Strengths Tools to Enhance Team Coaching
In team coaching, the key challenge is to not only understand what makes a good team but be able to apply that understanding to each team, helping it to become the best version of itself.
With many different Cascade resources available to help you enhance the CliftonStrengths® assessment, we’ve compiled this practical guide to the best team coaching tools. Discover the ideal options to use for guiding coaching conversations, increasing collaboration, improving team performance and more.
Team Coaching Topics
- Increasing Team Collaboration and Performance
- The Strengths of the Team
- Team Leaders and Managers
- Practical Resources for Strengths Workshops
- Promote your Business for Team Coaching
Increasing Team Collaboration and Performance
A highly productive and effective team is one where members work interpedently with each other. Without this, it’s just a collection of people doing their own thing. So by creating a common mission for the team, you can help them find alignment and a shared sense of togetherness. When they understand each other, acceptance and trust develops – and by enabling each person to give their best, the team can build commitment and accountability.
Creating a Team Mission Statement
A team mission statement sets the collective purpose and focus for the team. With a common purpose, each person can use their talents in alignment with their colleagues. To help team members appreciate their collective identity, look at the top 5 most dominant CliftonStrengths® themes of the team and use these to create the statement:
- Cascade’s Team Summary report shows the top 5 themes for a team at the bottom of the page. The text beside these themes describe what the team as a whole brings, what it needs and how it is motivated. Use this text as the starting basis for the team’s mission statement.
- In Cascade’s Theme Table, create a ‘person’ with the top 5 themes of the team. Then look at the Personal Insights or Brings and Needs report to see more words that are representative of the team. Use these to develop the mission statement further into a unique and powerful document the whole team understands and supports.
Helping a team create a clear identity based on their shared strengths and values enables them to appreciate and build on their collective potential.
Diversity and Inclusion
At the bottom of the Team Summary report you’ll find the top 5 themes for the team. These are the most common themes across all team members. Usually most individuals will have at least one of these themes in their own top 5.
But what happens when a team member does not have any of them in their own top 5? They may feel excluded or on the edge of the team because it seems like they’re different to everyone else. How can you develop appreciation and trust across the team so these individuals feel included with their uniqueness?
The Diversity and Inclusion exercise comes in two parts. First, consider that when an individual has different themes to other team members, they bring something unique. This is where they can excel and provide something special. The diversity their themes bring provides a fresh perspective to enhance the overall effectiveness of the team.
Look also at the Team Grid. Below each theme name is the count of how many times that theme is present in the team. The blue highlighted cells showing a number 1, indicate that only one person in the team has that specific theme. Work with these people and their unique themes to explore how they see things differently. What new insights can they bring to the team?
The second part is for the team to appreciate the special qualities of the individual. By listening to and valuing the different perspective, the team can proactively seek and welcome their contribution. As this member plays their part and finds they are appreciated, they will feel more included in the team. Enabling each person to feel fully part of the team will increase engagement and improve overall team performance.
The Best of Us
All team coaching sessions should include Gallup’s worksheet The Best of Us as it creates an understanding how each person works best. It’s an excellent exercise for a person to understand themselves better and for others to get to know that person. In a team, sharing the results of The Best of Us worksheets enables members to deepen their working relationships.
Here are some tips to help complete the four quadrants of the worksheet:
- You get the best of me when … and You get the worst of me when … get team members to think about the environments and situations when they thrive versus get frustrated. The Motivators and Demotivators sections of the Personal Insights report will provide extra ideas.
- You can count on me to … suggest each person comes up with practical real-life examples by building on the Contributions column of their Brings and Needs report.
- This is what I need from you … ask the team members to provide their colleagues with clear guidance on the Needs of their specific themes by using the Brings and Needs report.
Help each person find out how they can make a difference to the team. In the Team Grid, identify any themes which are only represented by one person (the blue 1’s in the Totals bar). Explore the contributions of these themes, and others in the top 5/10, by using the Brings and Needs report to see what they can offer the team. Let the rest of the team appreciate their contributions and support them with their needs. Many coaches encourage staff to share their Brings and Needs report with their colleagues.
