Sometimes the switch for coaches between industries can be daunting. Where do you start? How do you make sure expectations are in sync? So if you haven’t worked with a game team before, here’s a starting point to help you feel ready to go on what I’m sure will be a fun journey!
Listen – Talk to leadership and team members
- What are the challenges and opportunities that they’re seeing?
- What do they need support in?
- Why did they hire you?
Check your own intentions
- Are you working towards your own goal that is not covered by challenges and opportunities that the organization has highlighted? What is that goal? Should you be working towards it? Would the organization really benefit by that goal? If you do have your own goal it’s best to let your stakeholders and the people affected by it, in on it and see what they think. Do they agree and also want to work towards that goal?
- Are you feeling that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things and that this team is choosing the wrong way? It might help to consider that coaching is not evangelism, it’s a partnership. Partner with the leadership and team, so that you are all aligned on the work that you’re coaching them in. Directly communicate what you’re observing to create a balanced partnership. Develop common understanding and agreement with your stakeholders.
Improve situational awareness
The team needs to know where they are in order to find a way to get to where they want to be, help them visualize their current situation and context.
- Facilitate discussions that help the team see different perspectives using e.g. :
- Sometimes it’s as easy as bringing different parties together and giving them a space to discuss their views together.
Do you need to learn more?
Is it important for you to understand the organization in order to help them, or do you just need to facilitate their understanding? Sometimes it feels like we’d be able to coach better if we knew more about the situation, but if by “coach” we mean “come up with solutions for the team” then we’re treading on thin ice. However, if you need more context to ask relevant questions here are some questions to help you get started:
- What do each of the teams in the games team do?
- Which disciplines are represented on the teams? How are they organized? How do team members on the same team interact?
- What kind of work does each team do?
- How do different teams interact with each other?
- What part of the game production cycle is the game in? Are the teams in different parts of the cycle? Is there a generally agreed upon cycle?
- What is the ambition for the quality of this game? Visually, technically? Why has this ambition level been chosen?
- What are the challenges that the teams and leadership feel that they are encountering? Are there other challenges and opportunities that you observed by learning more -> how does the organization feel about those challenges?
- Finally, once you’re empowered with more knowledge, share your visualizations, insights and understanding. Discussing what you’ve learned will help you and the teams gain even more insights.
Books that might help you on your journey:
- Creativity Inc – Pixar’s creative journey
- A Theory of Fun – What goes into game design
- Think Again – Tools for maintaining curiosity to help you navigate the unknown
Good luck, and have fun!
This entry reflects my own personal experience and journey, yours will differ, and you will uncover even better ways of getting started coaching a game team! I would love to hear about your journey!
And yes, if you have a sneaky feeling that this is the same advice you might use for coaching any team, then, yes! Just keep doing what you’ve been doing: start by listening, checking your intentions and improving situational awareness 🙂