For ambitious teams, the difference between performance & potential is frequently due to the impact of intangible factors. They might include: the quality of the way team members interact with external stakeholders; levels of commitment & engagement; how well efforts are aligned; dynamics & mind-set. Important as they are, they are frequently absent from the project or business plan.
It is the same for Boards & Departmental teams alike.
Maybe too frequently, organisations adopt ‘hard’ factors (eg reorganisation & re-visiting targets) in favour of exploring the ‘softer’ issues (eg culture, team dynamics). We believe this is a false economy. The most productive course is an integrated approach, tackling both simultaneously.
Performance results from the ways people interact with others such as clients, customers, suppliers & other departments. It is also impacted by the way the way they adapt as circumstances change. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So we look at how the team operates within a ‘system’, exploring the forces, pressures and the actions needed to address them.
We address the team apart as well as the team together.
This approach directly addresses the sources of performance yet it’s likely to face reduced resistance. People and teams are more ready to engage when they see how performance results as much from the way they interact with others as it does their individual capabilities.
Not only is this profound, it is also less threatening. It shifts focus away from sensitive areas such as blame & personality towards collective responsibilities and actions. It helps pave the way & provides clear reasons for exploring underlying forces.
The systems approach starts from the position that the team is where it is for a reason. The question is what (often small, catalytic) changes in interactions – internal & external – are needed to adapt to new circumstances, to grow & improve.
Effective coaching – provided from within the team or by external consultants – is highly correlated with effective team performance(1).
So we underpin our approach with coaching principles. It ensures ownership remains with the leader & their team. It is more likely to be successful when the time comes to discuss underlying issues such as mind-set & leadership.
In practice, one or more of our coach-consultants works alongside the leader & with his or her team. Working together with the right boundaries of confidentiality in place, this group can become significantly more transparent and productive. A richer working enviornment combined with well-considered feedback delivered in a timely manner helps teams evolve & adapt even more swiftly.
Compelling research(2) confirms that an integrated approach is significantly more likely to achieve long-term results.
Strategic support that focuses on the wider system, that adopts coaching principles and is engaged purely for the time of transition…
There is a complex skein of interrelated factors invovled. It demands an input of coaching skills informed by considerable experience and combined with deep understanding of commerce, organisations, behaviour & business process.
An integrated and systems-focused approach is robust and effective. The key to success is the active involvement of the right stakeholders at the right times throughout.
(1) From research by Hackman & Wageman 2002.
(2) McKinsey research; Keller & Price 2011.