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My first 7 lessons Learned as a Quality Coach 

Emna Ayadi
Mar 11, 2024

Every new start could hide challenges that we’ve never thought about and in my first time as a quality coach, I faced some challenges. In this blog post, I wanted to share with you the summary of the lessons I’ve learned from this experience.

Lesson #1: Manage your agenda

Understand the priorities of the teams you are coaching, don’t lose focus if you have an exploding agenda or everyone is calling you.

Create your own agenda based on the organization priorities and be intellectually and physically available to the teams you are coaching.

Lesson #2: Define the scope of your coaching

Since the beginning, it’s crucial to clarify the scope of your coaching and ensure alignment between management expectations and those of the teams you are coaching, as well as with your own understanding.

In some instances, expectations may vary, leaving you uncertain about the level of detail required to meet both top management’s objectives and the teams’ goals.

Initiate discussions early on to clarify these expectations, and don’t hesitate to challenge them if necessary. If you find discrepancies between what you’ve been asked for and the teams’ understanding of their objectives, it’s important to address them openly and collaboratively.

Lesson #3: Define your role within the Organisation

The Quality coach role is relatively new in many organisations and for some teams, particularly those at varying levels of maturity, the role may not be well understood. Questions such as “Who are you?”, “Why are you here?”, and “What are you doing?” may arise.

To reduce and avoid this kind of confusion, I encourage you to take a step back and raise awareness within the organization about the significance of this role, why it’s defined and discuss potential challenges associated with it.

Note: You can share this role via your communities meetup and newsletter as a starting point, if you don’t have a community it’s also a trigger to create one.

Ultimately, it’s essential to involve them in the process, making them aware of this transformation and how the Quality Coach will support them in transitioning to quality engineering. ( refer to this blog for more details : How Quality Coaches Influence the Transition to Quality Engineering

Lesson #4: Collaborate and synchronize actively with all the change actors

Being a Quality Coach means also you are part of the transformation department where various stakeholders such as agile coaches, DevOps coaches, managers, and HR personnel are involved in the change process.

It’s crucial for all these change agents to collaborate and align towards common objectives. To ensure alignment and prevent duplication of efforts, I recommend organizing biweekly meetings. This will help us stay synchronized and minimize the risk of conflicting actions or redundant initiatives arising from different perspectives.

Lesson #5: Make change visible and be patient it’s not magic!

A common misconception and phrases frequently heard include: “I haven’t seen any improvement,” “we’re still facing the same issues,” and “it’s been one month already, what tangible outcomes have you delivered?”

It’s hard for organizations to accept that change takes time, for that my recommendation for you as a quality coach start small, be patient, acknowledge that change take time and it’s not magical.

Some tips:

  • Take a Photo: Capture the initial status, you can do this through visuals dependent on different categories that you are trying to improve
  • Start small and make progress visible, monitor progress
  • Create a backlog of actions and prioritize using some tags such as (Must, should, could) or any other form that shows the most critical actions first.
  • Don’t add more than 3 improvements actions to your development sprint otherwise the team will lose focus
  • Take another photo every sprint or any other desired frequency and show the baby steps achieved and involve the team, get them aware what else need to be done to reach the big picture
  • Involve your sponsor and get their feedback on what need to be done next in terms of organisation priorities and get that implemented at teams level

Note: by take a photo, I mean a good visualisation of your current status

Lesson #6: Questions become the New Answer

Asking the right questions is as important as answering them, get inspired by open questions and learn how to challenge your team by asking the right question.

I added more details in this blog post Quality Coaching Toolbox, my advice try to structure the order of your questions in a way that help the teams and individuals you are coaching to reflect and raise awareness.

Lesson #7: Understand the maturity of the teams you are coaching

As you begin your coaching journey, be ready to encounter the uniqueness of every individual and team. Expect differences in maturity levels in regards with testing and quality.

Some teams will be very mature, others will be novice in terms of testing.

You need to get that understanding so that you can define what coaching style you need to start with, for less mature teams, you may start with training and mentoring, for more mature teams you may start with facilitating different advanced workshops.

So the conclusion, every quality coaching situation is different and every time you will learn how to address new problems you will encounter.

About the author

Quality Consultant | France
Emna is a passionate Tester. She started her career in IT in 2015 with a focus on Quality Assurance, she got the chance to work on multinational projects combined between Testing and Quality Coaching roles. Currently she works at Sogeti France. Emna is an international speaker and workshop facilitator.

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