THE SECRETS OF SUCCESS IN COACHING (7): Dealing with poor team performance
Janine Everson, Director of the Centre for Coaching, explores in this final interview of a seven part series on The Secrets of Success in Coaching: “Dealing with poor team performance”.
In this example of exceptionally powerful coaching, Janine explores the case of dealing with poor team performance. Often one is tempted to look at the team to work with them to fix the problem, giving them new ways of working. In this example, Janine shows how working with the leader to explore what it is he/she is doing or not doing can bring astounding insights and have a very significant impact on results.
You will find a full transcript of the interview below.
Hello from the Dukascopy TV studio in Geneva! We are talking about the Secrets of Success in Coaching with Janine Everson from the Centre for Coaching. Welcome, Janine, to the studio!
So we talked that coaching is not about focusing on the problem but the person. But how would you go about coaching somebody who has to deal with a low team performance?
Yes. You know, it’s surprising how often that comes out. One of the biggest problems is as a coach, if you come to me and say, “My team is not performing,” I’m not coaching the team. I’m coaching you. That’s the first problem.
The second one is I might be tempted to say, “Okay. Let’s look at the team. Let’s see what the problem is. Let’s deal with them. Let’s try and give them new ways of working. Let’s try to be more efficient with time.” All these things may make a difference, but not necessarily. However, if I start thinking about you as the leader, what is it that you’re doing or not doing that might be impacting the team? That can be very interesting.
So maybe one example, I had a sales executive who was sent to me for coaching. He used to head up a very successful team; the top performing team in the organization. He got a whole lot of new members. And within three months, they were at the bottom of the log, and he was very, very upset. Absolutely outraged. He said, “These people are just lazy, they don’t care, they don’t try, there’s no energy, there’s no motivation! I try everything!”
And he was telling me with a lot of passion and frustration and anger and everything, “I try so hard! I do everything! I meet with them, I talk to them, I’m always available! And they never seem to just come to the party.”
And I noticed he spoke a lot and he was a big, powerful man and I found him quite overwhelming. And I said to him, “So tell me, how do you show up when you’re with your team members?” He says, “Well, you know, I run meetings and I inspire them,” and he told me all the same things again.
And I said, “Well, you know what? How about you go and notice everything about your behaviors when you’re with your team? I’d like you to notice how you speak. Not only what you say, but how you say it. What’s the volume of your voice? I’d like you to notice your posture. Are you sitting back and talking to them like this or are you forward? What are you doing with yourself? What are you doing with your hands? What are you doing with the volume of your voice? How often do you speak versus them? What’s the ratio of speech? Anything like that, go away and notice it.” And he’s like, “Well, I don’t see why” and I said, “Just humor me.”
So off he went and he came back two weeks later. And you know, our coachees are very clever once they’re onto something. And he said to me, “You know, Janine, I had no idea what I was doing.” And I said, “Well, tell me, what were you doing?” He said, “I speak more than 80% of the time. I arrive at the meeting expecting them not to do much so I’m already a little bit irritable. So by the end of the meeting, I’m so frustrated, I’m shouting. And I’m trying to motivate them, but I find myself – at one stage, I was standing up at the table and I was – I think I’ve even got a picture – I was shouting at them!”
And he said, “I never even give them a chance to speak.” “And,” he said, “Even worse than that…” Yes, he’s been caught like that. He said, “Even worse than that, sometimes they start speaking, and then I interrupt them.” And I said to him, “So, how would you feel if you had a manager like that?” And he said, “There’s no way I would.”
And so, we started working. It took time. We started working on how he was showing up. And it took time, but six months later, the team performance had radically changed. And by the end of that year, he was again in the top performing team. It was amazing. And the thing that changed the most, was him. Because suddenly, he became part of the whole. He let them speak, he learned how to stay quiet – that was his biggest problem; he couldn’t stop speaking – and he gave them space. And he learned how to listen. That was one of his biggest problems. He actually learned how to listen.
And this is another example how coaching made a real difference in the lives of people. Thank you very much, Janine Everson, from the Centre for Coaching.