Agile/Scrum coaches should not position themselves in ways that will give them an authoritative/commanding role within an organization, where they coach. If this happens, organizations/people that are being coached will not gain long-lasting learning. The result of such engagement, will be have a ‘quick fix’ at most, but it will not be sustainable. Coaches will be perceived, as “Command and Control” figures, and this will lower their chances of helping an organization to develop, its own, autonomous, independent, self-sustainable Agile practices and Kaizen culture.
If the above is ignored, organizations may expect, at most, short-term improvements that are based on directives, commands and “best practices” (of course, there is no such thing as every practice is conditional), given by coaches.
In his book The Culture Game, Daniel Mezick well describes the do’s and don’ts of an agile coach (Chapter 17). This
philosophy neatly applies to agile coaches that operate as consultants.
How about coaches who are not consultants?
A situation is even more challenging for Agile coaches that are employees of an organization they coach for. Here, coaches may get drafted into activities that are considered as an organizational norm but conflicting with a required coaching stance.
Here is an example of one such a challenge:
Being requested (usually, by line management) to do a performance appraisal on an individual being coached, or provide feedback that would be treated as an input to performance appraisal process of a coachee is a breach of a coach-coachee informal agreement of mutual trust. (This is not to be confused with constructive one-on-one feedback that coaches give to their coachees continuously, as part of daily coaching, training, mentoring and counseling support).
Drafting a coach into a process, formally or informally, where he/she may impact employees’ compensation and career development is a bad decision. This will create a serious conflict of interest for a coach and will adversely impact his/her relationship with a coachee (trust, openness), and therefore, ability to positively influence professional growth of a coachee.
Impartiality and neutrality of a coach is highly important. Only by remaining neutral and non-authoritative, will a coach be able
to help an organization and its employees to self-discover, improve, and become autonomous in their journey to success.
Just like external coaches-consultants, internal coaches should stay away from activities that are considered as anti-coaching patterns.