No matter how much planning, briefing, training, development and step by step tips and tools I provide to new or existing teams, there comes a point when they need to do real work and experience their very own performance crisis.
It is this experience that brings the deeper learning and ultimately, high performance.
The challenge as a team performance coach is deciding when to intervene and when to stand back and let the process unfold.
Below are two typical team situations I have noticed as common dilemmas:
1: The Perfect Team
There is nothing more satisfying than a team that have the perfect combination of drive, skill and commitment.
Observing these teams discussing and agreeing their Mission and Critical Success Factors (CSFs), reflect upon role clarity, set team goals, create a dashboard and gain traction is theory in practice.
You brief a model, provide a tool and they utilise it with passion.
Give them suggestions and feedback and they listen, apply it and move through the team life cycle with speed.
It can be in the momentum stage for this team that a crisis can occur.
Usually during a team briefing, web or team update, it might be a small altercation between two team members or a rash comment made by an individual or stakeholder who is having an off day.
The impact of the tension can be immediate, devastating and cause anxiety, resentment and possibly team and/or stakeholder disengagement.
This is a team who have never had to spend time truly listening to each other’s and stakeholders deeper and more personal needs.
They have not yet learnt how to put task aside and focus on relationships and their empathic skills have not yet developed. Now is a good time for them to step back from task and invest time reflecting upon team and stakeholder relationships.
Discussing communication preferences, focusing on individual emotional intelligence (EI) and including stakeholder feedback would be time well spent.
Facilitating a team session and utilising a 360 tool at this stage will develop the team relationships, deepen trust and move this team performance to the next level.
2: The Ambivalent Team
These teams are easy to spot from the off.
Usually there is high diversity of personal styles and the team member with the most driving style has taken it upon him/herself to step into the team leadership role.
Other members might not agree but observe and take a passive role whilst feeling frustrated or silently disagreeing with the decisions being taken. Like many difficult relationships, it is hard to spend time with these teams.
The tension is tangible, meetings and briefings are frustrating and much time is wasted going around and around in circles on irrelevant topics.
It can be very tempting to step in as a team coach and reset these teams or feel drawn into getting involved in the content of the team challenge.
However, hold back, observe and let the process unfold. Observe how they apply team resets, discuss topics and lack progress. They most certainly will have conflict, tension and uncomfortable meetings and may fall into the trap of having unnecessary meetings.
But notice that these teams are super resilient and with coaching can become the highest performing teams that build the most creative and innovative solutions.
Their developed resilience is due to the ongoing uncertainty and each member will have spent time self-reflecting and reviewing their and others role.
The tension has forced them to step into the shoes of their team members and stakeholders and they develop strong influencing and communication skills. The challenge for the coach is to observe closely, stepping in if ambivalence is moving to conflict or hostility, as this can derail these teams.
Team coaches have to decide when the time is right for this team to engage in open dialogue, they should facilitate real talk and get the team to discuss their differences re-aligning on purpose.
With coaching, these teams can develop resilient and robust inter-team relationships and fully engaged collaboration with stakeholders which develops deep trust.
This combination will add value to the diversity of views and skills and therefore influence high performance outcomes.
21st century business is challenged by the complexity of solving unknown problems in fast moving, digitalised, global environments.
Our role as Team Alchemy Performance coaches is to support and develop the competencies required to create high performance team results. We do this by combining the robust TA framework with an array of social skills i.e.: Emotional Intelligence.
By enabling the development of exquisite communication skills that develop personal impact, empathy, influencing and networking, we ultimately create teams that have high trust and respect within inter-team and with external stakeholders.
These are competencies that need time and practice, they require self-knowledge and self-confidence and the use of simple feedback tools and techniques can support the process.
It takes patience and sometimes, as the team coach we too might experience their feelings of pressure and tension and notice that we begin pushing the team on task to achieve early results.
Step back - observe and intervene appropriately.
Utilise your knowledge, experience and skill well and pace your teams by helping them process their anxiety. Stop them from just ‘doing stuff’ and get them to reflect on relationships, behaviours and communication.
It is teams that combine robust processes with great social skills that are able to handle change. And in the end, these are the teams that make the biggest leap to gaining high performance team results.
The author of this blog post, Jacqui Craig, is an Team Alchemy facilitator, as well as an accredited executive coach, mentor and facilitator. To read more about here, click here.
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