W08 – S03 – Coaching your team

What holds your team members back, and what can you do about it?

A well-known leadership principle is that you should spend roughly 80% of your time with 20% of your team.

When you build a team of team building advocates, you are looking to find and develop leaders who will grow their teams. This means you should attempt to identify those who are willing (and ideally also capable) and invest time encouraging, coaching and equipping them.

Having regular accountability and coaching sessions with people in your team who are willing to take consistent action makes a huge difference.

In general, most people appreciate someone holding them accountable for doing what they know they should.

It’s a bit like the difference between relying on your own motivation to go to the gym. Many people find it initially more effective to engage a personal trainer. When you are paying money and have a regular session with a professional, it’s more likely that you will turn up.

Establishing consistent mini-habits is one of the biggest keys to achieving any goal. Habits take deliberate action to develop. However, after a couple of months, the habit has become so ingrained, it has become much easier to stick with.

In general, most of us struggle with how to allocate our time best. This becomes even more of a challenge when we add deliberate network-building to an already busy schedule.

So, it is highly beneficial to evaluate where and how we invest our time. There are so many great helpful talks that have been delivered on the subject of time allocation, and it is worth continually encouraging your team members to listen to such great resources.

For the moment, it’s worth revisiting the Important versus the Urgent in terms of allocating time to network building.

Building a network means investing time in developing an asset that will predictably yield great results in the longer term. Of course, building a network may also deliver results in the short term. However, this is more likely good luck than good management.

It is very easy to fall into “I will when” thinking. I’ll get around to building my network when I overcome my latest crisis. The problem with this thinking is that there is always a looming crisis, isn’t there?

The problem with not establishing mini-habits to build long-term assets is that you never break out of the vicious cycle of being stressed by the ever-present things that you feel must be urgently done.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that your team members are likely to struggle with and that you, as their leader, may be able to help them with.

1. Has your team member has clarified their end goals?

Many people start businesses that either fail or discover that their business owns them rather than the other way around.

Many people “go networking” as a way of generating more leads or as a way of increasing their business.

Do these people consider what will be the result if this strategy is highly successful?

The elation associated with a huge increase in business may be short-lived.

Will this put them in the position they would really like to be in?

Many people would answer that question by saying that’s just over-thinking it. In other words, let’s just bite off as much as we can chew and worry about how we deal with it later.

Instead of building a network to support a business, what if you created a network to support the life you truly desire?

In other words, what if you said: I’m going to build a network to support how I want to live rather than building a network to make a particular business successful.

So, let’s start with my End goals. How do I want to live? Is it important for me to have increasing amounts of secure income with decreasing amounts of time required to earn that income? What would that allow me to do? Should I be building a network to support a means goal or my end goals?

If you detect that your team member has not clarified the End goals that building their network may make possible for them, there are some great resources you can suggest they listen to, read or watch.

2. Is your team member prioritising pleasing experiences over pleasing results?

Time flies when you are having a great time, doesn’t it?

Conversely, time drags when you are engaged in boring activities, doesn’t it?

What if a minimal amount of time spent on boring activities produces far greater results than a much larger amount of time spent on pleasing activities?

It’s worth helping your team members identify how much of their time they are spending where and which activities are likely to contribute most to their highly desired end goals.

In particular, it often helps to help your team member balance the amount of time they are spending on networking versus the amount of time they are spending on network building. 

Investing time in lively one-on-one Zooms can be very inspiring and can really help build valuable, trusted relationships.

However, searching on LinkedIn for those who could become great network builders, thus multiplying your time, could be a much less immediately inspiring activity.

Help your team members determine if where they are currently spending their time is likely to be the best use of their time to achieve their most strongly desired end goals.

3. Does your team member habitually prioritise doing urgent tasks before important but less urgent tasks

There has been some excellent research done that shows that if you deliberately set aside time for important activities, you will complete more of the urgent tasks on your list than you will if you start work on all the things in your inbox that you know have to be done.

In other words, you can get more done in your day, depending on the order in which you do things.

Those of you familiar with the Rock-Sand-Water experiment know, that this experiment was set up to visually demonstrate just how important it is to structure the order in which you do things in your day.

4. Does your team member understand the difference between intensity and consistency?

Have you noticed how many people are briefly excited about a new idea?

