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Converting your teams into winners

Use coaching if you want to get results, advises Tony Swift.

As in the world of rugby, only the best teams come out on top in business. Good results – and ultimately, survival – are all about getting the right people on the coach, in the right frame of mind to win.

Construction companies are simply groups of individuals with specialist skills. If the players work together effectively, what they achieve as an integrated team is more likely to be greater than the sum of each individual talent.

As some rugby teams know only too well, that’s easier said than done. Yet there are a number of tactics you can implement to improve the overall performance of your team.

Select the right people

When you have the opportunity to add new people grab the opportunity to take a fresh look at your players to identify the skill sets you really need.

Look to achieve a balance of temperaments and skills, and plug any gaps in capability arising from new market expectations or legislation. For example, the dramatic shift in focus on sustainable developments in recent months presents opportunities for forward-thinking team managers.

Don’t be intimidated by candidates who are ambitious or hungry to learn. As they say, the best way to judge a good manager is to look at the calibre of the people on their team.

Everyone can benefit from constructive advice, training and coaching, yet it is so often overlooked in this industry. We wouldn’t expect our best athletes to arrive on the pitch without adequate training, coaching and preparation in the lead up to the event. Why would we ask our employees to do the same?

Performance management is about identifying areas for improvement at an individual level, which could have a positive impact on the team as a whole. First, ensure your employee appraisal process is robust and timely, to identify qualities which can be nurtured.

Then establish a process to develop these skills through effective training and coaching. You could develop a programme of internal mentoring, where experienced professionals act as a sounding board for younger members of staff. If the desired skills do not exist within your business, explore external training options.

It pays to remember that scientists, engineers and construction professionals excel in facts, figures and practical application. Put simply, we tend to take things literally, and prefer tangible proof points to theoretical examples.

Articulate your point

To communicate the results and best practice you expect from your team, stick to the facts. Use real-world examples to articulate your point, either from within your own business or beyond. Case studies which illustrate precisely how the results of the work achieved the original project objectives are particularly effective.

Whether you value punctuality, ingenuity, commitment or accuracy, pausing to share best practice and recognise successes internally and externally can help to boost team motivation and pride, as well as valuable shared understanding.

Tony Swift, an ex-England and Bath rugby player, is now a strategic business consultant for Peter Brett Associates