A very senior officer of a multi-national corporation told me last week that his Board has no need for team coaching. They already operate, he said proudly, as a highly effective Team. Their profits are rising across their portfolio; he is confident of the future.
Last month, he explained, he and his Board had agreed to develop a radical new product. This would develop his Company’s existing output of specialist instruments in an entirely new direction. Data, not equipment manufacture, would now form the core of his commercial strategy. He was, he assured me, hugely excited by the commercial opportunity and looking forward to the challenging change management programme that would be necessary for success. Now, he told me, he had given his instructions and handed execution to the relevant divisional chief and his team.
An hour later the Chief Financial Officer told me that he couldn’t see the point of the new product. He was not yet prepared fully to fund the development work required to plan the Programme Management. To be convinced he would need formal briefing on the new concept. He is on leave for three weeks.
Yet one hour later still, the HR Director told me that he fully understood and supported the strategic nature of the new product. He was comfortable that there would be no reason at all to change any of his recruitment, training or retention policies.
Slowly the story emerged.
The legal team entirely support the new product and the strategic change. They understand the new role managing and manipulating customer data generated by their own instruments. This, they are quick to admit, will be difficult to do. Next month they hope to take some advice from an old employee who now works with a software house. He is on leave at present.
The Sales Director is very excited by the challenge. His current team are very high quality. It is true, he admits, that they have not hit their targets for a year or two, but he is content this will be solved by the new product. He would like to know more about the thing but he is confident that selling a data service to support the existing sale of instruments will be a relatively simple matter.
The Marketing Director does not expect that the changes will fundamentally alter his plans.
And so it goes on…..
At the top, the big man sits. He is confident in his Team and convinced they are getting on with his direction and that they share his enthusiasm. In fact, he tells me, his team enthusiastically support him. Unfortunately, he does admit, they have so far responded simply by assuming that the change is just one more new box of equipment to manufacture. They have failed, he complains, to recognise the scale of change: technical, commercial, human. People, processes and equipment will all need to change. Company culture will need to change. People will need to talk to other people in (horror of horrors) “other departments”. At the moment, he admits, his seniors tend to exist in silos. They talk only when necessary.
Privately, the big man knows his problem. This is not a team. It’s a group of employees who come together when ordered to do so – and who resent the time spent with one another in meetings because this delays their already over-busy schedules.
The big man’s people also privately know this. But the marketing man is perpetually irritated by the Sales Director. The Sales Director is frustrated by the lack of responsivity from HR. HR are waiting for Legal to advise them. The Chief Financial Officer is widely respected but regarded as oddly unapproachable by everyone.
Not much is being done about the new product.
It’s very questionable whether the leadership Team is acting as a team at all. This is a group of people who co-operate, but only in order to survive in their own silos.
Team Coaching can help fix this. It is not simply about fixing failure. This is a highly successful Company. It’s about improvement. Always doing better. Never accepting the existing status.
When everyone has a good idea about what needs to be done, but no-one quite has the energy to drive it forwards; when everyone feels they could make things happen, if only someone else would take the enabling actions that would free their hands. This is the time to get the team together. This is the time for the eagle-eyed leader to bring his people together. Operating alone, living in silos, will never work.
Dialogue International provides team and individual coaching services. We operate in conjunction with our partners at Maximum Performance International Ltd and utilise the proven UpAGear methodology.