Agiles Coaches (ACs) are closely related to the classic Scrum Master. The differentiation of the two isn’t 100% clear and sometimes the terms even get mixed up or are used synonymously.
In contrast to a Scrum Master, who is usually a member of one (or two) software development teams, an Agile Coach is not part of one specific team but works with multiple teams. You can imagine Agile Coaches coming to a team to improve their workflow and support them and then after a couple of months, moving on to another team, or coaching several teams at the same time. One main difference is that the Scrum Master certification is standardized whereas there are no general certifications for Agile Coaches up until now.
If you are an advanced Agile Coach, you not only work together with development teams, but also other departments of the company or the whole organization to help with the transformation to an agile mindset.
Some of the key functions of an Agile Coach are:
In contrast to a Scrum master, an AC puts even more emphasis on coaching agile methodologies to the team. As mentioned above, the coach is not part of the team but an “outside person” who is supposed to have an objective view of the team.
In the beginning, the coach’s main goal is to establish trust within the team to have a good baseline to start from. Helping with that are regular 1-on-1s where members of the team can bring up anything that’s on their mind and relevant to their work. After collecting data via questionnaires, meetings, observations and other methods, the coach should have an idea where the team stands, what works well, where the pain points are and what is needed to bring the team forward.
All Agile Coaches I’ve met so far have a high level of empathy and are great listeners. Active listening is probably one of the most important skills you can bring to the table. The role requires a lot of sensitivity and conflict management skills, as you have to facilitate meetings and have to help the team resolve issues when they arise. Also, you have to be able to build a lot of trust with the team members so they are open to change and improve. A basic sense for data reading and crunching numbers is also a must but those are hard-skills than can be acquired on the job.
As mentioned in the beginning, a lot of companies have the demand for Agile Coaches and if you are already a Project Manager or Scrum Master, the switch is not that huge. There are tons of courses out there. If you want to start with a basic one, I recommend this Udemy Course. Since the demand is so high, some companies even offer positions such as Agile Coach in the making where you can shadow experienced ACs, support product teams and are trained on the job.
One of the services that 9Y offers is to provide dedicated teams to help our clients achieve their goals. These teams are made up of members who fulfil different roles, such as Agile Coaches, Scrum Coaches, Project Managers, Developers, Designers, QA (quality assurance and software testing), to mention a few.
An advantage to work with experienced teams is that they have years of sweat and tears behind them ensuring that projects are delivered on time, on budget and meet agreed-upon performance criteria with the provided team members.
If this has sparked your interest check out more details here, or reach out to us via the contact form below!