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The employment market is volatile, and what works today for job candidates to stay competitive is different from what worked yesterday–especially in an agile world. In the past, having expertise in a technical, functional, or professional domain was the key to rising the ranks of company management. Today, the market is demanding much more of employees, especially future leaders.

Scrum Alliance and the Business Agility Institute (BAI) recently released a joint study, "Skills in the New World of Work, " highlighting a fundamental shift in the marketplace for what hiring managers want in today’s workforce. The report’s key findings state that ‘the new world of work is characterized by several key trends, including the growing significance of human skills, the evolving demand for cross-skilled individuals, and the shift toward skill-based learning…And while the demand for specific roles is in constant flux, one thing is certain: the new world of work is here to stay. And organizations that are successful are those that invest in developing the skills that their employees need.’

The study notes that Skill is not the same as Role. For example, an organization may need managers with coaching skills - but that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs Agile Coaches. It declares that ‘the era of the individual being just a Scrum Master or Agile Coach is over.’ In fact, ‘organizations are looking for multidisciplinary people with complementary skills.’

According to the report, complementary skills like coaching and the ones listed below are in demand. Of the companies surveyed:

  • 62% want communication skills
  • 39% are looking for skills in teamwork and collaboration
  • 29% need problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  • 25% are seeking emotional intelligence and empathy

Research from Chief Learning Officer’s “State of the Industry Report” revealed more than 55 percent of organizations use coaching for leadership development. And 54 percent reported the use of coaching and mentoring to increase in the next 12-18 months.

No matter your current role or whether you intend to pursue a career as an Agile Coach, it’s time to sharpen your coaching skills. Learn what these in-demand skills look like, how they benefit your career, and how to acquire them to help you excel in the New World of Work.

What Does it Mean to Be a Coach?

Coaching is by nature other-focused. It’s a set of soft skills that enables you to help others achieve their goals. The Scrum Alliance and BAI study define coaching skills as:

  • Coaching: Partnering with individuals and teams to help them achieve their goals by providing support, guidance, and accountability.
  • Facilitation: Guide a group of people to achieve a common goal through effective communication, collaboration, and problem-solving.
  • Mentorship: Sharing knowledge, experience, and guidance to help others develop and achieve their goals.

The report asserts that ‘coaching and facilitation are essential skills for helping teams learn, grow, and perform at their best. A strong coach can help a team learn how to work together more effectively and adopt new ways of working to be significantly more productive.’

Continuous improvement is now a priority, not just for the sake of the stock price but also for the people involved. The shift to a new world of work recognizes that team performance involves more than doing more work faster. It means creating a collaborative, safe space where people enjoy their work a little more and feel empowered to speak up when things could be better. It’s often unspoken, but implicit in agility is the notion that someone cares about the health of the team and is actively seeking to remove obstacles and impediments. It might be an Agile Coach, or it might be a ScrumMaster with good coaching skills.

Coaches have excellent listening skills and know how to help others with problem-solving skills and techniques that guide their learning. They remind others of their purpose, make space for people to learn and feel supported, and help them discover their strengths. Great coaches can create a high-performing team where everyone feels a sense of ownership and accomplishment. They’re the cleanup crew, fixing broken processes and serving when no one else will. Coaching is messy — and it’s valuable.

Sharpen Your Coaching Skills to Future-Proof Your Career

According to a Scrum Alliance article about the “Skills in the New World of Work” study, the average US worker changes jobs at least 12 times and changes careers 4 to 7 times along the way. To develop today’s necessary cross-skills or execute a career shift, coaching skills are an essential ingredient for success.

The study found that ‘Agile skills and certifications can lead to higher earning potential for individuals, even outside of traditional agile roles. For agile roles, 55% of organizations will pay higher salaries for individuals with relevant certifications compared to a non-certified counterpart.’

Explore how sharpening coaching skills can make you a standout ScrumMaster, Product Owner, Product and Portfolio Manager, Business Analyst, Developer, or Middle/Senior Manager. Also, learn about training options to hone these skills and pave the way for professional progress.

ScrumMaster

The ScrumMaster often has a dual role, keeping the team’s daily work organized and coaching them in essential scrum skills and playing as a team. At the team level, a ScrumMaster is responsible for the performance of their unit and ensuring they understand Scrum processes and methodology.

With coaching training, a ScrumMaster can level up their collaboration skills and techniques to scale Scrum to the rest of their organization. As any Agile practitioner knows, the real impact of agility is felt throughout the organization when Scrum isn’t only practiced in IT and the product organization but also in leadership, finance, HR, and other shared services divisions. When you can coach these departments on how to work with and support high-performing product organizations (and how to become high-performing themselves!), the value you bring to an employer multiplies exponentially.

As a ScrumMaster, the journey to grow your coaching skills might look like this: Begin with your CSM certification Next, get Team Facilitation and Coaching certifications From there, acquire enterprise coaching certifications Finally, consider advanced scrum certifications like ACSM and CSPSM

Over time, your impact grows from a single team to the entire company. If you’re a ScrumMaster who believes in the power of agility, don’t hesitate to scale your impact — many of our trainers began their careers in the same way!

