As companies navigate the prolonged recession, downsizings and reorganizations have become business as usual and the toll on productivity and worker morale can be catastrophic. How do you continue to drive critical sales efforts that sustain companies and keep people focused on their customers when there is a cloud of fear throughout the enterprise?
We have found our team coaching process to be exceptionally impactful in this environment. A major client company used team coaching to help sales teams focus on mission critical activity leading up to a reorganization of the sales force. This would be one more of many reorganizations that the company has endured over the past four years, and the field professionals were understandably weary and skeptical. Prior to each previous change, the company had observed a noticeable drop in sales during the period leading up the re-org. Enter team coaching.
The primary goal of team coaching was to keep the sales teams focused on the business and minimize the distractions created by the pending changes. Prior to the team coaching program, participants were asked which “skill” was most important for them to develop during the team coaching engagement. Choices included self-reflection, communication, comfort in chaos, collaboration, attitude of ownership, and interdependency. By far, the most common response was “comfort in chaos.” Participants had a driving need to develop the resiliency required to navigate yet another period of uncertainty.
The elements of team coaching provide an ideal environment for dealing with chaos. Working with a coach over a prolonged period of time – a minimum of four months – the team established their own goals and a charter for working together. By establishing their own game plan that was in alignment with corporate mandates, they took ownership of their daily activity and maintained a focus that was internally driven. They developed an “all for one, one for all” mentality that helped to shield them from the distractions created by the pending reorg.
The acronym “c-h-a-o-s” also serves as a guide when working with teams to create their plans. Create, hone, add, organize, and synthesize…this helps team navigate through the collective thinking process needed to create a meaningful direction. In team coaching, it is valuable to have a thematic goal that serves as a foundation for coaching and provides focus. Creating this goal – and what is needed to achieve the goal – can truly be a chaotic exercise but one that generates measurable results for the team and the coaching process.
Team coaching dynamics allow for each member of the team to express their thoughts and concerns in a safe environment. The coach’s role is to listen intently for the “team voice,” facilitate discussion, challenge the team and individuals, and share observations and hunches that prompt discovery. The weekly conference calls allow for an hour of “breathing,” a time for the team to stop, take some time to think and reflect, and remain focused on their goals.
Comments from team members who participated in the team coaching initiative highlight the benefits of sharing best practices, the fun created by the regular team interaction, and the benefits of insights provided by the external coach. When asked to share key take-aways from team coaching, participant comments included “We held each other accountable for the goals we put in place,” “we celebrated our wins together,” and “we are better at sharing best practices.”
The single-minded focus created by the team coaching experience helped the team become “comfortable in the chaos.” By creating their own goals and the strategies and tactics to achieve their business targets, the team minimized distractions taking place in their organization. And the “Coach” played a key role in keeping the team on track and performing at optimal capacity.
|DJ Mitsch, MCC
Darelyn “DJ” Mitsch is the Chief Energy Officer of the Pyramid Resource Group, a Master Certified Coach, and a founding member and former president of the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is a world-class coach and creative partner for innovative leaders and teams. DJ designed this program based on her passion for bringing people fully to life as they change the game of work!