Last September I spent a day with Olaf Lewitz and would like to share my experiences with you. Our relationship started pretty mundane with the question how to spend my personal development budget granted by my employer. For those who do not know me, I am a coding architect with ThoughtWorks, an international IT professional services firm.
In previous years I had visited conferences or bought and (not always) read books. This time I decided to invest in a personal communication training. The choice was driven by different aspects. In the past I had a clear focus on learning about technologies whereas these days I am more interested in the people side of software development, in particular how lead and leverage a team that comprises different personalities. And, last but not least, I had got some feedback from colleagues and co-workers, some of who described my communication style as too rational and analytical, if not at times cold.
So I started looking for a coach by reaching out to my network asking for referrals. The hive mind responded with three recommendations: Olaf, another coach who focusses on business and sports psychology and a third candidate who came across as a classical communication coach. Having talked to all three candidates I found Olaf to be the best cultural fit. Creating “a workplace where we want to belong … using presence, empathy and compassion” pushed the right buttons for me. Before the actual coaching I had a chance to meet Olaf at the German Testing Days in Berlin. Our bonding included a few glasses of whine and musing about the pros and cons of Scrumification.
When we started our journey through the actual day of coaching both of us were a bit uncertain what to expect from the day. It turned out that the day provided all kinds of communication scenarios, such as a showcase with the customer, the daily standup, pairing with another developer, a team retrospective and a meeting to find a solution to a particular technical problem. Throughout the day, Olaf gave me fast feedback about the sessions and we finished the day by talking about my relationship with the team, discussing particular situations from the last 6 months and exchanging tips and tricks about parenting.
Would I do it again? By spending a day with Olaf I have gained valuable insights from an independent and trusted third party. The day both confirmed things I knew about and provided viewpoints and opinions I had been unaware of, so the answer is “yes”.