Have you ever wondered why sport teams have a coach, yet business or leadership teams don’t?

Team Coaches are not just for sports. And there are some cool parallels from coaching sports teams to coaching business team’s worth exploring.

For many sport organizations there are three basic objectives.

  1. Safety
  2. Higher Performance
  3. Growth and Enjoyment.

It is easy to think about how a sports coach can work with a team to ensure safe play and to develop the athletes for higher performance. The coach ensures that there are both competition and fun, while learning life skills such as leadership, teamwork, wining and losing with grace, to support their growth.

We can apply the same three objectives to a leadership team (Executive Boards, Committees, Cross Functional business teams, department teams etc.) and the relevance for a Team Performance Coach.

  1. Safety. This is not just about the physical safety, but the psychological safety.  Amy Edmondson from Harvard School of Business discusses the concept of “teaming” and psychological safety within teams. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html

In teams, people need to feel safe enough to speak up, provide feedback, and hear feedback.  How many times have you been in a meeting and not spoken up, said what you were thinking or challenged someone on their idea?  Or, perhaps you are on a team where you are being told to take risks, yet failure is not an option.  Creating a safe environment to fail fast and learn faster can be a huge challenge for organizations. Team Performance Coaching can bring these cultural norms to light and support teams to change.

  1. Higher Performance. We all want to be considered high performing teams at work, however we need to get better.  Here are a few stats on the amount of time wasted at meetings from the Globe and Mail, 2016 (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/workplace-award/how-much-time-are-you-wasting-on-pointless-meetings/article32129820/)
  • 45% of attendees feel overwhelmed by all meetings
  • 73% do other work in meetings
  • The salary cost for unnecessary meetings in the US is estimated at $37 billion a year. (I have read even higher stats!)

For volunteer boards (which is how most, if not all, sports organizations operate), take this opportunity to ask yourself, how effective are your meetings….really?  What is your decision-making process? Is it the right process or just what you always do? What if it doesn’t work, then what do you do? How about that formal agenda? A “by the book” agenda, can decrease productivity by 80%, yet no agenda may not be the answer either.  (https://www.cornerstonedynamics.com/meeting-stats-that-may-surprise-you/) .

My favourite is the “update” meeting. An hour of updating each other on what you have been working on, yet not collaboration, innovation or tapping into the brilliant minds around the table.  Send me an email!  Or what about the meetings where there may be 12 people around the table, but only 2-4 people do the actual talking.  Amy Edmondson discusses the greater need of ‘inter-dependency” within a team. “Being able to coordinate and collaborate with a group of people with slightly different skills sets is a requirement to get more things done in this fast pace environment and be flexible to shift along with the changing environment.  Teamwork has never been more important than it is now”, she states. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gh84tUZ-0s&feature=youtu.be).  

Raising awareness of some of the very subtle patterns and habits of teams and how they communicate, work together or dysfunction together is what a Team Performance Coach can bring to the group in a safe environment.

  1. Growth and Enjoyment. In the HBR article “Stop the Meeting Madness”, the author (https://hbr.org/2017/07/stop-the-meeting-madness) describes the growth and enjoyment of meetings in interviews they conducted through quotes ….“I cannot get my head above water to breathe during the week.  Another described stabbing her leg with a pencil to stop from screaming during a particularly torturous staff meeting.”  It reminds me of the athlete who plays for the love of the game, yet the pressure to compete from a well-meaning parent takes all the enjoyment out of the game. Their constant criticizing drives their child to quit.    This article indicates that “that dysfunctional meeting behaviors (including wandering off topic, complaining, and criticizing) were associated with lower levels of market share, innovation, and employment stability”.

Working with a Team Performance Coach can help to turn these statistics around.

Changing the way you approach and view your meetings through a methodical approach can help to change that.  “Employees perceived significant improvements in team collaboration (a 42% increase), psychological safety to speak up and express opinions (a 32% increase), and team performance (a 28% increase). Other aspects of organizational life improved as well, and respondents’ ratings of satisfaction with work/life balance rose from 62% to 92%.”(https://hbr.org/2017/07/stop-the-meeting-madness)

The brilliancy of working with a Team Performance Coach within business or non-profit, is, that the coach doesn’t need to be the experts in your business, which is different from a sports team coach.  They do need to know the sport.  A Team Performance Coach needs to know Teams.  How they function and dysfunction.  Then bring in the game plan, the skills and drills and the proper equipment to help your team win the Game of Meetings!

Melanie Wanless, is the Founder of What Not To Yell Inc. and an Associate with Leadership Intelligence Inc.   and trained as a Corentus Certified Team Coach.