'Great, you're here! So, this is the issue we're facing. Let's get to work.' It's a pretty familiar opening to any assignment for an Agile coach. And you could do it, of course. But are you sure you're dealing with the right problem? Odds are, you're not. Time to take a step back.
When figuring out how to solve a problem, most of us are focused on two things: behaviour, and its desired outcome – the work. But that means we often skip one of the most important steps of the process: getting to the root of the problem. More often than not, behaviour is influenced by underlying emotions. While charting the territory before you, tap into your business emotional intelligence. Find out not only who you have before you and how they work, but what motivates that behaviour. Help guide the team to self-awareness first, before moving on to self-management and self-performance.
Time Well Spent
Sure, it can be a little daunting to spend the first week of an assignment on something that's invisible, without being able to deliver a tangible result. But if you don't take the time at first, it definitely means spending it later. The symptom you've been treating will keep coming back, or a new symptom arises. You keep having to deal with small problems popping up instead of focusing on your ultimate goal. And that slows down the process considerably.
Make It a Habit
You're probably well aware that it's smart to look for the root cause of behaviour. But to make it a deeply ingrained part of your process, let alone part of the work environment, is a different story. To do that, we should take a page out of Charles Bruhigg's book, 'The Power of Habit.' Every behaviour, he says, starts out as a conscious decision, before becoming a nearly unconscious pattern.
And that also means you can actively create a habit! Look for a behaviour that's already part of your routine and add the desired behaviour. For a coach, that might look like this: you start off each assignment with a round of interviews, based on a list of questions. Make a note on your list of questions as a reminder. 'Don't forget! Emotion - Behaviour - Work'. Go through that list over and over, and ultimately, your little prompt becomes unnecessary. It's become a habit.