Finding a Role within the Team
Also, how does each person contribute to the dynamics of the team? Help each team member identify their special role to enhance the team. This is not about their technical abilities, skills or experience; it’s about the use of their Strengths.
For example, someone with Futuristic® or Strategic® can help the team plan the road ahead. A person with Maximizer® can monitor the quality of the work and efficiency of the team’s processes. Someone with Empathy® can reflect the mood of the team. A person with Achiever® or Responsibility® can make sure that agreed actions are delivered on time.
In Cascade, the Team Roles worksheet looks at the top 5 themes for each team member. The Team Role column is for the functional role they hold in the team, based on their skills. The Team Contribution column considers their strengths and how they enhance the operations of the team. Refer to the Brings and Needs report for ideas on how a person’s themes can enhance the team.
When two people don’t get along, it creates tension in the team and reduces overall performance. Managing the conflict effectively will help these two people collaborate better and increase the productivity of the team. The Power of 2 worksheet provides a way to open up the conversation and allow both individuals to appreciate the other person’s perspective.
Moving through Conflict Quickly
Watch the short video where Amy Fredricks describes how she uses Cascade’s Power of 2 worksheet to manage conflict. She describes the impact of conflict beforehand and the benefits afterwards.
They say “one person’s rubbish is another’s treasure“. A theme at the bottom of the list for one person may be at the top for another. So identifying these connections will help to create complementary partners.
Finding the right partner as part of a team coaching session can be tricky. Fortunately, Cascade’s All 34 Report can help. It shows all the 34 themes for up to six people on a single page. Select one person with the radio button at the top of the page, then click on the blue Bottom 5 button. That person’s bottom 5 themes are then identified within the theme column of everyone else on the page.
When two people work together, they may get along just fine. However by taking it up to the next level, you can create a powerful partnership where they proactively bounce off each other’s strengths. The Power of 2 worksheet will help any two people working together to combine their strengths in an exponential way.
Select the two people in the Power of 2 worksheet and facilitate a conversation between them. Think about how a strength from one person can be amplified by a strength from the other. For example, one person with Analytical® may be able to interpret patterns in a set of data. Then the other person with Communication® can create a compelling message explaining the data patterns for others to easily understand.
Some coaches set up a Speed Dating activity where participants compare their top 5 themes to see which ones can work well together. They then find an example of a task when they can put this into practice. This creates opportunities for powerful partnership with a practical application.
Team Collaboration with Strengths
When individuals play to their strengths in collaboration with their colleagues, great things happen.
As part of your team coaching, help each person explore how they can use their strengths intentionally for different situations. The Strengths Advantage worksheets in Cascade help facilitate these conversations. In a team conversation, members often help to draw out the strengths of their colleagues, increasing collaboration.
Choose from 20 different topics, covering areas such as Productivity, Leadership, Performance, Project Management and Well-being.
Here are some suggestions of specific worksheets to use with team coaching:
Consulting with Change Management guru Charlotte Blair, we created the Strengths Advantage Change Management worksheet. It identifies the different stages of a change and helps each person in a team to constructively apply their strengths throughout the change process.
Whichever project management methodology is in use, there are generally four stages. The worksheet for the Project Management topic helps each person in a team appreciate the advantages of their strengths at each stage. Help team members draw on the strengths of their colleagues during the project management cycle.
Some staff may find it challenging to contribute effectively to all the Agile ceremonies in the sprint. Working with Emma Sharrock, the Agile Projects topic helps staff to identify new ways they can increase their involvement in each of the ceremonies. Look for opportunities to combine the strengths of two colleagues for greater effectiveness. Use the worksheet in a team coaching session to draw out the best qualities from each person.
The Strengths of the Team
It is tempting to dive straight into the Team Grid in the first team coaching session. However, those not familiar with the grid will focus on their row of themes and notice what’s missing, without looking at the bigger picture. So first, look at the four Domains of Leadership and how they contribute to a team.
