What does our former team of Scrum Masters, now called Agile Coaches, actually do? Colleagues have asked themselves and us this, again and again. In order be more transparent, I have internally shared a series of blog posts that explains our tasks and responsibilities. We decided to also publicly publish these posts. So far, the following posts are available:
How Scrum Masters work as Agile Coaches within the company
Agile Coaches at //SEIBERT/MEDIA – Company-level tasks, part I: Education & training
Agile Coaches at //SEIBERT/MEDIA – Company-level tasks, part II: Recruiting und employer branding
The third major sphere of responsibilities assigned to our Agile Coaches at the company level, is corporate development. This includes many activities which aim to enable //SEIBERT/MEDIA to continue to grow, to continue developing and, above all, to react to changing conditions. This includes aspects of the company’s strategy, but also the design and adaptation of existing processes and structures. Here, many insights and ideas flow from the network events mentioned in the previous post in this series, as well as from exchanges with other companies.
We believe that we actively work on many tasks in the realm of corporate development to create a work environment where we feel comfortable, where we can develop, and with which we remain relevant in the market for a long time. This also involves proactively making changes, instead of waiting until the horse has already bolted.
Supervision and further development of the salary decision process
A current topic in the area of company development, which we have recently dealt with, is the support and further development of the salary decision process. Our activities range from monitoring salaries throughout our organization and within a ‘paycheck circle’ which makes the final decisions about salary ranges, to countless conversations with colleagues and the team answering a wide range of questions about content transparency or salary formulae.
This topic is heavy with discussions, and in the last two months, we have had many long and detailed conversations and meetings.
Development of new office concepts for the efficient use of our office space
As Agile Coaches, we are now dealing with challenges posed by geographical growth to take into account our strong personnel growth. This is accompanied by discussions about which office concept is the right one for us going forward. Our office is bursting at the seams. There are many ideas and approaches that we can take advantage of to use our office space efficiently and attractively. To this end, we are always in consultation with experts and our contacts in other companies to learn from their experiences and to inspire us when we look at our situation.
The new office in the neighboring ESWE Tower, which is just a stone’s throw from the LuisenForum, is the first result from an intensive project within this topic. About 30 colleagues have now moved into the eighth floor with uniformly equipped workplaces, to enable a desk-sharing approach. We have created a little breathing room in the short to medium term. Agile Coaches and many other colleagues will certainly continue to deal with this topic in the long term.
Optimization of the recruiting and on- and off-boarding processes
In the last post, I explained in detail that we consider our employees and our recruiting processes as extremely important for the success of the company as a whole. As a result, our Agile Coaches are continually improving the recruiting process with their colleagues in the Ponyhof team.
Initial results have been seen, for example, in more efficient job interviews, as well as improved on-boarding and off-boarding procedures. On one hand, we have relieved the load on our Ponyhof colleagues. On the other hand, through the integration of the Agile Coaches, we can better convey our values and our corporate culture. Furthermore, structured feedback discussions were adapted for use within the probationary period in order to prevent situations where negative aspects arise shortly before the end of the probationary period, and there is no longer any time to deal with the problems in any meaningful way.
Leadership / mentoring
Leadership and mentoring are two topics that we face daily and with which we are permanently active. We are often confronted with questions like: Who takes responsibility? Who can actually make the decision here? How can I climb the career ladder within //SEIBERT/MEDIA, when there is no structured personnel responsibility and hierarchy?
All of these questions are more or less directly related to leadership and mentoring. We certainly do not have the ultimate answer, but we consistently search for new insights on how much and, above all, what kind of leadership is useful in agile companies like ours. In this context, we attend many related conferences to meet and see what other companies and individuals are doing, and we are currently working on a case study with the RFH Cologne to find answers to these questions.
Revisiting our mentoring concept has been on the agenda for a long time. We try to clearly show mentors and mentees the value and purpose of the mentoring concept, and to support both groups with the responsibilities and the possibilities of mentorship. We’ve taken a few steps forward, for example, with external mentor coaching.
Alternatives to the classical support provided by Scrum Masters
Throughout this series of posts, I’ve repeatedly mentioned that our team simply does not have the capacity to support our 17 teams within the company with individual Scrum Masters. We can hardly maintain a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio!
Of course it is still clear that Scrum Masters are very useful and it is important to continue supporting all teams through classic Scrum Masters. While this is not yet possible, we are looking for different models to deal with the tasks that need to to be done in our teams. With several teams, we have already discussed and evaluated the extent to which team members can take over and cover certain tasks and/or responsibilities themselves, which would normally be assigned to a Scrum Master.
It is not the case where a team member takes over the role himself, but rather they look at their team’s work from a Scrum Master’s point of view, keep the team moving forward, and be proactive in the following aspects: market orientation, processes and methods, team-wide collaboration, team development, people and skills.
We are currently working with kick-off team meetings to find out which people in the team feel responsible for which areas and which responsibilities are not covered. There are no concrete measures so far, but we plan to hold regular discussion in the near future for all employees who assume any of these responsibilities in their teams.
In these discussions we aim to share experiences and work on solutions to problems together. Our Agile Coaches will, of course, continue to support everyone. We simply want to transfer the conscious responsibility for certain areas to the teams. We will soon find out if and how well this works.
Growth and scaling within //SEIBERT/MEDIA
An issue that is really driving us is the growth of //SEIBERT/MEDIA in a variety of areas. Each of us provides support at different levels. We are well on the way to having an environment where product and solution development, based on scaled agile approach models, is clearly in the foreground. But we have not yet fully achieved this. And the growth of human resources is, as I have said, a big issue.
We are concerned not only with the fundamental question of how we are actually going to grow (spatial, personnel, cultural), but we must also explicitly think about which premises are suitable, how we want to furnish them and, above all, which working concepts we want to pursue in the future. Ideas for desk sharing and non-territorial offices are soon to be experimented with in our new office in the ESWE Tower.
As previously touched upon: We Agile Coaches are preoccupied with the question of how we want to grow culturally and which type of culture is actually good, helpful and desirable. Do we need more of a network and less of a family culture? How do we make the values of //SEIBERT/MEDIA more widespread, anchored and lived? Could our prevailing corporate culture hinder us from further growth and development?
These are questions that weigh heavily on us. Of course, they can’t be answered overnight and we are constantly exchanging ideas with other companies. Our first steps have been taken via coffee talks and feedback workshops. A survey covering our current company culture is also planned.
Organization and development of our AgileOrg
The AgileOrg is the key tool in reaching our organizational goals. Every employee– whether they are a trainee or the CEO, whether they are here for two months or ten years already– can put forward ideas and recommendations that improve our organization.
Agile Coaches want to further strengthen the AgileOrg and continue to work on developing the process. In January, an AgileOrg visioning took place, where we along with 30 colleagues identified topics that will help //SEIBERT/MEDIA develop.
We have taken over the organizational aspects and are evaluating the results together with other colleagues. At many conferences and network events, we continue to exchange ideas with a wide range of people interested in AgileOrg to gain ideas and inspiration for further development, so we can implement improvements within our company.
There are also always meetings at a corporate level which we as Agile Coaches moderate and lead. These are often kick-off meetings for AgileOrg stories and the accompanying tasks.
Are you actually doing anything within the teams or is it only about company development? The answer to this question will be provided in the fourth and final article in this series, to follow shortly.
Jobs at //SEIBERT/MEDIA (Applications and site in German)
Agile organization at //SEIBERT/MEDIA – from brainstorming to realization
How Scrum Masters work as Agile Coaches within the company
Agile Coaches at //SEIBERT/MEDIA – Company level tasks: Education & training