Skip to main content

Ask a Professional Scrum Trainer: Being Effective in The Coaching Stance

June 8, 2022

There are seemingly countless ways to help agile teams become more effective. At the end of the day though, when it comes to truly unlocking the full potential of an agile team and reaping all the benefits Professional Scrum has to offer, people, teams, and organizations have to embrace new ways of thinking. And if you’re a Scrum Master, Agile Coach, or another type of change agent in an organization, it can be challenging to encourage people on their journey to embrace new ways of thinking and working.

Fortunately, we can lean on coaching to aid us in this work. Coaching is a non-directive way of meeting a person where they are on their journey, helping them connect with their existing talent and wisdom, and leading them to find within themselves what it takes to try new things. Additionally, coaching is critical for enabling change and transformation that sticks.

The Ask a Professional Scrum Trainer series features Professional Scrum Trainers (PSTs) in a live session, answering your most pressing questions regarding the challenges and situations your Scrum Teams are facing.

During this interactive Ask a PST session moderated by Leslie Morse, you will get answers from Professional Scrum Trainers Stephanie Ockerman and Steve Trapps  who frequently leverage the coaching stance when working with their clients. 

Transcript below:


Welcome to the community podcast, a podcast from the home of Scrum. In this podcast we feature professional scrum trainers and other scrum practitioners sharing their stories and experiences to help learn from the experience of others. This episode is a previous recording of our live ask a professional scrum trainer series, where a live audience asks questions of professional scrum trainers. We hope you enjoy this episode.

Leslie Morse  0:30  
Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to the Ask a PST session, where we're going to be talking about how to be effective in the coaching stance. My name is Leslie Moore, some on staff with And I'm really pleased to be joined by two of our PST today Stephanie Ockerman and Steve Trapps, we will get a quick introductions from them very shortly. And in case you don't know about, we are the home of Scrum, founded by Ken Schwaber, who is a co creator of Scrum. And we're the home of where professional scrum trainers of thrive and live right our mission is to help people in teams solve complex problems. And we do that through the use of Scrum. And then it's not only about training, on the website, you'll find tons of resources that you can use for ongoing learning, thought leadership in terms of the scrum guides and the Nexus guide and the EBM guide and other things that we've published. And then we've got our assessments that provide a leading certifications that are out there in the scrum plate or in the scrum global scrum community. My words are getting all tangled yellow. I'm excited about this conversation today. Coaching is a topic that I'm super passionate about. And I'm excited for us to have a conversation about how coaching can help us enable professional scrum within the world. So without any further rambling on my side, Stephanie, can you tell us just a little bit about you, when you became a PST? And maybe how you discover coaching just to help people orient to where you are in your own journey? 

Stephanie Ockerman  2:10  
Absolutely. So my name is Stephanie Ockerman, when did I become a PST, like, oh, I needed to prepare for that I honestly couldn't even get up here.Like seven, eight years ago, something like that. And time is, you know, as we know, a little bit wonky lately. So I run the agility business, called  Agile Sox. And I do focus a lot on training because I think that's super foundational love professional scrum training courses. And there are also additional things we need to bring in. And so I do in terms of my discovery of coaching,

I, I really resonate with the Scrum Master role, I played all the roles, and you know, there's certain aspects of my personality and skills that I can bring to all of the different roles in the Scrum Team. But I really like my part because with the scrum master role, and it was sort of kind of my path of being a scrum master, realizing, you know, like, there's, they talked about this thing called coaching, stands and facilitation, and others, you know, they talked about these different things and being able to teach and so I realized that where I really needed to grow was was likely the coaching skills. And so I went down a journey,

did some research, talked to some people in the in the Agile world that I really respected and knew had kind of those coaching skills, about their journeys, and ultimately went down the path of doing the five horse training series through co active coaching. And I was pretty much hooked from the beginning and like, really dove into like, Whoa, this is a whole bigger world than I thought it was, again, that resonated with me. You know, I would say not not even just with the scrum master role, but like in life, I can see a lot of possibilities from it. So I kind of went down a deeper dive, and I continue, keep, I continue that journey to that because there's so much more to continue uncovering and so that has led me to trying to bring that into the work I do. So creating some accessible resources content, online video based training to kind of help Scrum Masters or like I don't really need to invest in full on professional coaching training,

to be able to understand what coaching can be and what it can bring. And so there's something a little bit more than just Scrum, just teaching just facilitation, other agile practices. I think coaching is something that just you layer into everything. So that's kind of in by discovery, and by 30 Awesome.

Leslie Morse  4:54  
 Thank you, Stephanie. Steve, what about you? 

Steve Trapps  4:57  
Um, well, I've been a Professional Scrum Trainer for

for four years now, we're coming up to five, I think, which and it's just whizzed by, like Stephanie was saying, you know, what year in and 70 years have merged into one. And it just the same crazily. So yeah, so I've been a scrum trainer for four or five years now and love it. I love helping people to work in this complex world. My background before that, though, I was a developer,

