From Code to Career: Coaching’s Impact on Tech Teams’ Performance and Career Development

CoachHub · 1 September 2023 · 11 min read

A Coach’s insights on empowering tech professionals to thrive and transform organisations

We are here with Yota Trom, award-winning (CoachHub) coach for leaders and teams in tech and founder of the London-based Community “Together for Tech”. Talking with Daniel Breitwieser, Director Automotive at CoachHub and podcast host of “TransformationUniverse”.

Daniel: Thanks so much for making the time, Yota! Tell us a little bit about yourself: From a software engineer to a professional coach. Give us some highlights of your journey.

Yota: Thanks for having me! My journey began in Greece, where I studied computer science. I started as a software engineer, heavily involved in web development. I later transitioned through various roles like product management, project management, and account management, gaining experience from smaller startups to leadership positions in larger companies. Upon moving to London, I joined Amazon and Yahoo! Accumulating 13 years of experience in the tech industry.

However, despite my love for tech, a health issue a decade ago prompted me to reconsider what success meant for me. This introspection led me to prioritise impact and helping others. While at Amazon, I initially focused on health coaching for two years. Subsequently, I pursued an MSC in positive psychology and coaching. I grew to deeply appreciate coaching’s potential to help individuals recognize their own greatness.

This realisation compelled me to transition away from tech and embrace entrepreneurship, dedicating the past four years to being a full-time business coach.

Daniel: Your journey is truly inspiring. Our coachees have been consistently raving about you, since the early days. Especially your focus on the tech industry has been very powerful to many Coachees.

Yota: Thank you for your kind words. My collaboration with CoachHub and exposure to a diverse range of individuals have helped me in growing my passion for working within the tech industry. Understanding its challenges, dynamics, and pace, I’ve honed my coaching approach to effectively support people within this domain.

People in the tech industry resonate with me. As a coach, I can relate to their challenges and aspirations, making it immensely rewarding to guide them toward growth and self-discovery.

Daniel: Clearly, you’ve found your calling in coaching within the tech realm. Can you elaborate on what draws you to this industry and your desire to support its individuals?

Yota: Certainly. The tech field often attracts introverted personalities, like software engineers who prefer focused work. Additionally, as a woman in tech, I faced challenges in a male-dominated environment, which drove my aspiration to help others navigate similar hurdles.

My own journey—from introversion to embracing my identity as a woman in tech—fuels my desire to assist those who share these experiences. My mission is to show that even within this distinct environment, effective communication and collaboration are attainable.

Collaborating in the tech industry, with its diverse backgrounds and expertise, requires a unique approach. By fostering growth, resilience, and self-awareness, I hope to make the journey for others smoother and more fulfilling.

Daniel: Your passion for aiding individuals in tech is evident. Considering your experience, why should leaders prioritise investing in one-on-one coaching for their tech teams, even those not in leadership positions?

Yota: Indeed, coaching benefits individuals across the spectrum, from newcomers to executives. Investing in people, especially within the tech industry, accelerates both personal growth and company progress. The pandemic further highlighted the need for mental health support in a remote-first setting, which digital coaching provides effectively.

Personalised coaching demonstrates a company’s commitment to its entire workforce, cultivating loyalty and a positive culture. Empowering individuals at all levels promotes an atmosphere of collaboration and growth, aligning with the company’s long-term success.

The concept of empowerment within organisations is often underestimated, particularly regarding the potential for each individual to shape the company culture and foster trust. This empowerment isn’t just symbolic; it’s a force that can drive meaningful change in how employees perceive and engage with their roles. In the realm of tech, this becomes even more crucial due to the constant pursuit of innovation and collaboration.

Now, let’s delve into the realm of talent acquisition and retention, a recurring challenge for tech companies. The quest to secure the best talent involves multifaceted strategies, and it’s a pursuit that requires careful navigation. Amidst the multitude of options available, one vital but often overlooked aspect is the organic advertisement that employees themselves become. When a company shows true commitment by investing in its people through 1:1 coaching for all team members, enabling them to flourish and excel, these individuals naturally become advocates, passionately endorsing the organisation they belong to.

In the fast-paced world of tech, where competition is fierce, the ability to draw in the best talent through such genuine advocacy can be a game-changer.

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Daniel: Let’s explore a unique challenge faced by tech teams: collaboration and interpersonal dynamics. Tech experts, often introverted, must collaborate extensively, pooling their specialised skills. Yet, many hesitate to seek help or voice concerns openly.

