Throughout our lives, we all have and will continue to experience cooperation with others. Whether it’s working with a team at school or work, cooperating with different people and working together towards a certain goal is something we all go through. Working in a team can be difficult sometimes, especially when you are the one who facilitate and manage the team. A good team can be defined as where all team members are contributing with their best potential. But how can you manage a team where everyone feels comfortable and energetic about working? Three coaching skills can come in handy in creating such a team.
- What is Coaching?
Coaching is most commonly associated with sports. A coach’s purpose is to help change or support someone towards a goal they wish they achieve. For example, if a basketball team’s goal is to win in the national championships, their coach will support them by preparing various practice menus or creating a certain mindset within the team, all of which will guide the team to victory. This idea of coaching has recently been applied to fields outside of sports, such as business and life support. In this article, I will introduce three coaching skills that can help create an effective team.
- Coaching Skill 1 - Listening Skills
Listening skills in coaching include the ability to listen attentively and the actions that show the person you are listening to what they are saying. Attentive listening skills allow the speaker to feel safe and relaxed about sharing their own opinions or thoughts. It is also important to be receptive to the speaker’s ideas. Even if your teammate has a different opinion from yours, don’t deny it and accept it as it is. Different opinions mean there is room for discussion. Accept their opinion and then share your ideas.
Body language can be fundamental in communication with others. Practicing ‘Mirroring’ is one psychological trick of attentive listening. Mirroring means copying the other person’s action or posture. For example, if your teammate has their legs crossed during a meeting, cross your legs. If they lean in, slightly lean in as well. These mirroring actions allow people to empathize with you and, consequently, talk about their true feelings or thoughts. (Try not to make it too obvious, though!).
- Coaching Skill 2 - Questioning Skills
An effective questioning skill can extract the ‘answer’ hidden in a person’s unconsciousness. This means asking questions that make people reflect on themselves or on the problem they are facing. The human brain dislikes having an empty spot of not knowing the answer to something. Therefore, when we are asked a question we do not know the answer to, the brain will avoid keeping the empty spot by making you think and reflect until you find an answer. This process of filling in the empty spot becomes an opportunity for new perspectives. The key is to ask questions that make an empty spot in the brain. Through this questioning skill, we can reach into the unconsciousness of a person and spot deep thoughts and feelings.
How we construct our questions can shift the direction and depth of the thinking process. For instance, one of your teammates is always late to the weekly meeting. As a leader, how would you approach this problem? Asking them, “Why were you late?” will be a question focusing on the past, as well as the reason for their action. There is no way to change the past, so this discussion is impractical. Instead, asking, “What do you think you can do not to be late for the next meeting?” focuses on the person’s future action, and the discussion will move towards a solution. Moreover, this type of question brings a more positive attitude to the team.
All in all, make sure to ask questions that create empty spots and look for how you construct your questions.
- Coaching Skill 3 - Cheerleading Skills
Simply believing in your teammates’ possibilities can change their future actions and mindset. Knowing that someone is believing in you gives people confidence in themselves, and helps them to move forward. The important point of cheerleading skills is to focus on the core of the person’s action. This means looking out for ‘who they are' not ‘what they did’ or ‘what they can do.’ In other words, we should focus on the ‘being’ of our teammates. For example, if your teammate got an A for their previous report, how would you compliment them? Saying “Great job on getting an A!” would be focusing on the result. “You worked on the report for a whole month, right? Great job!” This would only be complementing their action. The best compliment focuses on the being of a person, such as “Wow, being able to work diligently towards a goal is such a great trait of yours.” It is easy to praise someone for what they have achieved, but being able to observe the ‘being’ of a person and complimenting that creates a strong bond between each other, boosts each other’s confidence, and subsequently makes a better team.
All three of these traits sound easy, but these are what fundamentally contribute to making a good team. Next time you have group work or any kind of activity that requires cooperating with different people, try implementing these coaching skills! I’m sure it will make a great difference.