working in those problems, when can we have this? And you know, the all those those complex areas, and being a trainer, being from a software background as well, often I find myself, why is it so hard? To do things? Why it's so difficult? Why can I not answer these questions that are reasonable questions, and why do I? Why do I feel so bad about this when I can't do this? So naturally, I was leaning towards the scrum master role. And you know, it's definitely saying about having the skills of a coach, I really wanted to explore what does that mean, you know, I'd say of a scrum master. But there's aspects of skills, which is coaching. I have never, in my career at that point, really gone into anything about coaching, I'd seen people do coaching, or what I thought was coaching, and then going through in a similar route to Stephanie, the coactive. And there are other other coaching places out there, as well, as Stephanie and I both went down the same route, probably for the same reason. And within the first 510 15 minutes of being on a course, and experiencing coaching. It was like, wow, it was like going, you know, this going through the looking glass. It was just like, What is this world that we've gone into, you know, I felt quite comfortable being part of the scrum world and being a scrum trainer, then all of a sudden, what is this place where, you know, I'm exploring feelings, I'm exploring what why I get triggered certain ways, why I act ways and how I can help other people find similar kinds of things out for themselves to be the best that they can be, you know, to fulfill their potential. And that is one of the great things about being a coach, you know, interlinking into what Stephanie was saying about being a servant leader. It just helps people reach their potential. And we'll have a conversation along the way, we'll learn something and we'll move on. So I'm relatively new to be a coach, a formal coach. And I've kind of been doing it for a long time, my career because a lot of people I've worked with is often supporting and helping them as like, what can we do to help move forward? So it's kind of naturally fitted together? Yeah,

Leslie Morse  7:37  
Let's before we really get into this discussion, and already like, I see some people dropping questions into chat. Lindsay, who's part of the staff will help us be monitoring the chat and any technical support. But if you really want to make sure your question comes up in the queue, for ones that will explore with Stephanie, and, Steve, please be sure to put your questions in the q&a feature, because as the moderator today, that's really what I'm looking at is that pull the questions that we'll be asking them. And before we get to those, because there's a bunch of really good ones coming in already. Let's talk about the word coaching for just a minute. You know, sometimes we joke in the Agile universe of like capital, a agile versus lower case agile and like how those words are different. We're kind of talking about capital C coaching here. When we think about the Agile coaching competency framework, right in the book coaching agile teams that Lisa Adkins published, I guess, about 21 years ago now, and your coaching, being one of the four kind of primary stances coaching, teaching, facilitating, and mentoring. The the word coaching in this instance, is inspired by what is known as professional coaching, right? The discipline and the code of ethics and the competencies and the skills of professional coaching, right, most notably defined by the international coaching Federation ICF, or the European mentoring and coaching council emcc. So when we're talking about coaching, that is what we really mean today, the professional coaching skills, and how they influence the way we show up as we're Scrum Masters or agile coaches or product owners or agile leaders. And when we are choosing intentionally, to bring those skills in to how we serve the people, teams and organizations that we're working with. So like just want to route in for a minute, what we mean by coaching. And both of you sort of alluded to in your introductions that as you study professional coaching, it inherently impacts who you are as a person and you start sprinkling in coaching skills and coaching techniques to like all All of the ways that you work. But one of the things that I really appreciate about the use of the word stance when we think about coaching is that it is you are forced to make the intentional choice, given the situation I am in right now, with this individual or this team, I am going to choose to have a coaching conversation or choose to be in a coaching stance, because that will best serve this situation, how do the two of you decide that that is the right move to make, in any given moment, like unzip your brains for us and kind of unpack that decision making logic?

Steve Trapps  10:46  
It's definitely gonna go first or a bit of a hospital pass, but

Stephanie Ockerman  10:51  
I love it. I love it. Such a big question. Like, how do I make that decision? Well, okay, so for me a lot depends on so let's assume I have a scrum master those different roles I can. So if I am a scrum master, part of a scrum team? You know, let's start there. Publicly jority people are, are or have been or will be in that situation. You know, I'm really looking at establishing like, where is this team staying there? And where are the individuals that are part of that team? And then a little bit of organizationally, right, you can have a service to the organization, but I am probably starting with individual team, and understanding like what's going on in terms of the development of the team's identity, right, like real cohesion there. And that, of course, is going to impact the team process. But that's kind of another aspect of like, that's the are we delivering value frequently, with quality, right? Like that's, are we getting done frequently? And then the team identity is like, who are we right? And do we like, really like bold? This? Are we like operating as a team that cares about and measures our success results? So those are a couple of the things that I have been looking at to see like, where are the challenges. And so if I see that, especially the team identity aspect is really not been growing, or maybe just attention hasn't been put there, or things have changed, that we've gone backwards. That is typically a science. More coaching, more of a coaching approach and more formal coaching approach. So that's like one example of like, how I make that how I decide. And I also want to point out if people can be in different places, right, so like, there's the team, and then there's the individuals. And so I'm always looking at the different levels is something that is kind of a word, I'll use to call it a coach as an individual level, like which one when it comes to the organizational level, which is still made up of individuals, right. So sometimes there are individual one on one coaching conversations of having I shouldn't say sometimes, often there are, and I will tend to establish that with team members when I joined a team, or we're starting up a team, making sure we have that place that we can always have a coaching conversation available to us on a regular cadence, and making it clear to them like, what does it mean when we're having these conversations, it's like when I am part of your scrum team. And when we have these conversations and coaching, and here's what that means. And I do the same when I'm working with certain key stakeholders. And sometimes I'll have those relationships where we'll have one on one coaching conversations with certain managers or other key stakeholders as well, depending on my role in that specific instance. So that's one example of like, find a scrum master. And I'll go ahead, I have other examples that we can share. But I'll go ahead and toss it to you to see if you want to add to that or bring in another scenario.

