Combine Individualized Coaching with Team Focus to Transform Business Performance

Team Coaching

Combine Individualized Coaching with Team Focus to Transform Business Performance

We’ve been writing lately on the tremendous business value of having highly effective work teams, and the necessity of improving team dynamics.

But today we want to focus on this point: while working on team dynamics is valuable by itself, the value is greatly amplified when combined with effective personalized coaching of individual team members.

A McKinsey & Company article put it well, “To unlock a team’s abilities, a manager at any level must spend a significant amount of time on two activities: helping the team understand the company’s direction and its implications for team members and coaching for performance.”

The problem is that many managers spend little time on these efforts, often because more immediate priorities take precedence. Yet a little coaching time can go a long way. Personnel Decisions International (now part of Korn Ferry) research found that if a leader dedicates just 5 percent of his or her time to actively coaching and developing, the team and individuals will see a real effect. Of course, more time spent can result in greater impact. A Leadership IQ survey found that benefits peak when managers spend six hours per week with their direct reports, with employees growing more inspired in their work, engaged and innovative. 

Regardless of the amount of time spent on it, coaching and development is most effective when conducted strategically. HR should be heavily involved in working with managers and leaders to deliver maximum impact. Key tasks for HR within this partnership include: 

  • Identify the success profile for the overall team and each role within the team
  • Assess the team and its members against the success profile
  • Use the assessment to bring strengths and gaps to the surface
  • Identify the appropriate experiences, tools, resources, and development programs needed to address the gaps
  • Coach and support managers and leaders as they carry out their coaching roles

That last element is critical. Just because someone is in a managerial or a leadership role doesn’t mean that he or she is an effective coach. HR should help managers and leaders develop the necessary skills to be effective coaches, including providing appropriate resources and tools.

  • HR should also make it clear to managers and leaders what they are responsible for as coaches. These responsibilities should include:
  • Understand the developmental needs of each team member
  • Communicate those needs to the team member
  • Provide the resources and opportunities that will allow the team to grow and develop
  • Share constructive and actionable feedback
  • Hold team members accountable for reaching their developmental objectives

As we close, we’ll call out a mistake to avoid: coaching should not be concentrated largely or solely on low-performing employees. Instead, it should be spread across the entire team. In fact, while many managers find that they spend the majority of their coaching time with employees who are struggling, studies have found that the most significant and long-lasting value of coaching actually comes from developing high-potential and star employees.