One of our core values at Qumulo is to be data driven, so let’s start with a slice of data around the general value of coaching: Some studies show that “coaching has significant positive effects on (…) performance/skills, well-being, coping, work attitudes, and goal-directed self-regulation”. Another study shows that “coaching enhanced goal attainment, increased resilience and workplace well-being and reduced depression and stress.”
We care enough about our humans to hire staff, like myself, who are dedicated to improving these, as well as many other, outcomes. Here, we go beyond what’s “good for the company,” it’s about what’s good for our people. We want to help them become better as people, as developers, as team members and to foster an environment of continuous learning, improvement, innovation and psychological safety. Coincidentally, coaching also happens to be excellent for the company as a whole.
In Qumulo engineering, every team member has at least one coach who works directly with them and their team every day. Not the kind of “coach” who’s all up in your business telling you what to do, but the kind who asks questions and seeks to help you deepen your own understanding. Coaches also help you with self-accountability on your self-generated improvement goals.
Coaches create an environment of continuous improvement and so our cultural default is continual feedback on issues like thorny co-worker interactions and what kind of resources might help an engineer improve their technical and team excellence. We partner with engineers to build structures and roles that meet cross-organizational needs, such as mentorship, discovering or spreading best practices, improving infrastructure, lab management, and team self selection. We help engineers find and hone their leadership styles and strengths as well as how to co-lead with peers who have complementary styles and strengths.
Another value we actually live around here is the importance of building a team of people we’re proud to know. Coaches are a key component to that in engineering. This doesn’t mean it’s all group kumbaya all the time; it means it’s safe to have disagreements, to argue your point, to champion the right thing and still to work in close collaboration when finished with conflicts.
In Qumulo engineering we engage in significant self-organizing. Self-organizing may sound fun and easy, but when you self organize, guess what, it’s suddenly all of our jobs to do all those things that might have been done, at other companies, by managers or leads. As coaches, we help everyone who comes into engineering learn the skills and approaches they need to become self-organizing team members who can do anything they put their minds to.
Michaela Hutfles is a sideways E-shaped person (rather than T) with three major depths: agile software development, earth-building and performing arts of all flavors. For almost a decade she’s coached agile thinking and self-management to software developers and keeps teams focused on continuous improvement, growth mindset, and general meta-cognition. She’s building a tiny house on the Olympic Peninsula using clay, straw, and sand.