Steve Trapps  14:02  
It's it's similar kind of style as yourself. What I tend to do is look, I mean, one of the first key lessons that I ever learned was revealed, not resolved. And it was like, Okay, there's this issue here, folks, what are we going to do about it? And then when you get the blank faces back, it's like, okay, so now there's a conversation we need to have here. How do we move forward? You know, I could tell you that you need to version the API, I could tell you because that's from my experience with it might be wrong. So what are we going to do? And through the exploration through coaching is like, Okay, what's the best thing we could do here? I don't know what I came to why didn't we start using some of those skills, powerful questions? What do we move forward with? What what are we trying to achieve? So you have those conversations, but also you're picking up on those subtle nonverbal communication you're getting from people you know, that you know, active listening with three, three levels of listen thing, are you actually listening to your own voice just coming out? Or actually you're listening to what they're saying and thinking I'm gonna respond this way? Or are you thinking actually? Okay, yeah. taking it all in and absorbing what's going on in the dynamics of the team? So it really depends on the situation, the your relationship with the team, and the organization, to, when do you take in go in between the different things. There's a book that I'm reading at the moment, the badass coaching or something like that by Robert galley. Like, yeah, and he talks about, you know, switching between the stances between the skills, quite rightly, because we're going from one to the another. And if you were coaching somebody at a sea level area, and you're saying, Well, how does that make you feel? You know, that kind of thing. And they may push back on this and say, What do you mean talking about further want to talk about feelings? I just want that problem solved. So then there's that aspect of okay, well, we're going to come a different way. And we're going to be maybe a bit more consultancy, we're going to do a bit more advisory and but we're going to still be going through to the actual getting through to the the nub of the problem that we're trying to solve and help that person see that problem, as well as opposed to think it's not my problem to worry about. So picking on what Stephanie was saying, it depends on the situation that you're in, wanting to switch, but it just comes with a bit of practice. And you could tell what it falls flat, because it falls flat. And you just go okay.

Leslie Morse  16:24  
Yeah, the one thing that I didn't quite hear you all say in this sort of relates explicitly to one of the early questions that we had come in from our participant, Daniel Cohen, he said, what's your approach to shifting in real time between coaching, mentoring, advisory teaching? Right, all of the or facilitation may be right in these different stances. One of the things I didn't hear you say, as you think about those in the moment choices is to practice coaching ethically, you must get consent from the person you're coaching, like, you know, is that okay with you, or else you kind of are just sort of doing sophistical, sophisticated psychological manipulation of someone. So as you think about sort of not just being coaching inspired, but really choosing to have a coaching conversation and navigation between those different stances. How does that work in a skillful way? Knowing that you want to do things ethically? Yeah,

Steve Trapps  17:27  
Whether I've done that in the past and seen it dramatically fail as well, is just just saying, Hey, can I ask some questions? I'm curious, inviting people in to say and either say no, or Yes, or, you know, that kind of thing. But having that, hey, I'm curious. I've got some questions that okay, if I ask them, and because then that invites you in, that I was working with somebody who was coaching a team, and they didn't have that permission from they hadn't gone down that route, for whatever reason. And the team was really reluctant to be coached, or to have coaching conversations. And it was, they didn't, they didn't want it. So there was never going to happen until, you know, we asked for that permission. Hey, is it okay, if I ask some questions? And go from there?

Stephanie Ockerman  18:14  
Yeah. And that's actually what I meant by like, establishing regular conversations. Part of that is the education around what is coaching and asking for the consent. And one piece I want to add to that is, what's what what I found was very, very tricky, especially before I actually got trained in coaching, and like, got some more tools and things to work with. And also just more competence is having a very explicit discussion around like confidentiality of like, what is said, and making sure that like, I'm not using something somebody told me in my in the one on one coaching call, and like, dropping a bomb in a team working session that does not like that's the ethics aspect of it, right? Let's be clear with managers of the team around what is going to be confidential, what's not shared, but what does need to be shared because of my responsibility as a scrum master, right, what I'm accountable for what the rest of the team is accountable for, what that manager is accountable for, what their role is, because not every managers role is the same. And so I always make sure that I have a very strong relationship with the manager of the team. And I've been lucky and that it's usually the same person, like a lot of different managers. But really being able to like help that manager understands like, I need you to trust me and I need you to trust the team and like I you know, how are we going to find how are we going to know what that line is around when I come to you with something and also making that clear to all of the individual team members because I don't really want it to be me coming to a manager? Right? Like, it all depends on context of what the situation is. But like kind of, again, taking responsibility and ownership, like encouraging others on the team, right to bring conversations to managers first, you know, in that situation so, so yeah, like, I think that is an important aspect is to educate on what we mean by coaching. And to Steve's point, you might realize, like, oh, I kind of need a coaching conversation with this, these people over here. And that's, we haven't established that. Right. And so that might be a little bit of an in the moment, it might feel less formal. But you know, you can do a quick little education on like, look, here's, here's what, here's what coaching is, here's why I think this is a helpful approach. Here's a quick little design designed to lions as a terminal, here's some times, you know, from from different coaching education institutes, but you can do that very quickly. And, you know, in a way that I think, honors, transparency and the ethics of that.

Steve Trapps  21:11  
And it's also not fixed in time, you know, once you've got that designed Alliance, that agreement, it's not there, we that's what we said, when we've never really experienced coaching, you know, what does the people what are the people? What are the person? What does the person need from you as a coach, as a coach, or they're in servant service of that group, that individual? What do you need from me right? Now, I need you to tell me exactly, well, you know, I may not be able to do that. So this is why it's an alliance, you know, what we both can do, but just picking up on what you're talking about the ethics. The ethics is brilliant, but it can also be such a pain in the bum as well. Because it's that, you know, it's always that always be honest, because it just you can't remember the lies that you've told some time. So it's just easier to, to always tell the truth, or to always be honest. Ethics does this thing, the same thing very similar. It's like, I can't do this, because it's going to either bring my professional reputation to question or there's a perceived conflict of interest, I can't do it. Or I'm going to have to stop you there. Because this is now going to put this relationship that we've built the design Alliance around in a bit of a questionable place. And without those ethics, it's like, Whoa, where do you go? How far do you go? Well, that depends on the coach that with ethical having that code of ethics in place?

