it would be that we became faster. We honed our ability to track our work and estimate our capacity,” he stated. “Ekipa introduced us to various Scrum ceremonies and crucially encouraged us to retrospect. This resulted in visible progress in our agility and speed.”

Related: Okay, but what does an agile coach actually do?

The impact of collaborating with Ekipa Agile Coaches

Working with an agile coach brings numerous additional benefits, and here are some key highlights from our clients.

  1. Stakeholder Management  

Ekipa supported the learning manager by exemplifying effective stakeholder management in the workplace. The learning manager remarked, “When Ekipa was supporting us, there was a change in management at the board level, compelling him to adapt his approach to managing stakeholder expectations. This adjustment cascaded down to the team and influenced our work dynamics,” he shared.

  1. Visualisation of Work 

Through this exercise, the learning manager and his team identified redundant activities and tasks performed by multiple individuals within the team. “Following that exercise, we streamlined our list of activities from over 100 to just 30—reflecting a 60% reduction in workload. This allowed us to prioritise and concentrate on essential tasks for business delivery,” he said.

  1. Team Dynamics

Our team assisted our clients in strengthening their team dynamics, fostering enhanced engagement among team members. “Traditionally, the manager held the spotlight, despite the team understanding what needed improvement. By leveraging facilitation, a skill built and supported by Ekipa, people were more strategically positioned to execute their work. Engagement increased as individuals could pursue their aspirations rather than being instructed on what to do,” said the learning manager.

  1. Agile Roles and Responsibilities

Unlike traditional project management, agile teams comprise individuals from diverse functions brought together for collaborative work. Through our agile coaches, a mobile payment application company in Singapore comprehended and embraced this concept. “Simply having those roles clearly defined and (Ekipa) guiding the team on the importance of this was pivotal for us,” shared the product manager at the Singapore-based mobile application company.

  1. Retrospectives

An essential Scrum ceremony under the scrum framework involves implementing retrospectives after each sprint or at key project milestones. This practice involves team reflection on past performances for future improvement. “Before engaging with Ekipa, we had no concept of retrospectives; it wasn’t part of our Scrum process. Taking a step back and assessing our strengths and areas for improvement helped us address potential issues. This was immensely beneficial for us,” noted the product manager.

  1. Cultivating an Agile Mindset and Culture

A team can sustainably adopt an agile approach only as far as they nurture it, emphasising the importance of instilling an agile mindset and culture within a team. “Previously, we predominantly used Waterfall methodologies at work. However, after working with the coaches, there was a shift in mindset—we started breaking down work into smaller chunks, developed the agility to pivot easily, and consistently delivered value instead of stating, ‘I’ll come back to you in three weeks with something to show.’ It set us on the right trajectory, shaping the way we operate today, with many of those lessons learned early on,” said the product manager.

Related: Do We Really Need An Agile Coach?

Other benefits of collaborating with an Agile Coach?

In addition to the shared experiences of our clients, several other advantages stem from working alongside an agile coach. Here’s a closer look at key areas where their expertise shines:

1. Building a Robust Agile Foundation 

Agile isn’t just a methodology; it signifies a mindset. An Agile Coach guides organisations in embracing this mindset, steering leaders and teams toward a deep comprehension of Agile values and principles. They lay the groundwork for a culture of collaboration, learning, and continuous improvement.

2. Cultivating High-Performing Teams

Agile teams form the cornerstone of successful transformations. An Agile Coach serves as a mentor, empowering individuals and teams to be self-organised, self-motivated, and accountable. By fostering an environment of trust and psychological safety, they unlock the full potential of teams, enabling them to deliver exceptional results.

3. Facilitating Clear Communication

In the dynamic realm of Agile, communication is paramount. An Agile Coach acts as a bridge, facilitating clear and transparent communication between team members, stakeholders, and leadership. They ensure everyone is aligned, eliminating silos and fostering collaboration across the organisation.

4. Embracing Continuous Learning and Adaptation

Agile revolves around embracing change and continuous improvement. An Agile Coach instils a growth mindset, encouraging teams to experiment, learn from mistakes, and adapt their approaches. They introduce Agile practices such as retrospectives, where teams reflect on their work and identify areas for improvement, creating a cycle of continuous learning and enhancement.

Related: How to make your teams deliver fast in Agile

In essence, it’s a ripple effect

In short, we found out that the impact of an Agile Coach resonates far beyond the teams they engage with. The entire organisation reaps the benefits as Agile practices take root and flourish. Increased productivity, accelerated time-to-market, enhanced customer satisfaction, and improved employee engagement are just a few of the positive outcomes that unfold.

Keen to work with our coaches? Visit us on our website for more information. 

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