For example, we have all seen people get excited about a “New Year’s” resolution and yet not stick with it.

There are many reasons for this. One of them is that they put a massive (intense) effort in at the beginning only to discover that they cannot sustain that level of activity.

Encourage team members you are coaching not to fall into this trap.

The answer is to achieving success in anything is forming consistent, sustainable mini-habits. There are some brilliant resources on this subject. For example, Mini-Habits by Stephen Guise, the Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen and Intensity vs Consistency by Simon Sinek.

5. Is your team member prone to be distracted by  “shiny new objects”

Have you noticed that great ideas are not in short supply?

However, how many genuinely outstanding ideas have you seen fail?

Equally, how many pretty mediocre ideas have you seen succeed?

What’s the difference?

In general, it’s consistent, persistent and often tedious habits that are essential to success.

Often, team members will tell you about a shiny new object that they are excited about.

If they are genuinely asking for your opinion about this shiny new object, give them some perspective by asking questions that may lead them to think carefully about how much time they will be devoting to this shiny new object.

In particular, ask where will the time come from to invest in this new thing. Will it distract from the established habits that will predictably yield results?

Are they bored with the consistent activities they are currently engaged with, hoping something new and exciting will come along?

Do they lack patience?

6. Is your team member constantly expressing feelings of being overwhelmed?

Have you met people who live their life constantly saying: I’m too busy. Some even seem to wear “being too busy” as a badge of honour.

The real question is: when does your team member see this changing?

What steps are they taking to set up the future they’d prefer? A future where they are not constantly struggling for time.

Are they the only ones that have a lot on their plates?

What can they take off their plate to focus more time on setting up the future they truly desire?

Sometimes, your team member needs to just press the “pause button” and re-think the ideal future they desire and what they could do to progress towards that future.

7. Is your team member a victim of “I will when”

Some of your team members will believe that when they get over their current crisis, they will be able to commit to building their networks. They are looking forward to it and, in due course, start putting in the effort.

However, it’s not long before the next crisis emerges in their life, and they once again need to put network building (along with several other important activities in their life) on hold while they deal with the crisis at hand.

Every time they pick up network-building again, it takes time to get their head around the process and build momentum.

They fail to understand that everyone has the same crises – some just continue to take consistent action despite the current crisis. In general, they manage to achieve this because they have established consistent mini-habits.

Like any habit, such as cleaning one’s teeth, a small enough habit is something that can be done while dealing with the crisis at hand.

8. Does your team member realise that it’s not what happens to them that counts. Instead, it’s how they choose to react to what happens to them?

Achieving your ultimate end goals depends mainly on how you view and react to what happens to you.

People often react to the same event in very different ways.

Two people go through the same event (a minor traffic accident, perhaps). 

One emerges from his vehicle wielding an iron bar, frothing at the mouth, screaming obscenities and threatening violence. At the same time, the other calmly searches for a pen and paper to exchange insurance details. 

The psycho gets arrested for attempted assault and battery with a weapon, while Mr Calm drives home with a small scratch on his car, kisses his wife and kids and carries on with his happy life. 

In another example, one person receives a considerable amount of additional business due to their network-building activities and decides they must stop network building so they can absorb all this extra work.

Another person who has also received considerable additional business due to their network-building activities decides that network-building is the goose that lays the golden egg. 

So, they decide that they will consistently maintain their network-building activities despite having temporarily won additional business.

The same event results in entirely different responses and completely predictable future consequences.

9. Do you and your team members truly understand the power that habits can have to solve many problems?

You are not a counsellor or psychotherapist and even if you were, if you want to build an extensive network, in general, your time is not best invested in providing counselling services to your team members.

Rather than trying to examine and solve particular problems, learn how to become effective at persuading your team (individually and in team meetings) to form valuable network-building mini-habits. 

In particular, one not-negotiable mini-habit should be listening to CC playlists. These playlists will help overcome many of the issues we have been discussing in this podcast episode.

It will save you a great deal of time and help create more energised, enthusiastic, hopeful, personally developed team members if you can persuade them to listen to our Podcasts.

In other words, let the Podcasts do the heavy lifting for you!

Being aware of some of the common things holding your team members back means you may be able to help them with resources.

Also, it’s worth deciding to become good at asking great questions that may help your team members become more self-aware and inspired to find better solutions.