Coaches working with managers and teams are often quickly attracted to the CliftonStrengths team grid, a visual representation of individuals' talent across the four domains of leadership. But simply showing a grid to a team can be unhelpful -- even damaging. The CliftonStrengths team grid is a tool to enhance your coaching. It can lead to important discoveries for individuals and teams. Maximizing this valuable tool requires some preparation -- simplified below in four easy-to-follow steps:
Why are we using the team strengths grid? What is the purpose of our time together? Whether it is onboarding new team members, facilitating conflict resolution, understanding the strengths of individual team members, setting clear performance expectations, or myriad other possibilities, understanding why is always Step 1 -- it allows coaches to articulate questions to guide conversations. How do you disagree? What is your process for onboarding new team members? What tasks are critical for the team's success moving forward?
What do we know about how the manager works? As a coach, pay attention to how the manager's strengths support their team's collaboration and growth. How do they encourage, influence and educate their team to meet objectives? How do they keep their team focused on goals and priorities? How do they solve problems? These are not only "good-to-know" strengths insights as coaches -- this information starts conversations that lead to "good-to-grow" team success. Understanding the manager lays the foundation for awareness of their team's dynamics.
What do we know about the team? First, there are almost always dominant themes on every team (e.g., a collective drive to do good work, sense of ownership, sense of partnership or critical thinking). Second, you will almost always find outliers whose contributions support the notion of "well-roundedness" -- the team's communicator, practical thinker, idea person, detailed individual, take-charge personality, energizer, etc. While a team rarely has everything, a coach can look at the group's landscape and see the value of dominant themes as well as individuals' unique contributions. Awareness of those unique team nuances helps coaches guide discussions. What does this team do best, and how can they effectively use less common strengths to advance the larger group's goals?
Now is the time to meet the team. You know the why; you understand the manager; you have given thought to the individuals on the team; and you understand dominant and unique contributions. Armed with all of that relevant information, come prepared with assumptions. Scribble down thought-provoking questions. Be confident about what you see as strengths and derailers. Be aware of the power of the team -- and then be prepared to be surprised. The coach's primary role in a team session is to stimulate conversation, challenge when needed, support as necessary and encourage celebration of the team's uniqueness. Remember to start with the why. If team members recognize why they have come together as they sit at the table and, more importantly, understand if the why was accomplished when they walk out the door, then you have succeeded as a coach. If you can end where you started, you will have successfully used the CliftonStrengths team grid.