Effective Coaching and Its Impact on Team Performance

Effective Coaching and Its Impact on Team Performance

5.9 min read

Terrell A. Floyd

When was the first time that you were a part of a formal team?  For many of us it dates back to our first t-ball, soccer, basketball and/or cheerleading league.  From an informal perspective, our first team experiences began as we played with siblings, friends, and relatives.  Now think back to when you were required to lead a team.  You may have been nominated as the team captain of the kickball or basketball team in which you were responsible for picking the other members of your team.  At this moment in your adolescent years you were forming leadership skills.  These skills exhibited were either learned or developed while being in your role.  It is at this moment in time, when you began forming impressions about teamwork and the impact that a team can have towards a given goal.

For some, leading a team can be a difficult task.  When deciding to work in groups or being an individual contributor many would rather work in a group.  The human logic would have you to believe that it is easier if you work in a group.  Dr. Richard Hackman, a former Harvard Professor, was a leading professor in the field of leadership effectiveness and team performance. His research implies, that a strong team foundation is one of the most important attributes to a successful team.  In order, to have an exceptional team the team must have a leader or leaders who will help manage the team’s performance and contributions.  A great way to create a team environment is to have a series of coaches who will coach the team’s behaviors.  Effective coaching must deal with the team’s performance and less on interpersonal issues.  Hackman and Wageman (2005) coaching should focus on three things: the amount of effort  team members apply to their collective work, the appropriateness of the performance strategies they utilize to accomplish their work and, the level of knowledge and skill the team applies to its’ work.  Coaching should begin at the beginning at the first team practice.  For the purpose of this article I would like to focus briefly on three types of coaching I believe we experience early on in life; motivational, strategy and educational coaching.

Motivational coaching should generally be done at the beginning of the team’s creation.  It is during this time when the team’s expectations are set by the coach.  These expectations would include clear parameters for members, establish a clear sense of who the team members are, and level set with the team to let them know who has authority.  The leader’s direction should be “challenging, yet clear, and consequential which energizes team members, orients their attention and action, and engages their talents (Hackman & Wageman 2005).” It is important that leaders specify the ends but not the means. When this type of coaching happens, coaches begin to place trust in the players allowing them to develop critical thinking skills.  During this phase, team members are able to take full advantage of the team’s knowledge, skill, and expertise. This allows teammates to be creative while also displaying effective ways of how they can accomplish the goal.  The team’s composition plays a major role in the effectiveness of the team.  When forming a team, one should look to form a relatively small group.  It is more effective if the team is less than six individuals.  Coaches are encouraged to create a team that encompasses homogeneity and heterogeneity.  Manager led teams follow the directions of their manager.  Self-managing teams, are teams in which they perform the task as well as monitor and manage work process and progress.  Self-designing teams perform, self-manage and also design the team and its organizational context.  Self-governing teams perform the task associated with the other three types of team authority and establish the overall direction of the team.  While it is possible for both self-managing and self-designing teams to make significant and valuable contributions to their organizations, the other two options are rarely successful.

Strategy focused coaching is done after the team has executed a task associated with objectives of the team.  During this form of coaching one should set a compelling direction.  This type of coaching is seen in the locker room during the half-time break, when the coach is delivering a passionate speech about what happened on the court/field.  The leader must give the team a clear sense of where they are going and discussions about the team’s purpose. Included in the strategy of the team’s make up is the team’s structure.  The team’s structure consist of the players of the team and their role or position as it serves the team.  By allowing team assignments in an organization, companies are generally able to incorporate skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback.  Teamwork allows for organizations to assign larger and more meaningful task.  In order for a team to function cohesively, it is important to establish norms within the team at an early stage.  By discussing task and establishing norms, members are more aware of the given task and in turn will execute on a higher level.  Therefore coaches and or organizations will not tolerate undesired behaviors.  Ways to reap the desired outcome coaches can create a reward system that will enhance the team’s ability to work as one unit.  Most reward systems are designed for individual results however, as organizations begin using more teams they need to introduce a reward system that compliments group efforts.

Educational based coaching in some research is said to be saved towards the end of the group’s life.  By doing so it allows the coach to develop and utilize the knowledge and skills of the other members later in the team’s development.  The knowledge and experience gained by team members is due to trainings they have gained throughout their organizational background.  For instance, when recruiting players coaches look for individuals who have played in different weather conditions or maybe even different division of sports.  This difference of environments can make a huge impact when faced with adverse conditions especially if it is an outdoor sport.  It is to no surprise, that team members often have different technical abilities as their backgrounds and experiences differ.  It is in the team’s best interest if they find ways to harness the different educational backgrounds within their team as they seek to create homogeneity.  Therefore, I would offer that this is one of the most important pieces that coaches must consider when creating their team.

Playing on a team is not an easy task when everyone has their own individual motives.  However, playing on a team for a common goal of winning can be rewarding.  When creating a team coach’s have a huge responsibility to ensure they pick the right team members that foster homogeneity.  Dr. Hackman’s research allows us to look at how to effectively lead a team by examining, strategy, motivational, and educational coaching.  It is important while coaching to not focus on one particular style of coaching however, to use them interchangeably as needed.

  • Quote of the Day

    “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.”

    — Andrew Carnegie