Yota: Indeed, the tension between collaboration and the reluctance to seek help is a common struggle in tech. However, recognizing that effective collaboration necessitates the well-being of each individual is crucial. This is where the concept of proactive care and personalised coaching plays a transformative role. By creating an environment that values both individual growth and collective synergy, organisations can harness the full potential of their tech teams.

The positive psychology approach becomes particularly relevant here. Elevating employees’ strengths and facilitating their growth within the context of their roles can lead to remarkable outcomes. The synergy between happiness and performance, backed by robust coaching techniques, can break down barriers, encouraging tech professionals to embrace their strengths and contribute more effectively to the team. No matter if this is during sprints, code reviews or daily standups.

Daniel: Let’s explore the practical application of these concepts in tech teams. Agile methodologies underpin modern tech operations with iterative development and cross-functional collaboration. How do agile coaches, agile practices, and personalised coaching intersect in nurturing tech professionals?

Yota: Agile Coaches play a vital role, though some companies have let them go due to perceived value issues. The dynamic between agile practices and personalised coaching is intriguing. Agile coaches establish team processes and collaboration, but 1:1 coaching fills individual gaps. While agile practices enhance teamwork and project methods, their success relies on personal growth. Individual coaching unveils barriers to translate agile practices into daily behaviour, fortifying collective efforts.

Coaching tailors strengths, challenges, and aspirations, nurturing communication and collaborative problem-solving. Conflict resolution exemplifies this. Agile values swift conflict resolution, yet coaching deepens it by addressing personal triggers, transforming conflicts into growth prospects.

Adaptability and continuous improvement are agile principles extending to individual growth. Regular coaching equips tech pros with tools to refine skills, enhancing personal and team performance. CoachHub’s model, averaging two sessions a month, parallels an agile approach – a personal development two-week sprint logic.

Daniel: How does 1:1 coaching compare to training and workshops for tech teams?

Yota: In the tech world, collaboration with various teams is a necessity, but it’s hindered by personal challenges like confidence and ego. Many tech professionals, introverted in nature, struggle to openly share issues in team settings. I frequently hear concerns from engineers, product managers, and designers.

They seek to address issues like confidence. Personalised coaching provides a safe space for both men and women to tackle challenges such as communication, confidence, or handling feedback.

This safe space is missing when managers get involved due to potential conflicts of interest. 1-on-1 coaching doesn’t have these limitations, fostering deep conversations and effective progress. Certified coaches offer unique guidance through personal challenges that can’t be replicated in a team context.

Both team training and individual support are crucial. Focusing on individuals’ unique needs has a lasting impact while training benefits the whole team.

Daniel: Your insights beautifully underline the synergy between agile methodologies, group formats and personalised coaching. This combination not only enhances tech professionals’ individual capacities but also elevates team cohesiveness and, consequently, project outcomes.

Yota: Precisely, Daniel. It’s a symbiotic relationship that leverages agile practices’ structure and coaching’s personalised attention to bolster tech teams’ performance and well-being. Furthermore, this approach fosters a culture of continuous growth, where each individual’s journey contributes to the collective evolution of the team, and the organisation.

Daniel: What other prevalent challenges do people in the tech industry approach you with regarding coaching?

Yota: I’d like to add a bit about sustaining confidence and address your question. Confidence not only empowers individuals to tackle personal struggles but also gives them the capacity to question processes. While adhering to processes is crucial, often people struggle to envision how they fit in and can question or improve these processes. This ties into Agile methodology—how to challenge existing processes constructively to enhance them.

This is a significant challenge linked to confidence and the concept of fitting into prescribed boxes. Empowering individuals to speak up, challenge processes, and bridge communication gaps is vital. Particularly in tech where each process improvement can mean a significant shift in terms of output. This empowerment has a direct bearing on the quality of project management and methodologies—delivering projects optimally without compromising quality.

By empowering individuals to voice their insights, you improve processes and effectiveness, in line with the essence of Agile—constantly evolving and progressing.

Daniel: Ultimately, it enhances delivery quality.

Yota: Precisely! Project success hinges on optimal delivery while maintaining quality. To achieve this, investing in individuals is crucial. Empowering them to challenge norms, express perspectives, and fuel continuous improvement is paramount.

Conflict resolution is another challenge, rooted in tech community personality traits. Constructively addressing conflicts can yield amazing outcomes. No matter if this is about agreeing on delivery timelines, feature scoping or approaches to code frameworks. Reframing conflicts as chances for progress is pivotal. Coaching guides navigating conflicts, converting them into avenues for enhanced efficiency.

Conflict resolution isn’t about winning but enhancing processes, productivity, and efficiency. Coaching helps uncover conflict triggers, offering insights for growth.