Leslie Morse  22:30  
Yeah, this is, this is yeah, this is where the merger of the profession or the discipline of kind of professional coaching and being an agilus, right, you could you might serve as a scrum master in the collision of these two worlds, starts getting really complicated in terms of being effective. So I'm sort of merging a couple questions that have come in here through chat, one of which I just answered, by quickly typing, which is, is a scrum master. Always a professional coach is like definitely not, right, as a scrum master, you are going to borrow from and choose to use professional coaching skills at certain times. And if you go study, professional coaching, and really want to you, you're not always a professional coach as an agilus, like making that distinction. So if we think about coaching, and how one of the key aspects of it is that you are agenda lists, well, if you are an agile list or a scrum master, choosing to apply professional coaching skills, you are doing so in service of the macro agenda of agility, right? So deciding, like if someone on a scrum team that you're working with comes to you with a topic that they would like to be coached on that is inherently anti agile, how would you effectively navigate sort of the desire for them to be coached on things that are not in pursuit of that macro agenda around agility or professional Scrum?

Stephanie Ockerman  24:10  
Well, the first thing that comes to mind for me is, right, there's also this level of not making assumptions, right? Like not assuming that it's non agile, it might sound like that on the surface to me, right? But like, that's where one of the coaching skills, one of the most challenging coaching skills that we have to bring in I think it's hard to even call it a coaching skill it is but it's also just a general like skill is self management. So I gotta manage like my brain just went to all these different places. So I've ever self manage that and I gotta go back I gotta stop judging right and making assumptions. And so I guess I would, I would, I would get myself into that place and explore what do you what is really wanted here, right? Because it a lot of and this is true, whether it's saying something may sound not agile on the surface, but or just anything that does sound natural on the surface, a lot of times what people say they want isn't really the underlying want, right? Or it's like what they think the end result is gonna look like. But maybe there's another way to that, right? Like, there's lots of ways that conversation can go. So like, that's my starting place is like getting myself into non judgement, openness, curiosity, like, bring the curiosity and uncover, right, like without judgment without assuming no leading the witness, like the bringing in of all of those skills to like, start unpacking. And then I think from there, you know, then maybe you see what emerges and see what fits right.

Steve Trapps  25:43  
Yeah, I totally agree with this. It's, you've got that self management, and they, and it is so difficult sometimes as well to linking into that self management because you're because of the the experience of being a scrum master. And if you try and piece things together, and you've just got to stop. Otherwise, you're you're not coaching. You're leading you, hey, this is the answer. It's over here, look, just look over here, there. And it's that being that non judgmental, don't make assumptions.

Stephanie Ockerman  26:15  
You know, just to add in there, if there is if that conversation does lead us down a path that this is not really in alignment, right, then Okay, now that we understand we've unpacked it. Now we can name that, right? Like, we can say, like, do we see how this is not in alignment? Right? And, you know, maybe maybe that's like, oh, okay, that's what this person needed to understand. And then now create a new way forward, or maybe there is like a, okay, but this isn't for me. Yeah, that's okay. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So

Leslie Morse  26:49  
that's one of the things I really love about really bringing in a coaching stance, and that neutrality that comes from it, and the pure curiosity, because it is a wonderful vehicle for creating empiricism, right? You built the transparency, that right, this thing that they're really wanting for themselves, maybe it's not in alignment with what we're trying to do here. Um, now that you have that transparency, you can choose to then, like, look at that, and decide what you want to do with it, versus just sort of gloss over it and make it go away. And it sort of becomes this underlying impediment that we're always dealing with sort of, or just that

Stephanie Ockerman  27:29  
person is just always having an issue. They can't say a certain thing, right, or, you know, and that's not helping anything. And just to make it a little bit more tangible, like just some examples that come to my mind of what we're talking about is like, it could be like a team member realizing that they don't want to really be part of this team. And I'm not saying just because they're like, not agile, right? But like, there's lots of things that come into play, you know, there are certain ways people prefer to work, there are certain, they might also just be done. Like, and I've been in situations like that, where there was a lot of assumptions about a person on the team. And it was like, hold up, like, let's, let's, let's work through this, right. And eventually, that person did move to another team. And that involved a lot of coaching with, with the individuals at the team level, you know, in our working sessions together, and you know, aligning around the work we were doing, right, but also with, you know, with that person's manager, and eventually it was like, hey, like, and I don't even think it was about agile or Scrum. I think it was like a ready for something new because I've been working with this technology, this product for many years, right, like, so we don't want to make assumptions. And so like, that's one example. But another could be product specific, right, like a direction we're going with the product, right? And we sometimes he's got, like, realizing like, I don't really think this is the right direction anymore. We're realizing like, we have partial information, or we have biased opinions that are like, taking up more space maybe and because of a power dynamic, right? Like, that's another product specific thing where like, that I that this this conversation we're having reminds me of as well. So it's not only about like, you know, some people think of it as like how people feel and like their mindsets. It's like there's mindset that there are very tangible, working together delivery ways this happens to business strategy, right? Like how many organizations had to deal with like, oh, my gosh, what strategy are we doing? Are we taking our business now? You know, in the last couple of years, so like, just to kind of make this a little bit more tangible. There's lots of different ways this this conversation applies in the real world. Yeah,

Steve Trapps  29:53  
but how brilliant No, from me being incredibly selfish. How brilliant is feat for us. As a coach, I've actually helped that person move on or see something differently or get a different perspective. Because it's not for me, it's not for me, or we're going in the wrong direction. It's okay. So let's explore this what what would the direction you want to be? Well, I want to be in that team over there. Okay? What would that look like? And it's just, you help them grow, you help them reach their potential?

