The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Being A Good Co-ordinator

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Great teams always have a co-ordinator. Why? Getting creative people to combine their talents can be a challenging task.

The co-ordinator’s role is to ensure people channel their efforts towards achieving the team’s goal. Let’s see how this works in practice.

Clarity is vital. The leader’s role is to communicate the team’s aims and strategy for achieving its goals.

The team member’s job is to clarify their best contribution and make clear contracts about their part in achieving the goals. They must then do creative work, cooperate and achieve concrete results.

Sounds simple in theory. But things can go wrong, especially during the creative work stage. Strong co-ordination is vital, otherwise individuals may do their own thing.

Looking back, can you think of somebody who was a good co-ordinator? How did they keep people’s eyes on the picture of success? How did they then co-ordinate people’s efforts to achieve the goal?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe somebody you have known who played this role and what they did to perform it successfully.

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“But isn’t co-ordination the leader’s job?” somebody may ask.

Great leaders often follow the STAGE Model of leadership. This covers the following aspects of running a team.

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Some leaders focus on the strategic and emotional leadership. They hire the right people to manage the tactics, administration and grunt work.

Great leaders have a co-ordinator who makes sure that the work gets done, otherwise they get sucked down into fire-fighting. Let’s explore the key steps towards being a good co-ordinator.

Clarity

Clarity is crucial if you are going to play the role successfully. Start by clarifying:

The team’s goals and the strategy for achieving these goals.

The leader’s role in working to achieve the goals. It is vital they play to their strengths.

The role the leader wants you to play as the co-ordinator in helping the team to reach the goals. This should include guidelines regarding the overall Dos and Don’ts they would like you to follow when working with them and the team.

The team members’ roles in working to achieving the goals.

Good leaders ensure that everybody in the team is clear on the team’s goals. You can continue to keep people’s eyes on this picture of success.

Such leaders also ensure that everybody in the team is clear on your role. You can ensure that people know how you can help them and the team to succeed.

Credibility is also crucial, especially in the eyes of the team members. Good co-ordinators often gain credibility by doing the following things.

They show respect to the team members and their knowledge, but they are not intimidated.

They show they want to support people, rather than become a hindrance.

They show they can deliver by getting some early successes – such as getting resources, removing obstacles or producing quick visible results.

Imagine a situation where you want to act as a co-ordinator. Try tackling this exercise on the theme of clarity. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to ensure people in the team are clear on the team’s goals.

Describe the specific things you can do to ensure people are clear on the leader’s role, your role and their roles in working to achieve the team’s goals.

Describe the specific things you can do to ensure people are clear on the role you will play to help and also co-ordinate everybody’s efforts to achieve the team’s goals.

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Co-ordination

Good co-ordinators aim to channel people’s efforts towards achieving the team’s goals. They keep asking some of the following questions.

“What are the real results we want to achieve? What is the picture of success?

“What are each person’s strengths? What are the activities in which they deliver As, rather than Bs or Cs?

“How can I co-ordinate people’s strengths – the activities in which they each deliver As – to achieve the team’s goals?

“What are the remaining practical tasks that are left over? How can I find ways to ensure these tasks get completed?

“How can I make clear contracts about each person’s contribution towards achieving the goals? How can I ensure they have the support they require to achieve success?

“How can I ensure people will proactively keep me informed about the progress towards achieving the goals?”

Good co-ordinators then make things happen. They are like sheepdogs and ensure people work towards the agreed picture of success.

They are especially good with knowledge workers who may fall into following their own agendas. Approaching such a person who may have gone a bit wayward, they say things like:

“How are things going? Remember the agreed picture of success. Is that something you still want to contribute towards achieving?

“If so, can you get back to me as to how you would like to continue contributing towards achieving the goals? Then I will provide the support you need. Can you get back to me within the next day?”

Like sheepdogs, they are friendly, but sometimes bare their teeth. They get away with it because the team members respect them and also know they can be tough.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to co-ordinate people’s strengths to ensure they each make their best contributions towards achieving the goals.

Describe the specific things you can do to ensure that the remaining practical tasks that are left over are completed successfully.

Describe the specific things you can do to make clear contracts with people about their contributions.

The contracts will also include the support they require to do the job and how they will proactively keep you informed about their progress towards achieving the goals.

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Concrete Results

Good co-ordinators get some early wins, rather than embark on long process analyses. Success breeds success. It also buys time to tackle the more long-standing challenges.

They keep in touch with the leader and see their role as being proactive, rather than that of being a glorified progress chaser.

They have regular meetings with the leader to look ahead to the next week, the next month and the next quarter. They clarify the challenges facing the team and agree on the potential solutions.

Good co-ordinators ensure that people proactively keep them informed about their progress towards achieving the goals. They set up sessions where people continually report on the following themes.

The specific things I/We have delivered in the
past month towards achieving the goals are:

*

*

*

The specific things I/We aim to deliver in the
next month towards achieving the goals are:

*

*

*

The specific other topics I/We would like to highlight – such as
positive suggestions, solutions, challenges and any other issues
– that are relevant in terms of working towards the goals are:

*

*

*

Good leaders and co-ordinators get their act together. They know that clarity is the starting point for any venture. But co-ordination is the bridge to producing concrete results.

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“I did not understand the role of co-ordinator when it was first mentioned to me,” said one leader.

“Looking back at my earlier career, however, I realised my best work had been when I had someone who made things happen.

“They are now the first person I look for when taking over a new team. A good co-ordinator is worth their weight in gold.”

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. Imagine you are a co-ordinator for a team. This exercise invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to keep in touch with the leader, proactively look ahead to the things that will be happening and find solutions to potential challenges.

Describe the specific things you can do to ensure that people keep informing you about their progress towards achieving the goals.

Describe the specific things you can do to do your best to ensure the team achieves its goals.

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