…..Our problems should be shared

Following on from Work it Make it Do it Make us….. this post relates to the afternoon workshop that I attended at TestBash Brighton 2017, ‘Coaching Skills To Unlock The Potential Tester In Everyone!’ as led by Toby Sinclair and Amy Phillips.


This session was so different to the morning workshop, but equally engaging and fulfilling.

We started in groups around a table, with a spread of pens, post-its, pipe cleaners, so we knew it would be interactive.

Everyone was presented with the agenda for the workshop in a totally different way to any I’d ever seen.

If there was any danger of a post-lunch lull, this soon woke me up and the promise of a visit to the ‘Island of Coffee’ along the way was very exciting.


Amy and Toby presented well together and the idea of coaching (as opposed to mentoring) was introduced to us.

Further reading at Toby’s blog.

After sharing our thoughts on coaching in our groups, a coaching session was demonstrated.

We were always given the time and space to reflect on each section and could discuss and make notes as we went. I went a little post-it crazy.


Toward the end we were able to try out coaching in our groups (at Hot Seat Volcano), where the coachee would briefly introduce us to a scenario form their work and then the other members of the group would take it in turn to ask short questions, then the coachee would write them down (instead of answering, in this instance) to reflect on later.

I even visualised the coaching stance that Toby went through, in my attempts to practically take on-board Huib’s workshop that morning.

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After three rounds of each ‘coach’ in the group of asking questions, the coachee was able to give some feedback, although not specifically answering the questions.

Then, I got a go in the hot seat.

My intro was short, I have a lot going on at work and it can be a juggle, I’m good at identifying where there can be a need for improvement, or a process, or other.

I came away with 15 questions on which to reflect.

  1. Is it self-inflicted?
  2. Have you ever identified a problem and not proposed a solution? If so, how did you feel about it?
  3. What is the difference between my team and the other testers’ teams?
  4. Do you actually feel forced to identify a problem?
  5. Is this a behaviour in all areas of your life, or is this exclusively with testing?
  6. Within the four teams, are there others who could take on these responsibilities?
  7. Do you feel unburdened of a problem, once you’ve resolved it?
  8. Could you describe the team members’ expectations of you?
  9. How do you feel when you don’t have a solution?
  10. How do you feel others (especially team members) feel about what you do?
  11. How do you think you’re helping your teams?
  12. What burdens more, the problem, or finding the solution?
  13. How do you prepare your teams when you go on holiday?
  14. Are there people in comparable positions? How do they deal with it?
  15. Do you take these problems to certain people?

Along with these questions, I came away compelled to think more before offering my advice or opinion and felt challenged to be a better coach in my everyday.

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