Stephanie Ockerman  30:20  
Yeah. And that conversation, by the way, they might not even know that, it might take months to actually uncover that what's really happening, right, because we don't always know why we're experiencing, you know, like, the resistance or just like whatever made whatever those feelings are inside of us, right. And however, it's showing up in the dynamics of our relationships with our team members like that, that doesn't people don't always know right away.

Leslie Morse  30:47  
That's actually that word resistance is I think, one of those great sort of like, look for the flashing sign, how do you know when you might want to choose to use a coaching stance, when you're experiencing resistance with people, because if people are resisting, like, you could just teach them why you should do it this way. But you're just feeding them more information, right? Or you might mentor them on why it's been successful for you. Or you might facilitate a conversation, but really that experience of resistance, it's like, there's something going on within them that's holding them up, they have to discover for themselves, what's going on. So then they can be open to new ways. And so if the the, the indicator of coaching might work, could be resistance is one of those things you might look for. The way you've both been talking is you're, you're describing, to me at least a little bit of like some of the mindset of being in a coaching stance. And that was one of the questions is like, what is the mindset shift? That happens, or that is needed in order to be effective when coaching and you just kind of put a couple words to that?

Steve Trapps  32:05  
I don't have the answer you're looking for. That's my might not answered your question. But that's kind of like, okay, there's a problem. You've come to me with something that's causing you sleepless nights or discomfort, some resistance, okay? I don't have the answer. But I can, we can explore and we can see what's going here. And it's one of the hardest things I struggled with is, again, I'm a fixer. And this is the journey that I went through, I'm a fixer, I'm a pleaser, and all those kinds of things, are those things that hold me back a little bit. And it's like, I'm so used to actually giving people the answers that they're looking for, as some great sage or whatever, I go, ah, go this way. And it's not actually that's not up to me to give. I'm here to help work in partnership with you. And so the mind shift is moving from that. Here's the solution. Go implement it, too. Okay. Talk to me about this. What does this feel like? What Why are you feeling this word? You want to go with this? Those episodes? It's more of an explorer approach than here's the answer. Away you go. I've given you my magic kind of thing. A little the whole process, but a lot, but that's my my.

Stephanie Ockerman  33:21  
Yeah, I totally agree with that, though. It's like I like the moment like, ideas are popping in my head. And I'm like, but I probably should go in this direction. Like, how do I leave them in that direction? Like, it's like, nope, self management, non judgment. Get into that mindset, right. And it's always hard, right? Because we do have an accountability as a scrum master. And I've talked about this before. And some of like, the many workshops I've done, and I've talked about it a lot. And the coaching program that I that I just wrapped up recently for Scrum Masters is, we are accountable for outcomes that we cannot control. And this is that like balance that we talked about the scrum master role, like, where if your team falls apart when you're not there, because you've been, you know, moving all the parts around and telling people what to do and solving all the problems. And, you know, like, that's not success, right. So like, that also, ultimately means I have to be okay with them and not changing, like, or like not changing the direction I think they should or right like, so it's like, Yes, I'm here to help us effectively deliver reliably, like valuable quality products. And right, like, I also can't control the outcome of that. And so, I actually think that once you accept that and don't it's like a thing you have to, like, accept every day and moments like because it's an old it's a constant thing. It's once you embrace that fact, and are like, Yes, I haven't a tangible end goal here, right? It's ongoing, right? But it's tangible. It's, I can see the results. But I'm here for the people. I'm here for the systems, right? Like, those are the relationships that are here. And so at the end of the day, if we fail to deliver, but I can say that I showed up and everybody here grew because of it, then I can call that a success, right. And also, like, it's not about my, it's not a judgment of my worthiness, if at the end of the day, somebody doesn't want to be coached. And that doesn't make them a bad person, and it doesn't make me a bad coach. So it's like you read like, that's the mindset game, I think it's not like an oh my god there. It's like an ongoing thing, and you're gonna catch yourself spinning and being like, Oh, I messed up, you were gonna mess up when we when we're trying to stay in more of a coaching stance, we're going to realize, because we got reactionary, and we didn't take a moment, or maybe several moments, like, actually observe what's happening before we started moving forward. So you just gotta, you got to own the mistake, right? And clean up any mess and take a new approach. Right. So like that, to me is like the additional like, Get behind what Steve said, it's like that this is the mindset to me that helps me stay in that I don't know the answer. And my answer that I think I know might be wrong, this isn't about

Leslie Morse  36:32  
me. And a belief that the people you are coaching do have the answer, right? That they are creative, resourceful, and whole is one of the like, co opted sort of phrases that you're whether or not you've studied with collective, lots of people use that, like, I must believe that they are capable of figuring this out of themselves. Because if I hold them in any other way, I'm going to continuously sort of project my version of reality onto them.

Steve Trapps  37:03  
You're not helping, you're actually hurting them. Because if you're saying that this is the way for and they won't grow, they won't grow into the full potential of that person. If they've, you know, all through our lives, we're told this is the right answer, you know, because this is you do this, do that. Go to university, you'll get a good job, you'll get a good job, you get a good house, you're not first that's that's the path. Yeah, but it's a totally different world.

Leslie Morse  37:30  
Yeah, this, um, give me the answer thing, right is a classic thing that we face, just like in helping organizations and teams go through Scrum, like, just install it for us. So we can do it, which brings in a little bit of the employee versus maybe contractor or consultant, like the way we are engaging with the organization that we work with. Because sometimes, especially if you're a consultant or a for hire scrum master Agile coach who's using a coaching stance, that the client thinks they're just paying you to give them all the right answers. So using a coaching stance can be hard. So how is it different? When you're an employee of an organization versus a for hire team member? Do you use the coaching stance differently? Or do you approach it in a different way?