Product Owner

If you’re a Product Owner (PO), you spend your days with Senior stakeholders and company leadership. You’re demoing products regularly, meeting with customers, and collecting feedback from a diverse group with competing interests. You not only need excellent decision-making skills, but you also need to understand how to quickly create rapport with strangers so you can solicit their ideas and feedback. Coaching skills are essential to growth as a PO and moving from ‘good’ to ‘great.’

As a Product Owner, the journey to grow your coaching skills might look like this: Begin with your CSPO certification Next, get Team Facilitation and Coaching certifications From there, acquire enterprise coaching certifications Finally, consider advanced Product Owner certifications like ACSPO and CSPPO

Product Manager

If you’re a product management professional, you already know how important influence and gaining buy-in from teams is to the operation of your department. At the beginning of your career, you’ll be expected to facilitate key events for agile teams like sprint planning, sprint demos, and reviews. With coaching training in group facilitation, you’ll stand out from your peers. During Backlog Refinement sessions, you’ll need to solicit feedback, influence others, and lead decision-making. Our coaching training courses teach techniques like using agile games to engage teams and spur them to come up with new ideas.

As you grow in your product management career, you’ll work across multiple teams and begin to see the impact of a scaled agile organization. You’ll host large meetings, pitch ideas to product teams and senior stakeholders, and collaborate in PI planning. All these situations require mature, confident facilitation skills.

As a Product Manager, the journey to grow your coaching skills might look like this:

Business Analysts and Portfolio Management

As a BA or Portfolio Manager, you’re uniquely positioned to see organizational challenges, blockers, and process failures. As such, you’re in the best position to be a change agent in the company, with your high-level perspective on how value flows to the customer. However, it can be challenging to influence others and find opportunities to make your voice heard. With coaching skills, you can learn to sell through opportunities to create change for your colleagues in cross-functional roles and find the right moments for change conversations.

Coaches have the skills to sell change internally, as their role is to create these shifts in mindset and ways of working. In your current role, you can see points of failure in other shared services departments like HR and finance. Share your data and insights constructively to positively influence your colleagues and level up in your role.

As a Business Analyst or Portfolio Manager, the journey to grow your coaching skills might look like this:

Developer

As a software developer or IT professional, you can pursue a management or individual contributor (IC) track. As a manager, gaining skills and tools for coaching and developing your team is a no-brainer. When you become a better manager, you can develop your team into leaders themselves. This is not only a benefit to your organization but is also personally fulfilling to see your mentees grow and improve. If you’re already a manager, you know that the technical skills and competencies that made you stand out as an IC don’t necessarily translate into being a good boss. With coaching training, you’ll learn leadership skills and get insights into how to navigate and influence the rest of the organization. Growing your influence and working cross-functionally will allow you to level up as a manager and have a more significant impact on your company’s future.

If you’re pursuing growth as an architect or another senior individual contributor role, consider that you also have to grow your network and work cross-functionally to have the most impact in your role. You’re in a position of influence but not direct control. Coaching and mentoring others will help you grow your collaboration skills and gain greater respect throughout the organization. You are well-poised to be a change agent! You may already know what to do to improve the organization but not how to communicate your message and persuade others. Coaching skills and tools will give you the know-how.

As a Developer, the journey to grow your coaching skills might look like this:

Management

As you move from middle to senior management, you need new language and new ways of working with teams. Great senior leaders are not “bosses” and benefit very little from command and control leadership. Instead of telling your teams what to do, empower them to figure it out for themselves. Remember that as you progress in your career, you can’t be the expert in all the roles that report to you. You don’t need to have all the answers if you can foster passion and excitement for doing the work instead. Hire people who can find the answers for themselves and focus on removing their blockers so they can continue to create value for your department and organization.

With coaching training, you can develop a toolkit for inspiring and motivating your employees. You can also learn to make better decisions, focus your time on the most valuable tasks, and lead meetings with confidence and clarity. Coaching training offers an essential suite of skills for the rising executive.

As a leader, the journey to grow your coaching skills might look like this:

Get Great Coaching Skills Now

Basic coaching skills can be applied in many different ways, and thankfully, both free and paid tools to become a better coach have never been more accessible. We’re in a time of great abundance and challenge in modern business. We have more resources available but also bigger problems to solve. Preparing a new generation of workers for those challenges will require agile coaching skills that create more adaptable, resilient teams.

Free Resources

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an Agile Coach, this blog will help you determine if you’d be a good fit for the role. You can also watch this Lunch & Learn to find out how coaching can accelerate Agile adoption across the enterprise.

Agile Coaching Certifications

Our Agile Facilitation and Coaching certification courses and Enterprise for Agility Bootcamp will give you essential skills and techniques for improving your daily work and collaboration within your team and the broader organization.

Questions? We Can Help.

When you’re ready to move beyond piecemeal resources and take your Agile skills or transformation efforts to the next level, get personalized support from the world’s leaders in agility.