Team Coaches Wanted

You study sociology or communications, only to do one internship after another? You study psychology, but you are not interested in subsequent vocational training as a therapist? You study pedagogy, but you are not sure you actually want to be a teacher?

We have an alternative for you! It may not look like it at first glance, but soft skills are in fact needed in some rather technical industries, and we are looking for people to fill this vacancy—even in the IT industry.

With the agile approach, which is increasingly becoming the norm in software development projects, the teams work together in a self-organized and independent manner. Self-organization may sound like it is something that works all on its own, but it is in fact a demanding process that requires training. This is why there is a team coach for every team in such projects, and this coach assists the team on their way towards self-organization.

What characterizes a team coach?

Together with their team, they are responsible for achieving the project goal. They ask open-ended questions and give constructive feedback in order to encourage their team and the project environment to continuously question and improve the processes and the collaboration. They gain the respect of their team and the project environment thanks to their methodological knowledge and their dedicated and stringent manner. The team coaches lead the way by example. Their discipline enables them to consider the interests of all the parties involved, including their own, and to explore the best way to motivate and promote the team in the process together with the team. Furthermore, team coaches have great organizational skills.

Their high reliability gives the team the necessary stability during the continuous improvement process, and the confidence to freely develop their full potential. Their conflict management skills allow them to mediate in the everyday conflicts that arise on the path of continuous development. They enable their team to resolve interpersonal or structural conflicts, and offer to act as a mediator if required.

They make appropriate suggestions to help the team establish a framework for themselves in which they can work efficiently and comply with the rules they have imposed on themselves. In all of this, team coaches do not seek to become indispensable, but rather aim to gradually hand the management over to the team itself.

Team coaches are characterized by the following qualities in particular:

  • Responsible, target- and process-oriented
  • Reliable, dedicated and stringent
  • Analytical, empathic and team-oriented
  • Constructive, problem-solving and mediating

What other tasks do team coaches assume?

In addition to chairing meetings, they assist with technical and organizational issues, e.g. if the keyboard is broken, access authorization is required, or a video conference does not work. Furthermore, they help the team to identify and eliminate obstacles in their work process. They know the background of the various roles in the team, and they act as a “translator” between the party setting the requirements (the technical department) and the software developers. For this purpose, they must be able to put themselves in the position of both sides, and to understand, to a certain degree, what each of them is dealing with.

In our company, we usually work together according to the agile “scrum” framework. Our team coaches are called scrum masters. They know the roles, processes and artifacts(1), and they can explain the benefits, values and methods of scrum to the team.

We often work in distributed locations. This is why our scrum masters also ensure that the technical means needed for the distributed communication, such as the video conferencing system, chat, distributed whiteboards, etc., are available and in working order. Their affinity for technology benefits them in this regard. They can always seek advice from other scrum masters or our helpful IT infrastructure department as they look for the best possible technical framework for their team.

In summary, team coaches are responsible for the following tasks:

  • Instructing and enabling their team to implement the scrum framework in a self-organized manner
  • Coaching their team with respect to interpersonal aspects of their collaboration
  • Organizing and solving problems to achieve optimal cooperation within the team, often across distributed locations
  • Acting as the first point of contact in the team for anyone within and outside of the scrum team

Due to the growing interest in agile methods such as scrum, even outside of the IT sector, the demand for scrum masters is strongly increasing. No need to be shy: Soft skills are increasingly sought after in the IT industry! Different professional backgrounds, also outside of computer sciences, enhance our work, and the continuous exchange between different points of view and approaches provides a significant added value for everybody. We, too, come from what appears to be opposite backgrounds: studies in Communications Psychology and Media Informatics. But learning from each other is in fact what enhances our lives every day.


Team coaches wanted!

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