Stephanie Ockerman  38:27  
So I will say that I am not an employee of any organization and haven't been for so long. That that that time was before I really dove into the coaching journey. So to be honest, I haven't been in that situation. But what I can say is that I have very specific language in the agreements, and also just in the conversations that I have, when I do engagements with clients. So I do typically come in very much like from that coaching stance, and we talk about what that means. And I talked about my process of like, sure, like, I'm gonna bring it, we're gonna teach you some stuff. Sure, we're going to do facilitation, to like help people you know, make decisions and move through things, but you own your agility journey. I'm here to give you some structures and some some support leveraging skills, but I'm going to mostly be in a coaching stance, and here's what that means. And so that is something that I make very explicit. Yeah, I

Steve Trapps  39:34  
I was just thinking, actually, I was thinking I'm very similar to Stephanie, but from her that whole coaching, but there was a period of time where I was an employee and the coach and that coach, I don't I'm doing this for that coach aspect. And it never actually occurred to me until you asked that question. And actually the fact that was it any different and I can honestly say, No, it wasn't, because I was still me. And I turned up and it was Okay, I'm professional scrum trainer, professional coach, I'm a professional father, where, you know, I'm still me. And I wouldn't be me if I changed the way I approach because at the end of the day, I'm wanting to, to move that organization, that person, that team into a better place might not even get to the end. But does it make a difference I, for me, personally, it didn't make a difference. If I was gay being paid a salary or I was being paid, contractual rate, and you know, who has a job for life. Now, we could all say that we're just passing through organizations.

Stephanie Ockerman  40:40  
See, like, now that as you're talking through that, like, when I think about, I worked for a consulting company, right, and then was at a client. And that's a similar dynamic of like, you know, like, you're managing the you know, that you're an employee of this consulting company, you have a client wanting certain things, there's an agreement, like, above you or around you, that you sort of control or don't control or may have been involved in or not involved in. And I'm relating now that it is like a very similar experience around like, I'm me still. And like, I was, I was going to piss people off, quite frankly, like, you know, around what I felt was best for the teams I was working with, around making sure transparency was there and whatever issues were coming up that like, We're not hiding this, like, whether it was coming from the client side, whether it was coming from the consulting side, right, like, and so I felt like, I was me. And yeah, you can manage those things that on the surface can feel like conflicts of interest, or that can feel scary, you know, to tell the truth, or to stand up for something that, you know, you feel as important. Yeah,

Steve Trapps  41:49  
I think as coming into Word of professional, we have to say what it is because otherwise we come back to ethics, are we doing something wrong? That could impact our profession, either indirectly or directly? Or, you know, a conflict of interest there or not? Yeah, it's that whole word professional. It's, you know, professional scrum professional coaching professional Whistler. It's doing it to that standard doing it to that right level. If not, why? Why are we doing it?

Leslie Morse  42:21  
Yeah, absolutely. It's one of those aspects of kind of doing it ethically. And doing it professionally, we mentioned earlier was that kind of getting consent. And so Jack Brady, and then Michael McCary, are both had sort of related questions around like getting teams to buy into or consent to being coached, whether it be a team or an individual. So one, maybe some quick tips, because we're starting to get short on time, quick tips on helping teams embrace the idea of being coached, as well as if that resistance, like, never goes away, is that going to impact them in the long run.

Steve Trapps  43:03  
You can't coach somebody that doesn't want to be coached. And I witnessed that and seen it. And if they don't want to be coached that every coach, but that's fine, we can still be friends and still talk and we still get on best, or one of the biggest tips is just be yourself. Be that human being and connect with people. And it's through those connections build up that rapport build up that there's nothing scarier than Oh, we've got this coach coming in, and everybody goes, well, I best act totally different. Because I'm being assessed as a coach. It's no just being, you know, we're wanting to build that rapport, just connect on the human level, and then we'll ask some questions. And if people don't want to be coached, that's absolutely fine.

Stephanie Ockerman  43:51  
Yeah, and just to add to that, don't take it personally. You know, like, like, and try not to put any judgment around it to like, beyond not taking it personally, but like, not judging like, well, this person's a good coachee and this person's got some resistance. It's like, no, no, no, like, like, let's take all that away. This person is who they are. And I don't know, their entire internal world, they don't know their their life experiences. So who am I, you know, to judge like, so really, you know, trying to come at it with that neutrality is a word you've used before. But, you know, I think we get all of it, we get up in our heads around like, oh, like, I have to have consent. You know, it's pretty simple, right? Like give a very quick there's a lot of definitions you can use out there around what coaching is, you know, Lesley, I'm sure you're gonna share some links around like, what's from that August put together? And you know, something that I talked about is like, it's a thought provoking and creative process where like, it's about enabling people to make intention. Little choices that align with what's important to them and what they want, right and empowers them to feel like leaders in their own lives, right? Like, those aren't the words you have to use, you can find other words, you know, and make your own, whatever feels good to me, like, that's what this is about. And so when we're doing this, like, let's talk about confidentiality, right? Like, I want to be really clear on that one, and talk about what accountability looks like. Right? So like, what's your preference, right? Like, do you do like in terms of how you want to be held accountable, and that that can sound scary, too. So maybe that's not the word you want to use? But you know, around like, hey, you know, like, I'm gonna ask you, you know, there's times that like, do you want me to hear you? Do you just want like to be heard, right? Or do you want me to help you bottom line things and like, cut to the chase? Like, how are you know, like, what's your preference, and you can have those conversations, you can ask those things up front as kind of part of that formula, establishing a relationship, where you can ask it along the way, right? Like, you might have a very simple consent type of, hey, here's, here's what coaching is, here's, here's the confidentiality of this conversation. Here's the purpose of it, here's how it fits in the wider context of my role as a scrum master, and how I'm showing up in this way for these conversations, and then you can get to know them and their style as they go. And don't be afraid to ask, in fact, I encourage you to ask, when you're wondering, right, versus just like, you know, assuming know, what motivates somebody or their their learning preferences, or you know, how they like to be, you know, if they, if you make a request of them, like making it very clear that you can always say no, like, This isn't me as your boss telling you or a team lead telling you like, you have to do this, right. So being just being really open with like, those types of those types of things. It can start as that simple conversation, and then you layer in more around your agreement to understand how you're going to work with people. And it can look differently for the individuals on the team, because we're all different.

