Currently, only about 12% of business teams rate themselves as high performing. That leaves nearly 90% struggling or flat out dysfunctional.
So, if your team is struggling, it is not alone. But it is unique.
Team coaching in business is about building high performance teams by building on the unique strengths, objectives and challenges of the team.
The team as a system
Every team is its own system. It has a past, present and future, and its own strengths, weaknesses, habits, even moods. It has a set of values, a personality and certain attitudes.
All of this contributes to the team culture, which has tremendous impact on team performance.
Individuals within the team
Do individual team members matter? Yes! But individual impact is only part of the picture. While the behaviour of an individual can influence the team as a whole, the influence of the team system on the individual is much greater.
Why is the system so powerful?
It’s often down to unwritten rules. Whether you’re aware of them or not, every team has them. These rules dictate:
- How conflict and challenges are handled;
- How the team perceives customers, competitors, leadership and others within the organization;
- How the team communicates within and outside the team;
- How team leaders manage resources and make decisions.
There can even be ground rules for who you can and can’t talk to. None of these rules are written in your employee handbook or dictated by HR. But they are understood within the team and hold powerful influence over team performance.
Every team is unique
All of these rules, values, moods, personalities, etc. mean that every team truly is unique. So, when it comes to improving a team, what works for one won’t work for all. The team system needs to be fully understood, inside and out, in order to understand how to move forward.
That’s team coaching in business
A team coach first gains clarity on your team system – the values, culture and unwritten rules that drive it, how it interacts with others inside and outside the organization, its strengths, its weaknesses, its opportunities… everything.
Using a cornerstone of team coaching – “what gets measured gets improved” – a business team coach assesses your current situation, identifies the best path forward and works side by side with your team to keep it on the path, course correct as needed, and help build a high performing team that brings the whole organization to the next level.
Any change made, or action taken, within the team will alter the team dynamic. The way team coaching works in a business setting is that it changes with that dynamic.
It isn’t about prescribing a new set of rules and sending you on your way. Instead, this style of business coaching is fluid and works to identify and address opportunities and challenges as they arise. It works to establish new practices that become the norm, and holds the team accountable for change.
Measurement is key. The unwritten rules of your team may not be documented, but their impact on team performance can be.
Positivity AND productivity
The team coaching approach works on these two key elements. Sometimes there is a fear that you have to choose one or the other; that if you create a positive work environment, productivity will suffer.
Both, together, are possible and necessary. Creating a positive team culture drives productivity. Likewise, true productivity – the kind that creates results, not just busyness – contributes to a more positive team culture. We know this because we can measure it.
Strengthening teams by strengthening the people within them
The individuals within your team will always matter. While the team system may have the greater power of influence, that system is ultimately driven and upheld by individuals.
A good team performance coach will also work with the individuals within your team to help them identify their own unique strengths, core values and inner leader, and guide them to bring it all forward in a way that is aligned with the values and objectives of the team.
This is what we mean when we say a team runs “like a well oiled machine.” All the parts together are far more powerful than the individual parts alone, but only when each of those parts is at its best within the system.
Can you benefit from team coaching in business?
Let me ask you…
- How would you rate the competence of your team?
- What is your team tolerating?
- What team strengths are not being used to their fullest?
- What is getting in the way of achieving team objectives?
- What would happen if those things were improved?
- What will happen if you maintain status quo?
If these questions get you thinking – either about the struggles your team is experiencing, or about the exciting possibilities if those struggles are overcome – then you can absolutely benefit from team coaching.
This article first appeared in Entrepreneur.