Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
There are few things more frustrating than gathering a team of skilled individuals who just don’t seem to be able to work together well. There is also nothing more fulfilling than creating a team that is supportive, cooperative and results-focused. Effective coaches know how to support teams in a way that will help them to strengthen relationships, improve their performance and reach their goals.
Understanding the coaching process and the desired objectives can help leaders create a culture that is empowering and growth-oriented. Learning to utilize the coaching tools that can best facilitate team growth and collaboration is an essential step in leading a successful team. The six steps below can help take your teams to the next level.
Related: Business Teams Need Coaches Too
1. Identify and understand the individual team members’ strengths, styles and team roles
We tend to characterize teammates’ strengths by first looking at their job duties and then assessing how their perceived strengths help them to fulfill these duties. This is not the most accurate way to assess the strengths of individuals on your team.
Three questions can help you make a quick analysis of what an individual team member does well. First, “What do your coworkers come to you for help with?” Second, “What am I working on now that gets me excited?” Finally, “What are the recent accomplishments that I am most proud of and why?”
2. Define team values and norms
Leaders and managers often hire team members that they believe share the same mindset and perspective. There is an assumption that they share values, but often those values have not been clearly defined. When developing a team’s values and norms, having each team member answer a few questions is helpful. How do they want to interact with each other? What are the values that each member believes are most important? What behaviors are essential when engaging with each other?
Compiling and analyzing the individual team members’ answers will help the coach and the team members establish values and norms that will govern communication and behavior. Once all team members agree on the values and standards, the team can create the parameters that will help each member feel comfortable and supported in their role.
3. Build trust within the team through open conversations
Great coaches facilitate discussions that focus on the fears and anxiety of the individual team members. Having honest conversations about hard issues can be challenging, but the easiest way to destroy trust is to ignore these discussions. The ability to be open and vulnerable is an essential characteristic of successful teams.
4. Create a well-functioning collaborative process
Each team member will have their own opinion on the best process for problem-solving. Some team members may think it is best to gather data and develop a statistical analysis of the situation, while others may value discussion and group creativity. There is no set rule, but the coach should help develop a process that is a good fit for the unique needs of the team and considers the strengths and weaknesses of its members.
5. Set team goals and devise strategies and action plans for achieving those goals
When the coach and team understand their strengths, values, norms and preferred problem-solving methodology, the team can begin to develop plans and strategies to reach those goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals is one of the best goal-setting tools on the market today and can help teams focus on the things that really matter.
6. Address and solve conflicts within the team
Every savvy coach expects and is prepared for conflicts that will arise during a coaching engagement. The groundwork for working through conflict should be established early when values and norms are defined. The coach’s role is not to enforce rules, but to guide group discussions based on the values established by the team itself.
Whenever possible, coaches should refrain from offering advice on solving the team’s issues but should help the team reach those solutions through open discussion.
Team coaching can positively impact team performance as team members learn to maximize individual strengths and minimize weaknesses. It can also enhance the satisfaction of team members when they feel supported and empowered as a consequence of the team coaching process.