Steve Trapps  47:04  
But I would just echo what Stephanie saying it says stressing the fact that the person you're coaching is always in control, that they don't give you control as the coach that you that, hey, you can do you can stop, you can start you can do whatever, you're in control. We're just having a conversation. Yeah. And at the end of it, we might ask, how do you want to move forward on this? I'm gonna send them an email. I'm gonna go for a drink with my mum and talk about things I'm gonna do. Okay, cool.

Leslie Morse  47:33  
Yeah, I think what you're highlighting here reminds us like, all of these things are the reasons coaching is not the only stance you use. When you are a scrum master, when you're a product owner, when you even have a job title of Agile coach, even if you are called an Agile Coach, you are not always using a coaching stance, there is a giant Mary Poppins bag of an endless set of tools and techniques and skills and stances that you could be drawing on in order to effectively help people in teams solve complex problems.

Steve Trapps  48:08  
Yeah, for example, like there's obviously some stances some skills within scrum master like that, hey, the scrum. The developers don't do the daily scrum anymore. Okay, you could go into a coaching stance as a scrum master and go once a while, you know, and say, Hey, we're playing with playing the game of Scrum, we need to have a daily Scrum or that because this does this, this and this. It's a teaching stance, it's you know, we need to make sure it happens with the manager the process. So I probably wouldn't go into coaching stance, I might afterwards and talk about the why where's the value and all those kinds, but stripe, it's, Hey, we're playing scrum here. We need to make sure this happens. Because otherwise this will happen. Yeah.

Stephanie Ockerman  48:48  
Examples, do you because there's like, I mean, in your experience, you've probably seen at least 10 different reasons. That whole we don't want to do to daily scrum comes up maybe maybe 50. Right. So like, it depends on like, what's driving it? Like, are there other things I'm picking up on? Right? That point me towards like a word, we're feeling resistance right back to that word, maybe it feels like individual resistance? Maybe it feels like there's a funky team dynamic happening here, right? Like I'm sensing an energy right? Or this is a pattern, what's going on, right? And then I might need to go deeper in it, leveraging a more a stronger coaching approach to uncover that right, create transparency surface, what's really going on, so that they can find a way forward. And I might have to bring in a little more teaching, I might have to bring in a little more like, Hey, here's some facilitation skills we can use.

Steve Trapps  49:44  
You might have to bring in some mentoring and going Hey, from my experience, when we did a daily scrum every three days, you know what we missed our sprint goal and you know, I got shouted out a lot. That's the difference between mentoring and coaching is from my experience, do that

Leslie Morse  50:00  
So one of the things so we did a scrum pulse in April, I think, with a couple other PSATs that talked about sort of their own journeys in like, becoming professional coaches and a little bit of how they use professional coaching skills with the people, teams and organizations they serve. But I think one is has come up in a in a variety of the questions. It's like, how do you actually get better at this and what is professional growth look like? Because both of you happen to have trained with the collective Training Institute CTI and the coactive training program. Stephanie, you're also investing in organization and relationship systems coaching, also known as or SC from CRR, global, there's, you know, hundreds of other coach training schools out there. But Coach Training schools are really expensive, really long, you know, journeys like this a significant investment, and not everybody has that financial privilege or time privilege. So if you want to get better at the coaching stance, and you don't have that money and time, what are some of the things you can study? How can you practice? How can you really deepen your own skills, so that you can be effective when using the coaching stance?

Steve Trapps  51:27  
For me, it's I read a lot. Well, I listen to Audible a lot. So lots of the books. So it's just picking up those skills, picking up that knowledge, radical candor, I've just been listening to by Kim Scott's just how they phrase questions and actually have those difficult conversations with people that sometimes we will back off from. There's the actually Michael Bungay, book, habits. Just just there. So just go through this not I don't get any money for it should, but just talking about the different styles. So just get a book, start exploring, start talking to other coaches and see how they've done it. And you know, you don't have to go on a course. Often, it's just reading kicking around the internet.

Stephanie Ockerman  52:14  
Yeah, and actually, that it's the intentional practice, right. So read, listen, I you know, depending on the style of learning, right, you know, use different resources that meet your needs. And then you have to practice. Yes. So, the thing, you know, some people are better than I go away, oh, my God,

Leslie Morse  52:40  
dude, for just a second, you said somebody just practice. And then.

