Article

What The Heck Is A Tech Coach?

15 March 2017 | Chris Wintle | About a 4 minute read
Tags: coaching, insight, Leadership, management, teaching, tech, tech coach


In a typical software house, agency or consultancy, mentoring, teaching and support will often come from a Tech leadership or management function. The problem with this is that a Tech Lead usually has a lot of other responsibilities, so teaching often becomes a secondary or ‘spare time’ activity.

 

At AND Digital, we believe that learning and development for our ANDis (what we call our people) should be as (if not more) important as every other part of the job (that’s part of the reason why we won the L&D award at this year’s Times 100 Best Small Companies awards). With that in mind, we created our Coaching team, made up of Tech and Agile Coaches (more about Agile Coaches here).

 

Interestingly, if you go search any job sites or LinkedIn for Tech Coaches (or Tech Coach roles), this role doesn’t actually exist. Agile Coaches, sure. Tech Coaches, nope.

 

Isn’t that strange? We’re OK saying that as an industry, our usage of Agile needs support and help – but our application of software development methodologies doesn’t?

 

Naturally, the fact that I am writing this, rather than sitting on the street with a grubby sign reading ‘Will offer technical advice for food’ means that this role does actually exist, but a few people have had to go first!

 

So what is a Tech Coach?

At AND Digital, a Tech Coach is a seriously varied (but incredibly interesting) role. No two days are ever the same, as your week can involve any of the following:

Tech Leadership

An AND Digital Tech Coach is not a Tech Lead in the normal ‘manage a team’ way, but in more of a point of technical advice and guidance for our ANDis and clients. This can be as simple as ‘what framework is a good fit for this problem?’ or could be something more in-depth such as providing Technical Leadership and oversight for a specific client project.

 

Teaching

A big part of the role of a Tech Coach is teaching classes and workshops for our ANDis and clients. This can be anything from running sessions in our AND Digital Bootcamps, or running bespoke courses for clients. This can involve teaching small intimate classes, or larger-group workshops.

 

Insight

Naturally, in order to be able to teach, we need course materials. AND Digital coaches will spend a chunk of their time writing this content. However, it’s not all course content. Our insight work can be writing blog posts, researching a new piece of technology, or even getting your head around a new framework or language.

 

Mentoring & Coaching

While our ANDis will get plenty of mentoring from their Squad Leads, there will often be areas where more technical knowledge is needed. All of our ANDis can call on our Tech Coaches for advice and general catch-ups to help with things like career development, sanity-checking decisions, technical advice or even just a point in the right direction for where to get more information about something.

 

Client Support

An AND Digital Tech Coach doesn’t spend all their time with our ANDis. Our clients also call on us to provide architectural support and technical advice to support the work our ANDis will be doing with actually delivering products. This support can take many forms, from analysing existing architectures and codebases, proposing new designs and improvements, though to getting hands-on with code.

 

That sounds interesting…

It really is (although I am biased).

Software engineering is hard. By admitting that, we can admit that as an industry we sometimes need help and support. A Tech Coach provides that support, by being someone who not only has a large breadth of experience to draw from, but also has the ability to seriously think through problems without having the pressures of project delivery or people management to muddy the waters.

 

We think this role is important and should be more common in this industry. If you agree, we are always hiring!

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