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How to Recover Your Coaching Stance

How to Measure ScrumMasters
  • I feel drained of energy
  • I lack motivation to continue working
  • I have to sell changes every time
  • I really want to talk to someone who understands what I'm trying to achieve
  • I feel lonely staring at my Slack screen
  • I feel like I'm on the brink of burnout

If you're an Agile practitioner and can relate to any of these statements, congratulations - you may be on the path to losing what's known as the Coaching Stance. In this post, I want to explain why this happens and what you can do about it.

Why does this happen?

Despite the fact that the Agile Manifesto was created over 20 years ago, it's safe to say that the field of Agile practitioners is still in its infancy. It's similar to the early days of psychotherapists - they understood and accepted each other, but the wider public saw them as charlatans and didn't quite understand what they were doing. Look around - the same thing is happening in most organizations today. And the situation is only complicated by a number of factors:

  • Agile practitioners are hired by employers and face pressure from "I pay you a salary, so I define what it means to be a good Agile coach or Scrum Master."
  • There are no formal criteria for Agile practitioners' expertise: all existing certifications are just an attempt to cover basic skills.
  • There are no clear agreements on the rules of the Agile game - most companies take a fairly cavalier attitude towards what's written in the Scrum Guide and Agile Manifesto.
  • There are many expectations and little empowerment to meet them.
  • Agile practitioners are often expected to "fix" the team - there's even a term for this, Scrum Abuse.
  • The number of colleagues who understand what you do is close to zero.

What does all of this lead to? Here is an incomplete list of possible consequences for an individual:

  • loneliness
  • inability to meet the diversity of implicit expectations
  • distortion of professional identity
  • constant conflict with an environment that denies your values
  • devaluation of you and your work
  • feeling of aimlessness and meaninglessness of your work
  • quasi-schizophrenic states around the situation "I was hired to do what no one wants me to do"
  • and ultimately, professional burnout and a trip to the doctor.

Such a situation leads to tremendous internal pressure and a splitting dilemma of "either I stop being an Agile practitioner so that I stop being torn apart (and turn, for example, into a manager), or I burn out."

How can you help yourself? Here I will list three groups of ideas that will allow you to maintain your Coaching Stance and your health. Instructions for use - try something from the list and see if it helps you. If not, try something else. If it's not enough, add more. Continue until the situation stabilizes. The main thing here is regularity and habit.

Help Yourself

This group includes activities that will improve the foundation of your physical and mental health. In long-established communities of helping professions (such as nurses, psychotherapists, teachers), this is given a lot of time and is considered a mandatory skill.

✨ Sports
✨ Massage
✨ Sauna
✨ Osteopathy
✨ Nutrients
✨ Adaptogens
✨ Meditation
✨ Coaching
✨ Therapy
✨ Reducing screen time
✨ Only devote as much energy to your work as you have right now, not all of yourself (this is not a sprint, it's a marathon)

Find help within your company

This group includes all the activities that you can access within your company.

✨ Have/create a formal coaching contract with the people you are helping (it seems like a separate post should be written on this topic)
✨ Regularly collect feedback on your work - the main thing is that it should not be dry data, but emotional feedback (we work at the level of the neocortex and emotional brain)
✨ Get to know and regularly communicate with other Agile practitioners
✨ Find like-minded people who respond to what you're saying and spend more time with them
✨ Work with those who want/ask for help instead of fighting with those who are against it - you can spend all your time on the latter without any results and you won't have time for the former
✨ Participate/launch an internal Agile movement (meetups, intervisions, gatherings in a bar, presentations, learning modules, training)
✨ Start writing about your Agile thoughts if there are internal social networks (this way you can also find like-minded people - see the above point)

Find help outside of your company

This group includes all activities that you can reach outside of your company.

✨ Books - every book you read will strengthen your foundation of what you do and think in the right direction. At some point, famous Agile practitioners like Lyssa Adkins, Alistair Cockburn, Jeff Patton, Mary Poppendieck, and others will be invisibly supporting you. You can start with these lists, here, or here.
✨ You can also follow famous Agile practitioners on social media (for example, Dave Snowden and Alistair Cockburn actively share their thoughts on LinkedIn).
✨ Watch recordings of international conferences - most of them are freely available on YouTube.
✨ Choose trainings that people say are transformational.
✨ Participate in conferences and meetups.
✨ Become a public figure - write articles and speak at conferences.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive - it is only what I found to be working for me and my clients. I would be happy if you share your own findings on how to maintain your Coaching Stance.

Hugs and strength to all of us!
And that's all for today.

Do more with less and may the force be with you!

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