Are your teams not performing as well as they could?

| April 10, 2012

Franziska Goyo believes it is important to look at what holds people back rather than motivating them to get there.

The CEO of a retail franchise called me and said to me, “I want my team to be more effective in selling. Some of them are really great, but some of them, even though they had the best sales training and success coaching they still don’t perform the way they could.”

I asked her what her previous coaching involved and it became clear that it was performance based coaching, motivating people to perform better, but did not address the underlying issues of mal performance of the individuals nor of the organisation as a whole. It is like trying to get rid of a weed by cutting it without digging out the root. First it looks as though the weed is gone, but only a few weeks later it is back and has even multiplied.

Like a good doctor, who examines the patient to find the real cause for the disease and eradicating it at the root level instead of treating the symptom with antibiotics, I believe in process-oriented coaching, which examines the script of the organisation first.

The script is the invisible (unconscious) driving force of the company – it includes the beliefs, the feelings and the actions of the organisation. The script is the root of all mal performance.

The investigation

When I started working with the CEO, she reported an extreme difference in performance levels of the sales people. There was an over average of ‘highachievers’ and ‘low-performers’. As in most companies high performance was rewarded and low performance seen as the problem that needs fixing (theantibiotic approach).

Instead of treating the ‘problem people’ with a ‘motivational antibiotic’ I asked the CEO, if she was willing to go to the root level of her own personal script and examine if this was influential to the script of her organisation. I pointed out that her unconscious driving force including her beliefs, her feelings and her actions could be part of the cause for the mal performance of her team. For many leaders this is too much of a daunting undertaking as it can hurt their ego and would force them to change. Instead many chose a coach to ‘fix’ their team instead, which usually does not create lasting change.

Once a leader undertakes this in-depth level of coaching the rewards are usually great and liberating. Lasting improvement happens on all levels of the organisation and overall performance levels increase.

The CEO herself was a high achiever and strongly performance driven. Westarted the process by investigating her ego-states. The term ego-states refers to states of mind and was discovered by the psychiatrist Eric Berne. There are three ego-states (states of mind) we can operate from, the CHILD, the ADULT and the PARENT – critical or supportive.

This method in the beginning of the coaching process reveals that which really drives or hinders all performance.

The real problem

The CEO found that her CHILD ego-state was very fearful of failure and of being poor. Most of her identity was based on how successful she was.So how did this affect the team’s performance?

Psychologists say that our children are not influenced by what we say, but by what we think, feel and consequently act out. This is most often unconscious.Teams are on one level like children, they act out the leader’s script.

Unconsciously the CEO projected her belief and self-pressure – “I am only good enough, if I achieve highest marks” onto her whole team, “You are only good enough, if you achieve highest marks”.

The ‘high achievers’ of her team carried the same or a similar script as their boss. Outwardly they were functioning well, they brought in most of the sales. But they were running on Adrenalin so to speak; each sale gave them another high. They had difficulties to switch of and relax. Relaxation would bring up their underlying fear and anxiety. When this remains not addressed health issues either physical or psychological occur. This type of unhealthy fear-based drive is not sustainable in the long-term.

A significant number of them also had difficulties in their personal relationships, like the CEO herself. The ‘low-performers’ acted out the other side of the performance pressure – depression and resentment and resisted any training.

The solution

Process oriented coaching allowed the CEO to become aware of her script and what was really going on underneath the mal-performance of her team members. As the process continues, the script can be healed, and healthier, more balanced performance arises as a result of it in the whole company.

The moment the CEO fully came into awareness of her script she was able to relax and trust herself more and change her leadership approach. Consequently the team’s attitude changed. The low performers became happier, opened up to new learning and were able to see new opportunities that lead to more sales. The ‘high achievers’ became able to relax more and replenish their batteries.

Franziska Goyo, executive director of Goyo International, is an organisational consultant and author of the book “Push My Buttons, Baby!” – Black Belt of the Emotional Arts. – Unleash Your Charisma and Create the Best Relationships Ever. Goyo provides organisational development, professional supervision and executive coaching. She helps teams and individuals develop clarity, congruence, cohesion and the strength to follow through and achieve growth and success.