I have recently been doing a some work with managers to help them learn how to coach their staff to improve performance. One of the most common topics for coaching was team working. Several managers came up with variations of “I wish I could help so-and-so to be more of a team player.” But few have any idea where to start – other then perhaps providing some team building training. Typically they have started to talk about the need to be more of a team player – but with few positive results.
In helping managers to work out how to coach someone to be a better team player I have found that the first step is to help them to define exactly what behaviours they see (or don’t see) that lead them to draw the inference that so-and-so is not a team-player. I ask them;
“What is it that you see this person do that makes you think they are not a team player?”
This usually releases a whole list of things such as:
- They often interrupt others in meetings
- They often don’t listen to other peoples suggestions
- They say they will do something and then they don’t deliver
- If they don’t get their way then they don’t get behind the decision.
Making this step from a label (poor team player) to a set of behaviours is the essential key to making progress. They can use feedback around specific behaviours to discourage behaviours that aren’t working – and to encourage those that are.
They can develop SMART goals for coaching that will help them to learn new behaviours and habits that are more conducive to team working. We can coach them to behave differently in key team working contexts. An examples of a SMART goal that I have used in coaching people around this topic is:
“Within 6 weeks at least 2 different managers will mention to me your effectiveness in supporting the work of the team.”
Then, by using coaching and feedback to influence specific behaviours it is possible to significantly improve team working within weeks.