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Skip Angel

My initial reactions were: first, be more assertive - “YOU MUST DO THIS!”. When that didn’t work: “I am a failure, perhaps I am not cut out for this”.

Communicating Ideas Several Times, Several Ways

Skip Angel, SolutionsIQ

Originally posted here: http://www.agileiq.org/2009/04/02/the-moment-of-truth-as-a-coach/ and reprinted with permission.

In my job as Scrum coach, there usually comes a time when I transition my Scrum coaching role to an internal person that will continue in this role as the project winds down.  On a recent engagement, the person moving into this new role was struggling with the fact that people weren’t doing what he was suggesting.  He felt ignored or rejected and as a result questioned whether he should be in such a role.  In watching how I coached, he was both confused and surprised by my approach.  Confused because many times I got the same response; surprised because I ended up getting the results I wanted.

“How do you do that?” he asked.

It wasn’t always that way.  I understand how he felt because I have been there.  I felt ignored.  I felt rejected.  My confidence was shaken, and my lack of results over time was showing that others thought I lacked confidence.  My initial reactions were human nature.  First, be more assertive or demanding - “YOU MUST DO THIS!”.  When that didn’t work, my next reaction was “I am a failure, perhaps I am not cut out for this”.  However, deep (and I mean really deep) inside of me I knew that I was to be in a coaching role.  I had moments of success along the way.  It just wasn’t consistent and I didn’t know why.  Then, the moment of truth came…

They are not ready for what I have to say, so I will figure out when and how to say it differently another time.

Instead of feeling I had no control and should probably give up, this gave me something that I did have control over. I flipped the bit from being a victim to being in control.  All of a sudden I had plenty of questions to ask myself and others.  Why are they ignoring what I have to say?  Is now the best time to provide advice?  Am I providing too much information?  Are they having a bad day?  Do they not see the problems I do?  Do they need to experience something painful to learn from it?    I had several options available to me on how to approach the problem. As a result, I started to become more effective in working as a coach.  I learned to listen more and how important the timing of information is.  I became more patient in my approach, and learned that it took several times (and different ways) to communicate ideas before they were received.  I put myself in their shoes and looked at things from their perspective instead of only my own.

This was the moment of truth as a coach, or at least the first one of many to come.  From that point on, my confidence has increased tremendously.  I end up getting most of the results I am looking for, sometimes much better and different results than I had originally thought.  Do I still get discouraged or frustrated?  Sometimes. However, I quickly get over those feelings and remind myself that there is always another day and another opportunity to make an impact.


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