How Do You Coach and Develop Your Team to Manage a Company Twice the Size?

By Patrick Thean

How do you grow and develop your team as your company grows? Are you grooming your people to play key leadership roles in a business twice the size of your current company? You should be. If your business is growing at 26%, you will double in 3 years. If you are growing at 15%, you will double in 5 years. Three to 5 years goes by really quickly. Before you know it, your company will be twice the size it is today, with twice the revenue and twice the people. And, if your leadership team is unable to manage a company 2X your size, you will have no choice but to replace them if you want to continue on your path of growth. Replacing folks who got you here is very tough. The journey changes. Your joy index changes. And your history and tribal knowledge walks out with them as well. It is never the first choice to change out your team. It is always the last choice, and it is thrust upon most company leaders because they did not take the time to grow and develop their team.  

What about you? To borrow some words from the hockey great, Wayne Gretsky, how do you coach your team to skate to where the puck is going to be? You need to be intentional and purposeful, otherwise it will not happen. Here is the dilemma we all face. Running the business today is about focusing on where the puck is now. It is easy for me to say you've got to skate to where the puck is going to be in 3 years, but it is really hard to do both. Unfortunately, it is not one or the other. It is one AND the other. You've got to do both.  

Here are 4 key actions you can take right now: 

  1. Set aside time to THINK about your organization and your People Plan. It is a process, not an event. It is also a marathon, not a sprint. Plan to spend an hour a week or a few hours each month. Set aside the time and get into a rhythm of thinking. 
  2. Start by envisioning your organization 3 to 5 years from now. You must begin with the end in mind. Gain clarity on the right organization and skills needed to succeed. Read about the 4 Steps to do that in my previous blog post - Is Your Team Building Skills to Manage a Company Twice the Size of Your Current Company?
  3. Assess your team members' probability of success. Test for 2 things: Desire and Ability. Coaching to help grow and develop your "A Players." This is where the hard work begins.
    1. Desire: Do they have the desire to make changes and grow themselves?
    2. Ability: Do they have the ability to learn new skills and change their methods as they learn more skills?

Gazelles Systems People Performance 

Dr. Stephen Covey once shared with me that to work with people, take the time to be effective, not efficient. Focus on the compass and understand what success means instead of focusing on the watch for efficiency. Coaching takes time. Results take time. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Take one step at a time and over the course of a few quarters, you will see the fruits of your coaching labor.  

Here are 4 Steps to help you get going with coaching:

  1. Develop a path of progress together that they own. This first step is also a test. Begin with the end in mind and build a plan together that fills in the gaps for both work skills and leadership skills. Agree on an action plan with a timeline. Use our Who What When format. Once this plan is developed, the person you are investing in must own the plan. The manager does not own the plan. The person being coached should own the plan. This is a good test of whether you should invest time and resources in growing your team member. If he or she does not have the desire or drive to own their own plan of development, that shows me that they lack desire. It is hard work that you are about to embark on. If they fail the Desire Test, game over.
  2. Set up a rhythm of monthly coaching and quarterly reviews. If you don't get into a rhythm, change and improvement will not happen. To get different results, you need a different process doing different things. Otherwise, you will just get the same results and no improvement in skills or leadership abilities. During the monthly coaching sessions, spend time discussing:
    Pair up with an Accountability Buddy. Each person should pair up with an accountability buddy. They should check in weekly and hold each other accountable to learn and practice their new work skills and leadership skills. Just a quick Yes/No, worked/did not work. The focus is accountability to use new skills, not problem solve or coaching. Accountability ensures that we take action weekly. If we do not take action weekly, change and improvement cannot happen. You don't need to coach each other.  Holding each other accountable to try new skills is the goal.
    • Work skills we are working on and how we have been practicing them
    • Leadership traits we are working on and what results have we seen
    • Open talk time about what's on his or her mind
  3. Keep a Weekly Journal. Every member of your team should keep a journal. Commit to writing only ONE SENTENCE in the journal at the end of each week to reflect on what you did and learned. You can always write more than one sentence, but you commit to writing at least one sentence every week.

Our People: Performance Coaching Tool can help you make a plan for completing the steps above and record action items from your coaching sessions.

FAQ:  Here are some questions that I get asked about this process. Please feel free to ask your questions or provide your insights by commenting on this blog post.

  1. Who does the coaching? Various options: 1) You can bring in an outside coach; 2) you can hire someone internally to provide coaching; I would not suggest for the person's direct manager to coach him or her. The person might not feel safe enough to share their true challenges and areas that they need to grow in with their direct managers.
  2. How do we go about building their work skills? Map the needs to courses and training. Also, ask who do you know that might be able to advise you on a specific skill area?
  3. How do I know if the person has the desire to work hard to skate to where the puck is going to be? The Desire Test. If they do not own their own path of progress, the person does not have enough desire for you to invest time and resources in coaching them.
  4. What about personality profiles? Do those help? Yes, they do. They help the person gain more self awareness. All good leaders continue to grow in self awareness everyday. So yes, they do help.
  5. What about using a 360 feedback process? Yes, these are good for helping you with growing leadership skills and abilities. They don't help for work skills.

 As always…. I would love to learn about your journey and how it may help others. Please share your experiences here as well. Thank you for reading.


Rhythm Systems People: Performance Coaching Tool

Rhythm Systems Business Blog Subscription

Patrick Thean


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images