May 6, 2019

What's New in Team Coaching?

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If you're looking to improve your team coaching game, here are few juicy resources to get you started.

1. Team Coaching for Agile Teams

Nearly every tech startup incorporates an agile approach to product development. But how many ScrumMasters know how to coach their teams for high performance?

If you're curious to learn more about this approach, check out the latest podcast of the Team Coaching Zone, featuring Art Pittman and Bob Costello on the topic of "Sustaining Momentum in Team Coaching: An Agile Perspective." You'll dig learning from these master Agile Coaches as they discuss their experiences with tech teams across the country.  

You may also enjoy a book mentioned several times in the podcast - Coaching Agile Teams, by Lyssa Adkins. This is a killer resource for tech leaders. You'll especially love the discussion around how to recover from "command-and-control-ism" and adopt a "control-and-release" mindset instead. This shift is one of the most difficult hurdles for managers as they begin their team coaching journey.  

2. Coursera's "Building High Performing Teams"

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I've often pondered about the lack of MBA courses on team development. Given how important team coaching skills are for today's managers, you would think that a course like this would be a prerequisite for all business school grads.

Well, fret not. Coursera has just opened enrollment for a new course, "Building High Performing Teams." Taught by business anthropologist, Derek Newberry, and Aviva Lagett, both at University of Penn, this course teaches leaders:

  • how to create team ground rules,
  • how to identify problems that hurt morale and productivity,
  • and how to create behavioral changes for high performing teams.

I've already viewed 80% of the course material and picked up a few good pointers - especially around how to create clear communication norms within teams. Well done, Coursera! This course opens the door for more teaming knowledge to percolate within management education.

3. "Why Some Startups Win" and "Why Silicon Valley Has So Many Bad Managers"

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You may also enjoy a couple of recent articles on how how startups get it right and how startups get it wrong.

"Why Some Startups Win," by Steve Blank, is a fascinating case study of how a marketing department improved its performance by getting clear on its mission.

There's an interesting discussion here around the difference between "mission" and "mission intent." Blank suggests that leaders use the term "mission intent" because it emphasizes the thinking behind the mission. It also allows for the mission to change - as it sometimes does - when new info or new needs emerge. What's important, Blank says, is that everyone understands the larger intent of the mission so that they are aligned around the things that matter.

The other article that piqued my interest is "Why Silicon Valley Has So Many Bad Managers," published by the Lighthouse Blog. The author brings up some very real issues that plague early-stage companies.

I was particularly taken by the notion of the "vicious cycle of bad managers." Because leaders rarely have good management role models, they eventually repeat the same poor patterns themselves. This is, of course, all the more reason for organizations to invest in the leadership capacity of their people.

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