At Power of Two everyone on our team has a coach. The idea started because our core business is offering online coaching for couples in challenging relationships. We’ve applied the idea to ourselves and found it to be hugely valuable.
An effective coach answers questions that you may not have even thought to ask.
- Review your work product. The purpose of a coach is to advance your understanding beyond what you can do on your own. this only works if they have information beyond what you tell them. A coach should review developer’s code, designer’s designs, writer’s words, a customer developer’s iteration plans and results, etc. A person who gives advice without reviewing your work product is simply a mentor. Mentor’s are helpful, and good for one’s morale, but they are not a coach.
- Have deep respect. The amount your learn from your coach depends on how much expertise they bring to the table and whether or not you value the suggestions they make enough to act on their suggestions. If you don’t act on your coach’s advice then it’s all just a waist of time.
- Pay for the time. When you give your coach work to review you are asking to spend their time for your benefit. This relationship is much simpler and more likely to succeed if there is a balanced exchange of value.
- Ask stupid questions. Your coach works for you. They are there to help you with both complex and things that you might think are stupid. Often it is the questions that initially seem stupid that point to an gap in your knowledge base or skill set.
- Be a bit scared. Your coach’s job is to tear into your work, expose the weaknesses and then help you address them. This is ego-busting stuff. If you aren’t a bit scared about sending work to your coach then it’s time to find a new coach. At the same time, you should feel empowered after addressing the shortcomings that your coach has identified.
Engaging with a good coach will accelerate your learning curve and get you to the top of your game. As an essential tool for success, it is worth trying to ensure that everyone on your team has their own coach.