Nothing gets accomplished without expending energy. Teams have the potential to create their own energy. Energy is building when team members are creating their own ideas and figuring out how to solve difficult problems for themselves. In this kind of electrically charged environment all things are possible. High Performance Team coaches are responsible for helping teams learn the behaviors that build team energy and are responsible for monitoring the team behaviors for actions and situations that deplete team energy.
Coaching a High Performance Team is a lot like trying to teach a child to ride a bicycle. At first the parent holds onto the seat, as the child masters steering and peddling, then runs along beside the child still holding the seat until the child gains a sense of balance. Then the parent finally lets go still running along to try to catch the child if it looks like they are going to fall or hurt themselves. All the while the child was gaining experience, skill, and confidence.
Continuous coach intervention is like teaching a child to ride a bike but never taking off the training wheels...it's never quite the same thing as doing it by yourself.
With this mental model in mind for coaching in mind, Coaches only intervene, that is, interrupt the flow of team activity or dialogue when individuals or cliques clearly demonstrate serious anti-team behavior. Anti-team behavior can take a number of forms, but basically it is any behavior that is destructive to team building and team objectives. This could take the form of showing disrespect to another team member, or withdrawing from team activities and discussions. In most instances the coach should err on the side of waiting a little to long to intervene. Usually a gentle reminder is all that is needed to get individuals or the team back on track. Team building exercises and trust building exercises can be used to reset team behavior. Sometimes referring the team to the team charter, or the essential element of High Performance Teams displayed on the wall is all that will be needed. In extreme cases, individuals may need to asked by the coach to meet separately from the team with the coach. Here the coach gently explains his or her observed behavior, and asks the individual to work on improving it. If the individual disagrees, the coach should urge the individual to raise the issue with the rest of the team to see if the team has observed the same behavior the coach observed.
Copyright (C) 1996-2002, Donald J. Bodwell. All rights reserved.