Vidhya is a senior test engineer in a global product organization which has recently started its agile transformation journey. She has around 5 years of experience and had joined the India centre as a campus hire after completing her degree in electrical engineering.
You are an agile consultant/coach for her team and Vidhya seeks a 1:1 session with you. After a bit of a chit-chat, she expresses her concern about this full-stack engineer concept that the Global Head of Engineering seemed to promote in a talk recently. She wants your advice on her career prospects in the current organization. How would you help Vidhya?
It is easy to fall into the trap of judging Vidhya – ‘hasty’, ‘not confident’, ‘self-doubting’, ‘fearful’, ‘resistant to change’, etc. In order to be able to help Vidhya, the mindset of a coach needs to be non-judgemental and without any pre-conceived notions. If not, coach is likely to ask the wrong kind of questions subconsciously just to confirm his/her pre-conceived ideas.
This is not to say, Vidhya is not ‘fearful’ or ‘self-doubting’ or any of the things I mentioned earlier. Personally, I would not recommend starting with her ‘concern’ about Engineering Head’s talk – that may a red-herring or just the last straw. I believe that the best starting point for a coach is a line of questions that look at the next immediate layer beneath her question on career prospects. Let Vidhya articulate what her career path has been with this organization and what her aspirations are going forward. Let her examine the relationship she has had with the organization so far and what the possibilities for going forward. Her responses would help with the next set of questions.
Overall, the intent of the coach should be to help Vidhya assess alignment between her aspirations and organization’s direction and understand the support structures for career growth. In that context, we should help her explore her concern about full-stack engineer. It is possible that Vidhya needs further conversations with her manager.
Hopefully as a coach, you have helped her gain clarity and a way to figure this out herself.