Having an executive team coached as a team is a highly leveraged activity for both developing effective leadership and ensuring that an organisation’s culture aligns with its stated Values and Behaviours.
It is highly leveraged because it brings all members into the coaching process, sharing their challenges and progress as leaders, allowing them to have the kinds of conversations that there is never time for, and yet which make a profound difference. Some of those conversations allow for deeper connectedness between team members, for greater creativity in dealing with challenges, for expanded clarity about the organisation’s future, and some for an elevated sense of responsibility for the culture and performance of the organisation. The process also leaves all with a shared language and set of concepts which enhances collaboration. Team coaching is also cost effective compared with multiple coaching contracts.
The alternative to team coaching is having each member of the team choose to opt in or out of coaching which results at best in some of them working by themselves. This approach is often pursued in order to address an individual’s behavioural and/or performance weaknesses or as a reward or benefit. However, the ‘solo’ approach neglects the team dynamic which is a primary contributor to leadership behaviours and has enormous influence over whether there is congruence between the behaviours of leadership team members and the organisation’s stated values and behaviours – whether they ‘walk the talk’.
KPIs – What is the Marker for Success?
Before beginning any team development work an important element that gives the endeavour enormous power is the ownership of the leader of that team. When that person takes 100% ownership, anchored in a willingness to be challenged and grow themselves, the likelihood of successful outcomes from the endeavour increases by at least 50%. The most ineffective way to embark on this kind of work is the ‘come fix my team!’ mindset.
The next step that shores up the success of the work is establishing the commitment of the team members to that success. I do this by working with the team to align around a set of specific and measurable team outcomes, achievements they are seeking as a result of the engagement. These outcomes then form the programme KPIs.
Examples of areas for team outcomes are – reducing churn, growing the business, increasing production/profit/output, effective engagement of stakeholders, driving an accountable culture, strategy implementation etc.. All of these activities require effective teamwork. The more connected to one another and the organisation’s key stakeholders the team is, the more effective they become at driving key business outcomes.
It is also necessary in a team coaching programme that each individual creates their own specific development outcomes. This ensures that everyone is engaged for their own learning and development and provides the opportunity for team members to tackle things they may not be comfortable raising in group sessions. One of the underlying results you want to be aiming for is that the individuals in the team develop a learning mindset, a curiosity about how they can continuously evolve as leaders and as human beings.
Individual and Team Accountability is Critical
An aspect that must be tackled in any team coaching work is accountability. If this matter is not addressed, then any work done will never stick. Accountability needs to be tackled head on and from a very simple start – can each member on the team be counted on to do what they say? My work with teams often starts with their inability to be on time – let alone keeping their word on other matters!
My team coaching process includes the creation of agreements to establish new and effective team behaviours. Those agreements are as powerful as people’s commitment to them and their willingness to be held to account for them. This process tends to reveal a big gap between the client’s declaration of itself through its publicly stated Values and Behaviours and what actually shows up on a day-by-day basis. There is a very big difference between agreeing with the company’s values as a leader and actually doing the work to ensure that one’s behaviour is a living example of who the organisation says it is. Without that level of accountability on the part of the leadership team employees are left jaded and cynical. Their experience is one of two realities – the one espoused on the website, around the office etc., and the one in reality.
The opportunities available in team coaching are truly bound by the imagination of the participants. However, what sounds compelling and desirable often takes more and deeper work than expected. This should be taken into account when assessing whether or not to take on team coaching; don’t expect brilliant team results from a 2-day workshop – that is underestimating the work to be done. Any engagement needs to be structured over at least a 12-month period with frequent team and individual sessions if it is to be sustainable. Habits are hard to break, shifting mindsets takes time and then implementing the shift takes maintaining the intensity of the work.
How to Engage the Right Coaching Company
When searching out a team coaching provider look for people experienced in working with team dynamics, with the gumption to challenge, and with an understanding of what it takes to implement lasting change, not simply those with experience in coaching.
Spend your money wisely. Be wary of the experiential ‘team building’ programmes as whilst they can be enjoyable and feel like they have brought people closer together, they often don’t address the matter of implementation – how does this really translate into how we work back in the workplace? Hence, it can be a ‘we had fun, but…’ experience. The other thing to avoid is the ‘cookie cutter’ provider. Your business and your people are unique – look for someone who can evaluate and customise their offering. Also, a great team coach doesn’t have to already be familiar with your business or industry. If they are accomplished, they will do the right work to understand the context the team is operating in and bring their knowledge of people to the task.
Done right, Leadership Team Coaching is an exciting adventure that produces remarkable results, and is well worth the effort. Contact Hewsons if you wish to explore the possibilities of team coaching.