Coaching your team

One thing that often happens as a Project Manager is that you’re not given a choice in who you have in your team, you just need to work with whoever you’re given. This means that you often have little/no choice on “who is the best fit” rather making the person fit the team/role.

What can you do if you’re given someone less than ideal? What if you really don’t think that this person will work in your team? What can you do? During this blog, I’ll go through some of the things that I do when I onboard a new team member and some tips for onboarding new team members successfully.

First things first: Before you meet them.

When I’m onboarding new team members, I’ll normally be given a name and perhaps their CV. I always try to have an informal chat with their Manager to understand how they like to work, their character and any personality assessments that they may have done. Then I’ll reach out to the person for a 20-30minute ‘coffee’ to introduce myself, the project and understand how they like to work. The main thing to realise about coaching your team members is that you are coaching them to succeed and excel in your project. You are doing this for the benefit of your team, the end project and customer. This is not a vanity exercise or a way to exert your leadership. Your role is to create an environment where your team can succeed and coaching will facilitate that.

Onboarding

I try to give them the following information before they start the project so that we have clear expectations for: how we run the project, how we want to work together and any other important information that might be relevant (e.g. timesheet submission, client information etc).

During the project

There may be several reasons why you need to coach your team during the project:

  • Inexperience
  • Lack of skills
  • Interpersonal issues

For whatever reason, you need to work out a plan for yourself for how you address these issues within individual 1-1 sessions or in group sessions within the team meeting. With my experience, I already have a pretty good idea for how I need to coach someone based on the root cause and can make a plan for how I can best support them to excel in this project.

Hints and Tips

There are a few things that can help when coaching team members:

  • Watch your language
    • Think about the words and the questions that you’re asking. Try to avoid using accusatory/ blame / dictatorial language
  • Choose your moments wisely
    • I try to make sure that I keep our coaching sessions to ‘relaxed’ moments of the day/week. This could be any day which has a reduced cadence in your team and a time which is convenient
    • Also, look at the timing in the project. Are you nearing a deadline? Is the coaching needed right now?

What would you recommend for coaching colleagues?

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