Business Coaching that focuses on Improving Productivity by Improving Team Relationships

Did you know that Teams are the force that drives most organizations forward?

It really doesn’t matter whether it’s a functional team, a team of managers, or even a project based team, people usually get most done when they work together effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately, when members of a particular team don’t work very well together, their performance and productivity can and usually does suffer. Lets face it, that’s not good for anyone at all.

I have to ask you the question, have you seen hostility, conflicting goals, and unclear or unrealistic expectations within your teams? These are some of the many symptoms of an unhealthy team doomed to failure or at best mediocrity. To help avoid these harmful effects, you really need be vigilant and constantly proactive about improving team performance. This is needed even when a team is meeting its objectives and targets, lets face it there’s often room for massive improvement.

So how can you help guide and support your team improve their results? The first thing is a great business coach who can provide good team coaching (as distinct from individual coaching) to help you take your team to the next level. It’s a valuable activity, and it’s an essential management and leadership toolbox that is often neglected or misunderstood.

Business Coaches and Team Coaching

A business coach that is effective with team coaching helps people understand how to work better with others and understand their role in the team much better. Done well it’s an effective and efficient method for showing teams how to reduce conflict and improve their working relationships. Once this is done the team can get into it and really focus on its real work, and achieve its objectives and do so in harmony.

Your Business Coach should coach you and your team, they should help you focus on interpersonal skills and interactions instead of on just individual development (as you tend to do with individually-focused coaching). The way people act with their teammates and management, and the way they communicate with one another are all important drivers of effective and efficient team performance. Lets face it, you can put a lot of high-performing and powerful individuals on a team and still have serious performance problems because they lack synergy as a team.

In any quality business, people must learn to work together and understand how to relate to one another with the end result of the team in mind otherwise the team’s output will often be less than it could and should be.

To achieve this goal you will need to provide the Business Coach with an opportunity and the knowledge that your team has a well-defined direction as well as the resources, tools and support that’s needed to achieve its goals. If these needs are not met, then you should build a solid team foundation with your business coach before you start coaching for further improved performance.

Business Coaches Understand Team Dynamics

The best place to start team coaching is by investigating and understanding the dynamics of the team. This is process figures out how each of the team members relate to one another and with themselves as an individual and as a component of the team.

Because we are all different it makes sense that we all have different styles of working and communicating, and when we encounter a person with a style that’s different or contrary from our own, we usually get frustrated with that person failing to recognize their unique strengths and weaknesses.
When you consider most teams, some people can be “pushier” than others. A pushy person may think everything is going great – however, their teammates might have a very different perspective altogether.

In some teams if one person walks away from conflict, and then another speaks his mind but doesn’t back down from an argument it can lead to poor decision-making, significant conflict and an unproductive workplace.

We use a variety of personality and behavior assessments that are great tools for improving a team’s understanding of its own dynamics. Using these tools gives each of the team members a better understanding of why they react to their colleagues in certain ways and how to make healthy sustainable changes.

This whole new way of thinking leads to a new understanding that helps them think about how they can relate to one another more effectively and efficiently, at the same time that it breeds tolerance by helping people understand that different approaches may be more valid in different situations in and out of the workplace.

We use a suite of products that are selected especially with the client needs in mind to make sure we have the right tool for the right business.

As a business coach, my role is to make sure my client and I bring team members together to discuss their individual profiles and help them find ways to work together. For example, if Steven knows that Georgia is shy, he’ll have a much better appreciation for why she prefers to do tasks independently. Rather than assume she’s just not interested in working with her, Steven can focus his efforts instead on finding better ways to relate to Georgia on her terms. Likewise, when Georgis realizes that social acceptance is very important to Steven, she can then make a concerted effort to become more friendly and interested in what he’s doing.

Its easily understood that with a greater level of understanding and appreciation of one another, each of the team members will begin to see one another differently. This change in attitude and awareness allows each them to adjust their own behavior for better results with their team mates, and because of those changes they’re able to interpret others’ behavior with more insight and empathy on a consistent basis.

Establish Behavior Expectations

Working hard on understanding other people’s perspectives is a great way to improve business and personal relationships with them. However, all teams still need to follow simple ground rules so they can accomplish their individual and team goals. For example, you may know that a particular person prefers to avoid conflict, however, you can’t really accept that from them if you also expect him to provide honest and expert opinions that may not always match the general consensus and may therefore create a level of healthy conflict.

If is for this very reason that developing a clear set of behavioral and communication expectations within a team is an important aspect of team coaching. These expectations will help to build genuine empathy and understanding for others, and, to ensure that individual preferences aren’t given more importance than team objectives and goals.

A great way to formalize these expectations together is with what we call the Rules of The Game. The Rukes of The Game outlines a clear set of behavior rules that everyone in the team is expected to follow and support. These rules can include treating everyone with respect, offering opinions when needed, and talking directly to the right person when you feel wronged or let down, these are all examples of Rules Of The Game that a team can use to improve its behaviors.

By taking this whole concept one step further, you can easily also define processes for team members to follow to consistently meet the expectations of the team and its members.

One example is to consider a conflict resolution process that would define the steps to take when one team member feels offended by another team member. The process would usually state that the offended person first speaks with the offender and to ensure they have tried to resolve the conflict together before going to a supervisor or manager.

Evaluating Reward and Recognition Systems with Coaching

Unfortunately its common that many people have competing values and attitudes. These differences create a major obstacle to team unity and effectiveness and have to be addressed early and often. It’s not uncommon for most organizations to promote teamwork and harmony, yet still reward individual behavior and results.

When this happens, you will naturally expect problems with those team members who give personal reward a much higher priority and focus than team performance.

With cross-functional teams, we usually find that departmental or business unit loyalties will often get in the way of effective and efficient teamwork. When team members have personal goals that don’t match team goals, this can and will often lead to “secret,” hidden behaviors or agendas, which can be highly destructive to a team and its members. As a team leader and business coach, our role is to look for ways to identify the sources of these competing values and then find ways to fix them so they don’t occur again.

Business Coaching To Support Individual Development

We must at all times be completely supportive of individual development within a team. Most team members may at some time need help to learn or develop new skills so that they can meet and exceed their teams expectations and follow supporting team based processes. Each individual person has a different level of readiness and willingness to take the steps necessary to make changes. As a team coach we have to be sensitive to each of those differences, and to find the resources and tools to support each person’s personal development goals.

This focus is in addition to arranging personalized and individual coaching where possible to support the team and looks for ways in everyday work situations to help coach people to achieve excellence. We give feedback regularly, we help set the individual performance goals, we follow up with training opportunities, and we model great team behaviors ourselves leading by example.

Some Key Points on Team Coaching

Business Coaching to help improve the team performance can often need very different approaches for different teams and different people. What solution that works well for one team may not necessarily work for another. Every team is a separate and unique organism and needs to be treated as such and not given a blanket approach.

Truly effective teams and working relationships are always built by understanding completely the team members’ needs, their preferences, and their styles of work. By coaching and helping people understand their own individual styles and to properly appreciate the different styles of others, we can work with them to change their attitudes and behaviors and then use everyone’s strengths to further develop and bolster the team.

Keep in mind that the process of improving and developing team performance takes some time, and it may even involve looking deeper than team processes into the cause and effect of others that have developed the team to its current stage. Reviewing areas like organizational systems such as those that focus on reward and recognition, their performance management, and developmental as well as skill based training will often need to be addressed during this process as well.

The good news is that the end result of this work is almost always well worth it; your team will then have a much improved collaboration and communication which will benefit the organization and all of whom they come into contact with as a whole.

John Millar

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