Stephanie Ockerman  52:45  
And then magic happens. Now, if you've got to start intentionally practicing, and that can feel really, really scary. So, you know, one of the things I did, because I went through this journey of professional coaching, and I said the exact same thing, I said, not everybody needs this level, but they need something. And so that led me to create an online course. So it's videos, but the workbooks are the key of like, putting it into practice, you still have to do it, right. Like, you know, nobody's forcing you to do it yourself to be a self directed learner. But what I found is that organizations have kind of bulk purchased some licenses for groups, and they have formed study clubs. Because when you practice something like this, it's helpful to have other people to talk to, that are going through the same lessons. And so you could look in your organization. And, you know, maybe you're reading that book, A Coaching Habit, right, or maybe you're listening to a certain podcast, you know, related to coaching, and, you know, you know, or it could be an online course, video based, right, and then get together frequently and talk about what you're learning, talk about how you're applying it. And also, you could even do some true practice, like form triads and kind of get agreement that like, Hey, we're gonna practice coaching together. I like triads, because we, of course, experienced them through our coach training, it's super helpful to have that observer, you know, kind of watch and be able to provide feedback. You know, and but you all kind of have to be on the same page, right about what you're learning, because, you know, somebody might give you feedback, and it might, and this is actually true all the time, even if you're not learning the same things together, you know, feedback, because feedback, right? Doesn't mean it's right. It doesn't mean it's wrong. That kind of part of the things we learned in coaching along the way. And, you know, but like having some feedback, whether it's, you know, right or wrong, doesn't matter, but like having that feedback is super helpful in the practicing. You're also going to get feedback by the responses of the person you are coaching. So like when you think you're in a coaching stance, notice them right like whether it's with an individual whether you're taking more of a coaching stance in a group, a team type of stuff Adding, like, notice the reactions people are having, what is the responses? What's the energy of it? And so you can still reflect and do this on your own even if you don't have other people doing this with you. But again, do have people try to get at least kind of a regular conversation going, if not go to the extent of trying to do some practice coaching together. Yeah.

Leslie Morse  55:21  
And if you're doing practice coaching, ask that person if it's okay to record the conversation, because the learning you can harvest just by going back and listening to it yourself. And asking some of the questions, you know, Steve, and Stephanie, that you've mentioned today, like, where did I project my own opinion on them? Where did I noticed I was being judgmental, or different things like that, and just getting curious with yourself, you can learn so much from practicing there. I feel like I'd be remiss if I didn't say like, the word coaching is really convoluted in our world, because of the word Agile coach, and of the phrase agile coaching. So you've got to be really discerning and intentional when you choose to study about the coaching stance. Because the coaching stance, right? You the use of professional coaching skills as an agile list is not agile coaching by itself. So if you're reading about things that are about agile coaching, the umbrella term, only pieces of that are really looking at the true coaching stance that we're talking about here today. So you Stephanie, you mentioned your resources and tools and things from the Agile Sox website that you've produced. Like, I would say, like go look at the list of all the coach training providers by the ICF. Those coach training organizations have tons of blog posts and webinars and other sorts of things. Coaches rising is one of the organizations that I find has lots of good digestible small pieces of information or webinar programs that really just dig into pure coaching skills. And and the question is, as an analyst, how are you borrowing that in your practice as a scrum master or product owner or leader of some sort? Any other sort of references or recommendations on that? Because we've got about two minutes and I've got a couple rounds

Steve Trapps  57:23  
over coach, find yourself a coach. It's because I want to become a coach. Okay, so find yourself a coach, and is those people out there offering the services, some of people are doing it for pro bono of free, obviously the same thing, but put it out there, I'm, hey, I'm looking for a coach. And experienced that, and that that's how you can?

Stephanie Ockerman  57:45  
Yeah, we were talking a bit. You know, as we were kind of doing our tech prep for this call about how like, once you actually, it could be either go to training, because really, when you go to coach training, you're being coached, you're watching people be coached, but also just getting a coach, you are going to realize, like, oh, like, this is what coaching feels like. Right? And like, it's hard to put into words. So just experiencing it. I love that, Steve, as is a recommendation of like finding a coach, right? And yeah, I do want to find somebody who actually does know what professional coaching is not just somebody who's calling themselves a coach, like, I want it to be really clear, because there are you know, we've all seen instances, and honestly, we've probably been part of the problem at some point in our career. Before we really started uncovering it, right? It's just a learning journey, right? We all start where we are. But just experiencing it really does click it's like that click happens for you

Steve Trapps  58:43  
know, what your you that know what your client is feeling. Yeah.

Stephanie Ockerman  58:49  
Yeah, and, and I like I wrote, I think I wrote a blog post or maybe it's an email newsletter I sent about, like, if you think coaching is just asking powerful questions. It's not and you can ask what on the surface looks like a powerful question in terms of it's open ended. But you're you're not right. So like, like, start to observe yourself and notice, like those types of things.

Leslie Morse  59:14  
Awesome. Steve and Stephanie, thank you so much for being with me today. And for the stowing your wisdom upon all of our attendees. I greatly greatly appreciate it. I'm going to do a quick screen share, to wrap us up. So it's Stephanie mentioned this earlier, right? Coaching resources for Scrum and Agile practitioners. Right We've got a definition of what coaching is we've got coaching capabilities, links to other resources. I think some of the ones that we uncovered here during our discussion today would be great candidates to add to that page. So Steve and Stephanie, send me some of those and I'll make sure that we get them added and then as always, right tons and tons of resources and options to engage with the coming Unity. We've got our forums connect with us on social, the blog, and then more scrum pulse sessions and other webinars and things on our events calendar. Like I said, attendees, thank you for being here. Steve and Stephanie, thank you so much. I truly appreciate your time today. Yeah, thank you. Awesome. And then the recording for this will be up within the next 24 hours. You'll get an email that that is available and questions that we didn't get to we'll handle in a blog post here over the next week or so. Thank you so much for coming today.


What did you think about this content?