Lift Your People to High Performance!

Team coaching is the most sure-fire way to get your team aligned and performing at their peak. When a team is stuck in conflict and politics, it’s unlikely that any member of that team will reach their potential. Conversely, every member’s personal performance benefits from a high-performing team.

team coaching team performance

THE TRADITIONAL business model is to strive to have teams that stay together for years. The assumption was that, by getting to know their jobs and each other, they would perform better. However, just like a dysfunctional family, their “stuff” can get locked into the system and they can spend years going around in circles, holding each other back, and never really reaching their potential as a group or as individuals.

Recognition of the missing potential, and a particular intervention from someone who is both skilled and not part of the system, are key elements required to make a difference.

All that said, an increasingly common issue today is that people don’t stay around for that long. Team members change every few months and the face of an entire team can change within two to three years. In addition, people are expected to be more collaborative, and a lot of work in corporates is being done on a per-project basis. The leader of one project may not be the leader – may not even be part of the team – for the next.

This brings with it a different challenge: people need to be able to band and disband with minimal fuss, and hit the ground running each time.

Either way, team performance has become more valuable than ever.

What are your team performance needs?

There is most often a fair degree of uncertainty and tension when a new leader takes over, or when new members join a team.

It takes time for relationships to form. Often, with even a small change, the team can return to the forming stage (to use Tuckman’s Team Stages model) and has to work its way back through the stages to high performance.

The quicker you can embed new leaders or members, the better.

Often when a team is new, or when there are sensitivities because people take things personally, then we have this problem of too much politeness and not enough honesty.

This is not to say we should give bullies permission to not be polite or sensitive. People’s sensitivities should be acknowledged, but should not be allowed to dominate at the cost of honesty.

Honest, polite, sensitive feedback is crucial for high performance and getting the balance right is a skill that can be learned.

When conflict is high it may be a natural phase while people sort themselves out.

If the conflict continues, it can often be due to team members being more invested in their personal agendas than in the shared goal of the collective.

It can also be an indicator that team members have not managed to recognise, accept and harness their differences and play to each others’ strengths. Teams often get stuck because each member expects everyone else to do things they way they do and nobody wants to budge.

Complacency can arise when a team has been successful doing things a certain way. This can become entrenched and innovation suffers.

Teams can get stuck in this way and not see it, even when everyone else can. A high-performing team has the characteristic of constant challenge and shaking things up.

Every team member needs to consistently challenge other members to operate outside of his or her comfort zone.

If a team is not doing that it’s not standing still, it’s going backwards.

The greatest danger of success is that it gives rise to complacency.

There is a story that after winning a tournament, golfing great Gary Player was on the course the next morning, practising his bunker shots. He, more than most, has demonstrated that greatness doesn’t happen without conscious effort.

A team that wants to sustain high performance needs to know precisely what practices got it there; it needs to define what new practices will keep it there; and it needs to do them.

“Winning all the top 2007 PRISM Awards for PR Excellence was the final exclamation point and validation of the coaching work that Neil had done with me some months earlier – plus my company enjoyed its best year ever in revenue terms.”

Marcus Brewster, CEO, Marcus Brewster Publicity

“I believe in myself more and have more confidence as a direct result of coaching with Neil. I would recommend the process for anyone looking to achieve a similar goal. It’s made a big difference to my life and career.”

Neil Naidoo, Wesbank Auto

“Coaching with Neil has added enormous value in terms of my career as an entrepreneur and consultant. My ability to evaluate opportunities and make good decisions is better than ever—plus I have more time with my family!”

James Martin, Vantage Holdings

“I found the interventions massively beneficial and my level of awareness in particular is at an all time high. The benefits of this and the visible impact on my business and personal life are immense.”

Coll Macdonald, Invent Hospitality

“Coaching with Neil was tough, but it helped me to focus on what I want out of situations and people, at home and at work. Also, to create definable steps towards the lifestyle I desire and the person I aspire to be.”

Dirk Wilson, Entrepreneur

“The impact on my personal and work-life has been amazing. Taking control of what happens to me has changed me from a victim into a successful leader at work and a happier being with success in all areas of my life.”

Marpie Betts

“Stimulating, awakening, cutting to your inner, hidden self. Rewarding, very worthwhile, very necessary. The process is important to experience if you are truly looking to better yourself.”

Athol McLean, Chiropractor

“I attended [the Authentic Success Program] looking for answers to improve my life. I leave knowing that I held the answers all the time, I just have to apply a few simple principles in order to activate them.”

Guy Johnstone, Hotelier

“Neil was brilliant at presenting [the Authentic Success Program] and supported us through the process. I am confident that it will send me on the life path I have been seeking for so long.”

Jeremy Kropman, Engineer

“Even if you think you don’t need ‘authentic success’ you are ready for this program. It will open up a new world of possibility you never knew existed. I would recommend it for anybody looking to improve their life.”

John Mullins, Coach

“The experience opens one’s eyes to the possibility of taking control of one’s future – not being a rudderless ship but rather one that is on course in the sea of life. I’m sure it will make a difference for others too.”

Grant Back, Pilot

My Clients

Team Coaching Solutions

For a light intervention, such as a team-build-with-a-purpose or to embed a new leader or members, I recommend the Team Discovery Day™ (TDD), which was developed specifically to kick-start a team’s journey to high performance.

