Creating a culture of collaboration might sound like the domain of Fortune 500 companies with overzealous human resources departments, but I’ll wager it’s a practice you’re finding yourself considering more and more.
You might not be using the buzzphrase, but as a top operator, you know your team can perform at its best only if the practice of operating in silos with jealously guarded roles becomes a thing of the past.
“Collaborating propels your firm to become a learning organization,” writes Natalie Nixon for Inc. magazine. Dynamic organizations have “cultures of ongoing learning, and structures that support that learning through safety nets for failure and opportunities for growth in all aspects of employees’ lives.”
Retention Strategy. We know how difficult and costly it is to find and retain a reliable labor force. So especially with younger workers, you must offer more than a job. You need to provide a clear vision about professional development. Executive coaching can be an effective tool when you are trying to develop an individual and supporting the team to work together efficiently. Enter the mix of group and one-on-one executive coaching. Select a group of team members to receive individual professional coaching from an outside resource or perhaps one-on-one mentoring from someone in the organization or industry. Then, coordinate regular group meetings for facilitated discussion about progress, challenges or ideas to hone.
Change Agents. You can continue group meetings or individual development. Use coaching to foster change and growth.
Six coaching strategies
Here are several tactics that will help you ensure your combination of group and individual coaching works well and achieves results.
- Start with a questionnaire. Although everyone is unique, having a baseline set of questions for everyone to complete creates consistency and helps a process emerge. You can create a simple questionnaire asking each person about goals, concerns and future plans.
- Establish a baseline. Using an assessment tool such as StrengthsFinder gives everyone a consistent language to speak during group conversations. It helps your team understand how to leverage their strengths for success. Managers can use the assessment to evaluate the team’s effectiveness or to consider if individuals should be realigned in their job roles.
- Set a regular call or video time. Now, it’s time to get the group together. Consistency is key. I often recommend these monthly or even quarterly group coaching sessions be done over conference or video call. Everyone must give an update and play a role in the conversation.
- Practice confidentiality. A key to fostering trust within your team is confidentiality. There are two layers. If an outside coach is used, the coach should not discuss one team member’s sessions with another. In the group setting, remind each person that what is discussed during the call is confidential. I usually ask each person to acknowledge the confidential nature of the discussion verbally before we begin the meeting.
- Check in as a supervisor. Managers or owners still need to hear about progress. If you’re the manager, schedule a time to talk with the coach about the overall progress of the individuals or group. You should feel free to request an email or other written update at regularly scheduled intervals. Also, check-in with the participants themselves. Are they seeing value? As the manager, you need to know your people and dollar resources are being effectively used.
- Set an end date. All good things must come to an end, including coaching. I like using an end date because it gives the client a finite time to work toward accomplishing specific objectives; without it, we’re talking therapy not business development.
Sarah Beth Aubrey’s mission is to enhance success and profitability in agriculture by building capacity in people. She strives to foster that potential through one-on-one executive coaching, facilitating peer groups and leading boards through change-based planning initiatives. Visit her at SarahBethAubrey.com, and read her blog at AgWeb.com.