How do I know if my team is ready for coaching?

What's your wish for your team next quarter? Is it...

  • generate $__ millions in revenue?
  • deliver exceptional service to __# of customers?
  • meet all milestones while having fun (and avoiding burnout)?

Whatever your wish may be, you're probably asking a lot from your team.

So...how are you supporting them?

How are you activating your team's talents to meet the goals you've set for them?

Coaching your team is one of the most effective ways to help your people perform at their best. When you coach your team, you empower them to think better together and generate higher quality solutions than any one person alone.

But not all teams are ready for coaching.

Richard Hackman, who studied team effectiveness for over 40 years, found that there are five conditions to establish before implementing team coaching.

They are:

1. You have a real team.

You have a group of people (usually under 10) who share common goals and work interdependently to achieve them.

2. Your team has a compelling direction and purpose.

You have a team that is highly motivated by a strong collective "why," as well as a personal "why."

3. You have the right people with the right knowledge and skills.

You have the best mix of team members with the right talents to achieve your team purpose.

4. You have a solid team structure.

You have clear agreements for how the team works together, surfaces issues, and finds solutions. You also have a system for measuring team success and ensuring continuous team improvement.

5. You have a supportive working environment.

Your team is supported by the larger organization with the time, money, and other resources needed to accomplish its goals. Ideally, the larger organization also fully supports fostering a coaching culture for meeting its business objectives.

How many of these conditions does your team meet?

In the teams I work with, the fourth condition - solid team structure - is usually not well established yet. It seems as if business schools forgot to teach this critical component of good management.

So before we start a team coaching engagement, we spend a bit of time helping teams create and experiment with a structure that helps them do their best possible work together. It doesn't take long to set up a team structure, but the benefits are H-U-G-E. Teams often wonder how in the world they were doing work without it!

Once the five conditions are met, then we assess one last critical component of team coaching - timing.

Team coaching works best when we are improving real-work in real-time.

The best times when team coaching has the greatest impact are the beginning, midpoint, or completion of an actual project, strategy, or initiative. Because we know that beginnings are critical for team success, this is the preferred time for establishing team and peer coaching structures.

So, if your team meets at least 4 of the 5 conditions above (we'll give you some slack on team structure :) and is ready to embark on an exciting new goal or project, then you are ready for some powerful coaching to take your people to next level.