The program uses the enneagram, a model of personality types, to facilitate understanding of self and others. It also draws on Tuckman’s Team Stages model and Naomi Klein’s Time To Think model. The day ends with individual and team declarations. 

The outcomes of this one-day process are:
+ Clearly understand what a high-performing team looks like and what the benefits are;
+ Define where the current team is, relative to a high-performing team;
+ Clarify individual and team behaviour and what needs to shift to unlock the possibility of high perfomance;
+ Commit to individual and team actions to begin the journey to high performance.

This program is useful for:
+ Team-build programs;
+ Accelerating the integration of a new leader or team members;
+ Settling a project team as quickly as possible.

You don’t want to move a houseful of furniture with a light pickup, and so you wouldn’t expect to resolve major team issues in a single day. Therefore, a two-day offsite workshop is needed if there is more to deal with than a simple one-day team build can handle.

A rule of thumb is that if there is “stuff” to unpack, you need a day to do that, whatever it is. Then you need another day for the coach to play Humpty-Dumpty and put all the pieces back together again so that people can leave feeling empowered and inspired.

An ideal program will weave in the enneagram, a model of personality types, to facilitate understanding of self and others. It will also draw on Tuckman’s Team Stages model and Naomi Klein’s Time To Think model. The process should end with individual and team declarations. 

The outcomes of the two-day offsite are:
+ Clearly understand what a high-performing team looks like and what the benefits are;

+ Define where the current team is, relative to a high-performing team;
+ Unpack any and all issues the team is having and deal with them, or map a path to deal with them;
+ Map a strategic path for the team and/or business (if relevant);
+ Commit to individual and team actions to begin the journey to high performance.

This process is relevant for:
+ Executive-level teams;
+ When the issues are complex and/or strategic and need some unpacking;
+ When there is a high degree of change and complexity;
+ When high levels of conflict and/or other forms of dysfunction keep surfacing within the team. 

There will usually be a lead-in process where the coach spends time with each team member and perhaps even gets input from people around the team. Follow-up interventions may be recommended or required as well, for example:
+ Coaching for the leader;
+ Coaching for one or more team members;
+ Further team sessions to check in, hold accountable, and embed the learning.
A critical success factor is that the leader and all team members must engage in the full process.

Real, sustainable change does not happen as a result of a single event. It requires a series of planned and integrated interventions.

The full integrated process begins with the coach spending time with each team member, and possibly some people around the team. This is to gather the narrative – the story about what’s really going on in the team – which gets fed back to the team anonymously during the two-day offsite workshop (see previous tab).

The two-day offsite will be followed by a series of individual and team coaching sessions. The latter may be expanded into half- or full-day modules to develop particular competencies, based on what emerges during the process. The following are themes that typically arise: making and keeping agreements; conflict management; giving & receiving feedback; developing trust; enabling collaboration; creating a listening environment; developing a coaching style of communicating; building resilience.

The scope of this program, and frequency of interventions, will depend on budget and time availability. To give an indication, a full program will usually last about nine months.

The outcomes of the integrated process are:
+ Complete the transition to high performance;

+ Develop the range of behavioural competencies needed to sustain high performance;
+ Begin to develop a collective leadership style that can devolve the high performance culture into the business;

This process is relevant for:
+ Executive-level teams;
+ Teams that need to operate with a high level of autonomy (eg. the exco or manco in a founder-owned business where the founder is seldom present);
+ Any team totally serious about and 100% committed to developing high performance. 

The journey to high performance is a tough one and the rewards are a direct function of the level of commitment shown by every member of the team. A weak link in participation is likely to reveal exactly the weak link in the team. For example, if the team keeps changing dates, or one member keeps missing sessions, right there is your weak link. The integrated process will reveal any such weak link and the team will be forced to deal with it. 

Team Coaching Outcomes

  • A better understanding of self and others within the team context;

  • Recognition of, and greater willingness to work with, differences in style and temperament;

  • Awareness of one’s own and others’ defensive trigger points and how to work empathically together;

  • Understanding of where the team is in terms of high-performance and what needs to happen to get there;

  • Having addressed the “elephant in the room” and able to deal with any other “sacred cows”;

team performance team coaching

When Is A Team, A Team?

You wouldn’t try to use a screwdriver to loosen the nuts on a car wheel when the tyre is flat. Likewise, a team intervention is not likely to be effective for a workgroup, so there is value in understanding the difference between the two.

team performance team coachingA TEAM is defined by the presence of interdependence and synergy. This can only exist up to a certain size, beyond which there are too many links or contact points to be maintained. People begin to feel left out or unsupported and time gets wasted trying to accommodate everyone.

The general rule of thumb is that a team consists of “seven plus or minus two” members. Some insist that six is the limit.

In addition, there are other factors to consider when deciding whether one is dealing with a team or a workgroup.

Here are some questions you can ask:
Q: Does each member’s performance directly influence the performance of the others?
Q: Is there consensus on a clear common goal?
Q: Are all members equally committed to and accountable for achieving that goal?

For additional perspectives on team performance and the ROI of team coaching, read my blog.