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Dec 2, 2021

The three roles of an Agile Coach, pt. 3: Team Facilitator

n this final episode of our study into Lyssa Adkins’ three roles of the Agile Coach, Agile Coach and trainer Renate Cremer discusses how, at the most personal level, the Team Coach brings out existing solutions within a team.

The Team Coach

“Team facilitation means to coach a specific team, as well as the individuals that make up that team. You learn how each person might grow and develop; how they might best deliver value. You also learn how they feel about their team and within the larger organization.”

“Once you understand where each member of the team is – at a personal level and as a part of the team – you can start looking at how the team functions as a system. Knowing how the team interacts is essential for improving cohesion: seeing where relationships help or hinder processes, finding value ‘bottlenecks,’ and working out the best way to encourage the team to work together more cohesively.”

More than a Scrum Master

Trainer colleague Boris de Jong chimes in: “There is a lot that an Agile Coach at team level has in parallel with the Scrum Master role. You can see that reflected in the ‘Eight stances of a Scrum Master’ article by’s Barry Overeem. A Scrum Master can be an Agile Coach at times. But the SM acts out their role for a single team, and with clearly delineated activities. A team-level Coach is often coaching multiple teams.”

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Before and after team facilitation

Renate continues. “Before Agile Coaching, teams are often caught up in daily practices, getting a task and often trying to find a solution individually. They are eager to work through problems on their own but often fail to look at the connecting system of interdependencies. The team facilitator isn’t going to bring direct solutions to problems: rather, they facilitate the team’s ability to solve its own problems. After coaching, the team has the language, knowledge, and tools to not only work together, but can recognize when and where they need to work together.”

What team facilitation brings to the larger organization

“Any process is only as fast as its slowest component. One team facilitator can coach multiple teams at once, which can improve speed and efficiency across the board. A good Team Coach will know to work with the Enterprise Coaches, Program Coaches, and leadership in order to recognize where help is needed most. Team Facilitators are often given a narrow assignment, but one which often drastically improves the bigger picture; as every time there’s improvement in an individual team, there’s improvement throughout the whole organization.”

Who should focus on the Team Facilitator level?

“A Team Facilitator needs to be a ‘people person’: someone with some knowledge of interpersonal behavior and/or the sociological and psychological side of working people. I personally have a background in Occupational and Organizational Psychology.”

“Team facilitation is really for someone who likes to get into the “nitty gritty” of a single team, who takes the time to get to know each person on that team and what makes them tick. This requires knowing how people behave, excellent listening skills, and the patience to invest time and energy into building trust before seeing results.”

Team Facilitation might seem less glamourous than Enterprise or Program coaching but it is absolutely essential.

The smallest level, but a big impact

“Team Facilitation might seem less glamourous than Enterprise or Program coaching but it is absolutely essential – and the degree of closeness and involvement has its own brand of intensity. Moreover: any higher organization level is ultimately built on several teams working well together. If teams don’t work together on their own, there’s no hope of coordinating well with other teams, let alone of keeping together a cohesive portfolio.”

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Written by Gladwell Academy, We write our own content when trainers and partnering experts don't!