Team Coaching: Moving from Ideas to Workplace Change

We've all been there. An expert comes in to facilitate a workshop for organizational development and to be frank, you know even before the start of the session that those powerpoint slides won't turn into any tangible changes in you day-to-day. How then, can you make sure that your next team-building effort wont suck?

Tuire Korvuo
December 5, 2023
Written by
Tuire Korvuo
Table of contents
Team Coaching: Moving from Ideas to Workplace Change

If you've led a team, you've likely encountered this scenario. Your business is doing well, but there are some problems within your team. People aren't communicating well, deadlines are being missed, and there might even be a few personality clashes. While you are an expert in your field, the intricate realm of human dynamics gives you a headache. Yet, you are hesitant about bringing in an external partner.

Because we've all been there, right? An expert strolls in armed with a PowerPoint presentation on team building, and it feels like an eternity in a sensory deprivation tank. In the best-case scenario, you may gain a few valuable tips on building trust or learn about an intriguing personality model. However, when Monday comes around, it's back to the same old routine. Is there not more to it?

At Laavu, our approach to team coaching is designed to transform team-building efforts into a  fundamental workplace transformation. And we promise you that after reading this article, you you will know how to make your next team coaching a success.

Check your attitude and prepare

Let's kick things off right from the start, shall we?

As the expert facilitator Priya Parker aptly puts it, 90% of what makes a great gathering takes place before the event even takes place. And we wholeheartedly agree. What does this mean?

First and foremost, it's about mindset. We've all heard the term "soft skills," and frankly, it should have been ditched ages ago. Who willingly invests time in honing these skills when they seem to distract our focus from real work? It's no wonder a team coaching session might yield little if you've already decided that the topic is trivial.

The term "soft skills" should have been discarded ages ago.

But here's the kicker: addressing these issues isn't soft, fluffy, or comfortable. It's hard work. Delving deep into subjects like workplace conflict, leadership challenges, and the art of constructive feedback is no walk in the park, regardless of your age, experience, or position. And furthermore, if these issues are not addressed they will eventually turn into something more serious.

Here's a golden rule to remember: the more you invest in the process, the greater the potential gains.

Second, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of prework. Unsurprisingly, an event will probably fall flat if the participants wander in unprepared, the ghosts of back-to-back meetings still haunting their minds and messing up their hair. The type of prework doesn't really matter as long as it taps into what participants already know about the topic and prepares them mentally. Simply taking a few minutes before the session to contemplate what you hope to gain from the session can have a massive impact on the outcome.

The more you invest in the process, the greater the potential gains.

Invest in insights rather than knowledge

Wouldn't it be wonderful if issues like workplace conflict, toxic office politics, or creating a culture of psychological safety could be resolved at the snap of a guru's fingers?

If we assume that the problem  is a lack of information, then it's logical to think that a wise guru armed with knowledge can wave it all away. Unfortunately, mere information injection is seldom enough to address these complex human issues. If it were that simple, you could just seek answers from ChatGPT instead of shelling out for an expensive guru, right?

“The greatest value and lasting change can only be achieved by in-depth exercises. It's also crucial that the insights come from people themselves,” says Aija Hukari, Laavu's performance psychologist and one of the developers of Laavu’s team coaching. Individuals are the experts in their situations, and an external guru can rarely craft a foolproof plan to make it all better. "And on top of that people are more likely to commit to a plan they've had a hand in creating themselves,” Aija says.

It is crucial that the insights come from people themselves.

So, the next time you're planning a session with your trusted guru, take a moment to consider whether the issue can be resolved from the outside or if it requires change to originate from within.

Don't fall for quick fixes

Unfortunately, human matters are complex and require time and effort. Humans are creatures of habit, so making changes takes a lot of repeating things over and over again. This is why a single lecture about the topic is rarely enough to make long-lasting changes.

Issues of human dynamics are like onions. Peel one layer, and you'll find another beneath it and another below that. Additionally, communities of people are continuously evolving and dynamic; you can never assume that a culture will remain static.

This is why continuity is the key to success. Ensure that you either invest in ongoing support from an external professional or develop your organisation's processes and talent to match the need for continuity and ensure these processes and skills are put to good use.

Don't settle for ideas; demand action

Simply entertaining lofty, abstract notions of workplace improvement during lectures doesn't guarantee actual change. Often, we prematurely pat ourselves on the back in such situations, forgetting that until these grand ideas transform into concrete actions, they remain just that—ideas.

How will you make sure that discussions result in sometihng concrete?

Consider these questions, for instance:

  1. What specific behaviours do you wish to see in your team?
  2. What practical steps exist to reach your goal after team coaching?
  3. Who bears the responsibility for making this behaviour a reality?
  4. When will this plan be put into action?

And most importantly, how will you know when the goal is reached?

Finally, track progress

Ideas regarding trust, culture, and leadership may seem abstract or philosophical but are not beyond measurement or monitoring. At Laavu, we think that to make a real change in how people interact, we need to hold them accountable. And the key lies in data.

Trying to change how people act without keeping an eye on whether the change is happening is like pouring resources down the drain. You're essentially saying this is important enough to invest in an expensive workshop or training but not important enough to evaluate whether your investment yielded any value.

Trust, culture, and leadership are not beyond measurement or monitoring.

Making a goal measurable compels you to bridge the gap between the abstract and the concrete, significantly increasing the chances of success. Setting up a follow-up process helps you better understand the topic and lets you reconsider if the actions taken were the right ones.

Read more about Laavu's team coaching here.