Coaching Teams Through Change

By Victoria Pedron – @vghores

My favorite Scrumday session was “Coaching Teams Through Change” by Rachel Davies. Video recording.

At a conference like Scrumday, we find ideas that would be great to apply back at work. However, it is often hard to convince a team to adopt new ways of doing things. Resistance is common in organizations, whether large or small. As Agile coach, Rachel provided advice to overcome the resistance to change. She outlined the difficulties a change agent faces, in chronological order.

Difficulty #1: Resistance
When you propose new practices, you often encounter resistance. Instead of proposing to adopt new practices, just share what you saw and learned during the conference.

Difficulty #2: Skepticism
When you present what you learned, you will likely face skepticism. Instead of arguing about the benefits out of context, take the time to listen and to dig deep. Try to understand the particular context you are in.

Difficulty #3: Context
When you compare what you learned during the conference with your context, you will certainly have to adapt your ideas. Instead of rushing into action, take the time to think about your ideas. Let them mature.

Difficulty #4: Hierarchy
When you want to take action, you will certainly face pressure from the hierarchy. Instead of talking about what is not working and impediments, focus the conversation on the benefits the changes you are introducing will bring to the team and the project.

Difficulty #5: Control
When you implement changes, you will be tempted to take control of everything. Instead, encourage team members to take initiative. Let them decide how to implement the change themselves. It is the best way to get the team’s buy-in.

Difficulty #6: Slow down
When you are in the middle of the action, you may forget to take the time to think. Take the time to pause, from time to time, and gather feedback from stakeholders to ensure you are getting the improvements you intended.

Having recently coached my team to follow agile, I found Rachel’s session very relevant. She perfectly summed up what steps are required for a healthy change management approach. My take-away is that a coach has to be patient and not rush through the steps. Coaching a team is a big time investment, but based on my experience, I guarantee you it is worth it!

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