Let’s face it. Business school wasn’t the best preparation for managing a business unit.
For most of us, learning how to effectively lead a team comes from on-the-job training.

Whether you manage two assistants or a large department, coaching your team is a powerful path to success. When a manager puts on her coaching cap, she helps her team develop an effective strategy, practice skills, and score goals to win the game.

Coaching Your Team to Success Question #1

Have you inspired your team with a compelling vision of success?

Within the parameters of core business outcomes that are handed to us, we are charged to be catalysts who inspire performance that will get results. To keep your team motivated, it’s necessary to know what matters to them.

Are you clear about what inspires your team? It may be other things, but here are seven that you can take to the bank (You’ll take other things to the bank if you succeed with these seven!).

1. They want to know the clear, measurable outcomes you expect them to produce.
2. They want to have the materials and tools to do the work right.
3. They want to have the opportunity to use their talents, i.e. what they do best.
4. They want to receive recognition or praise for doing good work (not just in performance reviews but often)
5. They want to know that someone at work cares about them.
6. They want someone to encourage their development.
7. They want the mission/purpose of the company to make them feel their job is important.

Do you have a stated mission and values? When was the last time you spoke to these? Are they a part of your office culture? Could every member of your team explain your mission with ease?

A coach keeps her eye on the big picture and keeps that vision in the forefront for everyone on the team.

Coaching Your Team to Success Question #2

Does each of your team members play the right position?

Have you ever hired someone you thought was just terrific, only to learn that you had made a terrible decision?

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses his research for making good businesses great. He urges us to “get the right people on the bus” and then to “get them in the right seat on the bus.”

Sometimes we have not selected the person with the right values or skills for the job.
Other times we might hire a great person with excellent skills, but not have them in the right position.

Are your team members spending 80% of their day doing what they are best at? If not, it may be time to reassess.

We can be reluctant to take action when an employee is hard working and dedicated. But if he’s not well-suited to the position, it could be time for a change. Perhaps there’s another role for him to play, or it might be time for him to move on.

One frequently used tool for assessing the strengths of your team members is Strengthfinders 2.0 by Tom Rath which includes Gallup’s online assessment. Learn the individual strengths of those on your team, and use this knowledge to strengthen your team.

Coaching Your Team to Success Question #3

Have you identified the skills your team members need to develop?

A great manager empowers members of the team to continuously improve their skills.
Has each person on your team identified their areas of growth? But be careful. Many managers make mistakes here that great managers don’t. They try to shore up or transform the weakness of an employee. Consider skill and knowledge development? Of course. But don’t use training for remedial purposes! Let people build on their strengths and consider providing systems for the talented employee to remedy a weakness. For example, if your best performer is a terrible record-keeper, don’t focus on making him or her a better record-keeper. Let them keep on focusing their efforts on producing the results they produce with ease, and get creative in letting someone who’s organized effortlessly support these performers. It’s a win all around.

As coach, the manager keeps his eye on the skill level of each team member, always attentive to his role as catalyst which has a lot to do with motivating and developing his team.

Coaching Your Team to Success Question #4

Do all team members set SMART goals?

A football coach knows specifically what constitutes a goal and the time by which it must be reached. All energy is directed toward reaching the goal. If you manage a work team, clear goals are key to maintaining focus.

SMART is a commonly used acronym describing goals which are:
Specific – Is it clear?
Measurable – How will you know when you have reached it?
Attainable – It must be a stretch, or it’s uninteresting, but is it doable?
Relevant – Is it in keeping with your mission and values?
Time based- Always have a “date by when” the goal will be reached.

We can mistake intentions or ideas for goals. For example, “This year we’re going to improve customer satisfaction” is not a goal. It may be a great idea, but it’s not a SMART goal. Instead, “We extend our customer support hours to 8:00 p.m. starting October 1, 2010.” might be an appropriate goal for a company that wants to create raving fans.

Goals should always be put in writing. A simple system to review your team’s goals regularly will support you to stay in action.

Coaching Your Team to Success Question #5

Is everyone participating in regular practices?

Great results in any organization rarely come from one-time major feats. Rather, it is the small and steady acts of each day which add up to success at the end of the day.

Is your team practicing its best habits every day? When we become careless or inattentive in one area of our life, we are likely to show up that way in other areas.

Is your team using its time wisely? Is everyone communicating effectively within the office? Are we paying attention to the details and the big picture?

Like running laps or practicing drills, how we demonstrate our skills in our day to day operations will determine how we perform when it’s our chance to score the winning goal with a client.

Coaching Your Team to Success Question #6

Do I give team members regular feedback on their performance?

Warp speed in business creates ever greater challenges that require resilience. The work is never finished. We often experience the scarcity of time. Sometimes we neglect to take the time to give feedback to our team which not only would be useful but is necessary to sustain effective action.

Do you make it a habit to let others know how they’re doing, or do you save it for an annual performance review? Perhaps you’re in a small office, and reviews don’t occur on a regular basis. Now is the time to put a system in place to ensure they do.

Are you looking at all areas of performance, and are they clearly articulated so the team member can win? Is this particular individual contributing the success of others, or merely focusing on their own advancement? Does he demonstrate support for the values of the office?

Whether it’s feedback for making a course correction or to give a pat on the back, professional growth and excellence are dependent upon observation being relayed from the coach to the player.

Our next article will feature the additional 7 questions great managers ask to develop strong and productive teams.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play. For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind: Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit: http://www.ingridmartinelifecoaching.com.

Author's Bio: 

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, immigrated to the US at age eleven, from Germany. Her fascination with human behavior began when she read mythological stories and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. They fired her imagination to understand people. She wanted to solve the puzzle of people losing their enthusiasm for learning, and became an educator. She has a Master’s degree in French Literature and speaks three languages fluently.

Moving into the world of business—first as a consultant, then as an internationally certified executive/team coach with clients in North America, Europe, and Australia—she got interested in unconventional models of learning.

While working as a teacher with inner-city at-risk youth who seemed to hate to learn, she began developing innovative educational models. Certain that a disdain for learning is unnatural, she submits that learning environments must help people—adults in corporate America included—get out of their own way.

Her ability to create rich learning environments was facilitated by non-traditional learning experiences which required her to be “client-centered,” and by her graduate work in psychology and experiential education design. Her intention is to engage you in a learning process that supports exceptional effectiveness at work and transfers to your life beyond work.