Coaching – a supportive practice

in Agile, Business Analysis, Consulting, Human Resources, Management, Project Management, Project Management, Scrum

This is the second part of my series on the three pillars of change support: facilitation, coaching and consulting. Although this article can be read as a stand-alone, for those who want a more in-depth understanding, you can find the first part on facilitation here : The three pillars of support: Facilitation, Consulting and Coaching

I specialize in coaching leaders and teams in agile transformations and business process reengineering. These contexts require a structured and strategic approach, aimed at integrating agile practices or redefining processes to improve organizational performance. However, I recognize the specific expertise required for individual coaching and therefore prefer to leave this field to professionals who specialize in this discipline. My practice is therefore focused on supporting transformations at a collective level, where I can bring the most value by facilitating the development of adaptive skills that transcend individuals to reshape the whole organization.


Professional coaching is a structured, collaborative relationship between a coach and an individual or team, aimed at improving performance and achieving defined objectives.

The process

The first step in the coaching engagement is to identify specific objectives together. These objectives are determined through in-depth dialogue and become the core of the coaching relationship. Coaching takes personalized account of the challenges and constraints of the organizational system – including company structure and procedures, as well as less tangible elements such as culture, prevailing habits and past experience – to support the development of effective strategies.

We then examine the available skills and competencies, comparing them with the objectives to determine the necessary areas of development. This analysis also takes into account existing values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Together, we draw up an action plan and implementation tactics, which will be regularly re-evaluated and adjusted according to the progress observed.


A crucial aspect is the active involvement of the individual or team in this process. The coach offers constant support and motivation, but also demands responsibility from the client to maintain the momentum towards the achievement of goals. The relationship of trust is essential to the success of coaching, and is protected by strict confidentiality and respect for ethical standards, guaranteeing a safe environment for clients to fully explore their potential and challenges.

Coaches use a variety of tools and methodologies. Among the most common are systemic coaching, which considers the individual in the context of the whole organizational system, and problem-solving coaching, which equips clients with practical strategies for overcoming obstacles. Strategic questioning techniques, reflective dialogues, positive reinforcement, mapping, metaphors and modeling, and targeted action planning are used to facilitate insights and encourage change.

The success of coaching depends significantly on the client’s proactivity. The customer must be ready to explore and modify deep-seated aspects of their thoughts and behaviours, and to take concrete action towards their goals. The coach guides, inspires and facilitates, but it’s the customer who takes action.

It’s essential to understand that the coach is not the guarantor of the final result. The coach’s responsibility is to provide a framework and support so that the client can progress, but without being able to guarantee absolute success, as many factors external and internal to the client can influence results. Coaching is a partnership in which coach and client work closely together, but real change requires unwavering commitment on the part of the client.

Customer success criteria

The success of coaching for a client depends on their commitment and motivation to evolve and achieve their goals. An ideal client for coaching is one who demonstrates a sincere desire for change, and who is ready to explore and question their own practices, thoughts and behaviors. Commitment translates into active participation in coaching sessions, conscientious implementation of agreed actions and ongoing reflection on what has been learned. To maximize the benefits of coaching, the client must also be transparent and open in his communications with the coach, clearly expressing his needs, doubts and reactions to the various coaching strategies proposed.

Key elements of the coaching process

The coaching process is structured around the clear and precise definition of objectives, which must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). This process begins with an in-depth analysis of the customer’s needs and aspirations, followed by the design of an appropriate strategic action plan. This plan is regularly reviewed and adjusted according to the client’s progress and mutual feedback between coach and client. Process flexibility is essential, enabling methods and approaches to be adapted in response to discoveries made along the way. The success of this approach is strongly influenced by the customer’s ability to implement the actions decided upon and to integrate the learnings into his daily context.

The coach’s role and skills

The coach plays a crucial role not only as a facilitator of change, but also as a trusted partner who guides the client through often complex challenges. In-depth expertise in proven coaching methodologies and the ability to tailor the approach to the customer’s specific needs are essential. The coach must have solid professional experience in problem-solving and coaching. An effective coach must demonstrate patience, empathy and rigor, guaranteeing the building of a trusting relationship in which the client feels secure to explore and overcome his or her limits.

When combined, these elements create an environment conducive to the client’s personal and professional development, making coaching a powerful lever for transformation and fulfillment.

Failure in coaching

I was hired as an agile coach to support an IT development team within a large company, who wanted to make the transition to the Scrum framework. The dozen-strong team not only had to adopt Scrum, but also integrate a suite of new collaboration and development tools, as well as processing engines, automated testing tools and an automated deployment system.

Initial objectives

The objectives, though clear, were extremely ambitious: to completely transform the team’s working methods in the space of a few months, moving from a rigid Waterfall model to an agile, dynamic and interactive environment. This required a profound change in the existing work culture, in particular the “us and them” relationship traditionally maintained between IT developers and the company’s internal customers.


The main challenge was related to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZDP). According to this theory, there is a zone of learning potential that can be reached with the right support. However, the objectives set for the team were well beyond this zone, making learning and adaptation extremely difficult, even with intensive coaching. The team was struggling with the technical aspects of Scrum and the very concept of close collaboration needed between developers and internal customers. The “us versus them” culture was so deeply rooted that any attempt to put collaboration into practice ended in conflict and misunderstanding, exacerbating everyone’s frustration.

Lessons learned

This experience reinforced the importance of calibrating coaching objectives with the teams’ Proximal Development Zone. Failure to assess this area correctly can result in unattainable objectives and superficial implementation of processes. I’ve learned that it’s crucial to build gradually on small but stable successes, to provide constant direction and support, and to cultivate a culture of collaboration before introducing far-reaching technical changes. This experience also strengthened my coaching practice, encouraging me to place greater emphasis on open communication, the gradual implementation of objectives, and above all, the adjustment of ambitions to the realities on the ground.

I hope this exploration of coaching as a support tool has provided you with enriching insights and practical tools to enhance your professional practice. Next week, we continue our series on the three pillars of support for change by delving into the world of consulting. We’ll look at how consultants can effectively manage both processes and outcomes to catalyze change within organizations. Stay tuned for essential strategies that could transform your approach to consulting.

Join us for this fascinating discussion and don’t forget to share your thoughts and experiences of coaching in the comments below or on our platform. Your feedback enriches our community and guides our Course details. See you next week for another foray into the art and science of consulting.

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