Communication’s role is pivotal. Clear expectations form the foundation of effective communication, fostering collaboration. Here, 1-on-1 coaching thrives. Tailored strategies enable conveying expectations, nurturing understanding.

Feedback, integral to communication, often carries judgement due to poor delivery. This is a big challenge for many people working in tech. Constructive feedback is an art, driving actionable change. Vital for code reviews and product prioritisation.

Coaching individuals, not just managers, ensures constructive feedback’s impact translating to better team performance. Oftentimes product tech teams spent weeks on tasks that could be resolved in days, due to poor feedback and communication issues.

Daniel: Career growth can be murky in tech teams. Identifying future managers and understanding personal career paths are challenges. What’s the current situation in most tech teams regarding strategic career management? Is this an area you address as a coach?

Yota: Definitely. Rapidly scaling tech teams often face cultural and retention issues due to weak company culture. Many clients express frustration over the lack of growth opportunities, uncertain career paths, and a lack of visibility into internal openings. My advice to each coachee who is thinking about quitting is: Before quitting, give me six months to work with you! I’m confident we can make a change. Managers often lack the skills to create effective career growth plans, especially those promoted from technical roles without proper coaching.

Coaching bridges this gap. We help managers manage up, crafting frameworks for successful career growth discussions. In my sessions, I aid individuals in defining career plans, even assigning homework. Empowered by personalised plans, clients often see promotions and pay raises. They upskill, becoming role models that challenge even higher management. This boosts engagement and retention, critical in tech.

Coaching’s impact is profound. It shows the company cares, pairs professionals with experienced coaches, and guides growth. It’s about creating tangible steps, not just talking.

Daniel: Your approach of “Give me six months” really resonates. Career planning isn’t a fleeting thought, it’s a deliberate process.

Yota: Exactly. I witness this every day. So many talented individuals have left incredible companies and opportunities simply because they didn’t know how to navigate. This is particularly relevant for individual contributors who might not be familiar with office politics or leadership roles. They might be exceptional at their coding tasks, but that doesn’t automatically translate into a career. This is why coaching is so important. If a company truly wants to see these individuals step up, they need to provide the support, empower them, and invest in their growth.

This brings us back to your initial question about why I focus on tech. I left the industry once because I lacked the support and guidance. Despite working in top tech companies, I didn’t even know about coaching. If someone had been there for me then, my choices might have been different, or at the very least, I would have been happier with a clearer direction. Coaching allows us to proactively pursue opportunities, to set intentions, rather than passively letting life unfold.

These are the employees that companies need – those who elevate the company, who push it forward, who actively seek growth. It’s empowering to see all these dynamics and have the chance to empower others to take action. It’s about creating a vision for employees, giving them intentionality, and driving the company’s success from the bottom up.

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Daniel: What a fantastic way to conclude our interview, coming full circle and gaining deeper insight into why you focus on tech and how you help individuals take control of their career paths. Thanks again for shedding light on the significance of coaching in these fields. And thank you for being part of the CoachHub story!

Yota: My pleasure. It’s always a pleasure to dive into these discussions and explore the meaningful impact of coaching. Thanks for inviting me to discuss this and bring it to the forefront.

Yota Trom: Coach | Speaker | Founder of Together in Tech
Yota is a software engineer-turned-coach, and the founder of Together in tech, a tech community with over 6000 members. She has worked in tech for over 15 years, leading teams at Amazon and Yahoo before getting her MSc in Applied Positive Psychology & Coaching, and becoming an ICF accredited coach. As a UN Women UK Delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Yota is a powerful advocate for gender diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

Her mission to help people in tech unlock their inner confidence and become inspiring leaders has brought her to work with some of Europe’s biggest tech companies, including Sky, Booking.com, Delivery Hero, Amazon, and Google. She is also a guest lecturer at UCL, and speaks widely about leadership, confidence, imposter syndrome, and women in tech. In 2022 she was awarded with the Leading with Purpose Award from the Reframe Women in Tech Awards.

Yota specialises in building high-performing teams and developing emerging leaders by applying Positive Psychology and Strengths-based Coaching to foster organisational success. Combined with 13+ years of leadership experience holding a variety of senior roles within high-profile companies, such as Amazon and Yahoo, she specialises in working with individuals from the Technology Industry motivating and challenging them to excel both professionally and personally. She is also the founder of the non-profit organisation Together in Tech, a community that champions diversity & inclusion in the tech industry.

Call us on +44 (0) 20 3608 3083 email us (mail@coachhub.com) or contact us below for a demo.


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