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  • Too critical?

    09/12/2014 | Zaltbommel

    In this 'Schouten Blog' Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel (director coaching Schouten Global and coach of Team Brunel) writes, among other things, about her experiences in the talent-selection process, the training sessions on Lanzarote, her presence in the ports of the stop-overs of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015.

    The many business people I spoke during the stop-over in Cape Town got me thinking again. Was I too critical and demanding about our communication agreements or on the right track? They also  highlighted the financial benefits of team coaching.

    IMG_3375.jpgIn  several teams the first switches are a fact. Some teams used their spare to give crew members more time to recover. In others switches took place for different reasons. An international sailor approached me and thought I was way too anxious about ‘the warm blanket risk’ I talked about at our seminar Leadership: the human factor. (The risk of avoiding to confront each other for the sake of preserving the good atmosphere. ) ‘Be happy about this great team culture’, he said, ‘in the long term this connectedness is gold, they’re gonna need this.’ From business people that support Team Brunel I got similar reactions. They were impressed by the mentality of the team and less critical than me about the necessity of communication about small irritations. It made me wonder: could it be I was too critical, was I splitting straws? I have resolved to acknowledge more what already is and at the same time continue to strive for further improvement.

    When Gerd-Jan joined our conversation and shared his experience on our latest coaching sessions I felt reassured. ‘I don’t know what exactly happens, but after expressing my thoughts and feelings to you things seem to change. It makes me feel fully confident and eager to race again.’ 

    Aligned values are crucial
    Despite their less critical attitude towards addressing friction, it’s remarkable that a lot of managers are particularly interested in how to avoid conflicts in a business team and what to do when the values are not aligned. Sure, there is a difference with a sailing team that is constantly on top of each other. In a business team people have more opportunity to say yes and do no; it’s less transparent and easier to go your own way. Most of the time the context is more complex and the  urgency of collaboration is less felt because of the difference in responsibilities.  But research shows that aligning your values towards a collective goal and translating them into behavior is exactly what business teams have to work on to really become high performing. Politics and hidden agendas are killing for excellence. A team must share a collective dream. During our preparations, we identified the individual values and extracted the collective group values from that. How did they want to reach that shared objective of winning the race? These are Brunel’s collective team values: trust, respect, connectedness, joy, transparency, learning, no egos, self-confidence and performance-driven. Once that was established, they could make agreements about how to communicate to get the best out of themselves and their teammates. From here it follows that you can’t hush up difficult matters, but have to address them. Which not necessarily means you have to discuss everything. You can also acknowledge differences. Which is less hard when you respect and know your own and each other’s  strengths and weaknesses. That’s how you avoid conflict. If you can’t get those team values aligned, the team will perform less well than it could, because it stops growing.

    Financial benefits
    Those same businesspeople focused attention on a more financial effect of team coaching. It not only leads to improved leadership, a stronger team and better performance, but those better results also improve sponsor satisfaction, lead to lower costs, more efficiency and reduces the chance of having to replace people. I mainly focus on the aspect of getting them from good to excellent, but the financial benefits are just as interesting of course.

    A great example is how Vestas brought those perspectives together in their press conference (December 8): ‘To safe their marketing campain they want to do anything possible to get Team Vestas out sailing again, because they are an incredible strong team on shore and on the water that deserves to prove itself.’ So they even explore the possibilities of building a new boat.  

    Click here for more information on managing teams and interaction or the Schouten Global seminar Leadership: The Human Factor.

    Improving teams in 6 steps High Performance Teams steps.JPG
    Definition. What’s it all about, what are we going to work on?
    Discovery. What are collective values from the perspective of what works in a team?
    Dream. What is the collective aspiration? What might be if we take our values seriously?
    Design. Determine what should be. Action planning.
    Deliver. Create, implement, do it, get down to work.
    Review. What works, what do we have to work on, what are we going to change?

    Nothing from this blog may be reproduced without written permission from Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel of Schouten Global.

    Update Team Brunel, December 9, 2014 
    by Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel, Director Coaching - Schouten Global
    Coach - Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

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