Four Domains of Leadership
Introduce the four Domains of Leadership and how they operate, before revealing the distributions of themes across the Domains in the Team Grid. For more background, read our article on the Four Leadership Domains. It discusses the contributions of the Domains and how they interact with each other.
In Cascade we show the Strategic Thinking domain before Executing to encourage teams to think about What they are going to do before working out How they are going to do it. If you prefer to use an alphabetical Domain Order (like Gallup), you can change this using the Domain Order button on the Team Grid page.
A better introduction for the strengths of a team could be the Team Summary. It shows the collective strengths, without the strengths detailed for each individual. As a result, it can represent very large teams with several hundred people.
Sometimes you have the luxury to choose people for a team and can therefore create a balance across the four domains. In reality, it’s more likely that you’re presented with a team and need to work with the existing members. You might also find that in teams where a manager has recruited members, those individuals have lots of themes in common with the manager. This causes a very unbalanced team.
Whatever the team balance looks like, the important factor is to help the team understand any imbalance and its effect. A dominance of one domain, or the lack of another, can have a big impact on how the team operates and makes decisions. Help the team find ways to dial down some aspects and pay more attention to others.
A good chart to help teams appreciate the distribution of their themes is the Spark chart in the Team Summary report. The Pie Chart in the report also shows the balance of themes across the domains.
Forming a New Team
Any team that starts from scratch, or undergoes major change, goes through Tuckman’s model of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. In the Strengths Advantage section of Cascade, there is a worksheet called Creating a New Team. It helps team members explore how they can best use their strengths for each stage of Tuckman’s model.
When new members join an existing team, Gallup’s The Best of Us worksheet quickly helps them explain to their colleagues how they work best and can contribute to the team. You might also suggest that they share their Brings and Needs report if that’s already established in the team culture, but make sure new team members get to see everyone else’s report too.
Bringing two teams together can be a case of combining two different cultures and ways of working. Help each team understand their own culture and that of the other team. One way to visually demonstrate the dynamics of two teams is again in the Team Summary report. Create a report for each team separately and another report of the combined team. Compare the reports in a discussion to help manage expectations and establish ways of working together.
Florence’s Team Coaching Tips
In team coaching I encourage staff to display their Brings and Needs reports on the wall for all to see and recognize each other’s strengths.
The Team Summary report helps to channel conversations about the team’s collective strengths, before looking at the Team Grid.
I also like, the Team Profiles sheet. it’s a good “memory keeper” for everyone on the team.
Florence Hardy – Paris, France
Team Leaders and Managers
New Team Manager
When a manager starts working with a new team, coaching them to bring out the best of their staff will increase overall team performance. It can take a while for the manager to understand the nature of the team and its members. Creating a Team Summary report for the team members (excluding the manager) will reveal the strengths of the team. Looking at the team contributions, what the team needs and how it is motivated, will then show the manager how to guide the team. It can also act as a discussion topic on how the team best operates.
Team Motivation – Tips for the Team Leader
I like the Team Summary Report, in particular the Team Top 5 portion with “what we need as a team” and “what we are motivated by as a team”. This can be particularly helpful if the team leader brings different strengths to the group as it provides the leader with information to understand what energizes the group as a whole.
For example: a team leader may not be all that interested in staff events, but the team is high in relationship building and loves the potlucks, team breakfasts, holiday celebrations. This can help the team leader see that while they themselves don’t enjoy them, the team does.
Kathy Yates – Colorado, US
Bringing out the Best from Staff
A piece of gold dust for the manager is the Brings and Needs report for each staff member. It helps the manager understand what each person needs to deliver their best.
By discussing the report in a 1:1 session, the manager and team member can explore together what each theme contributes and requires – and then adapt roles, tasks and responsibilities accordingly.
By creating the right environment for each person to thrive, the manager will be rewarded with increased performance and productivity from their employees.
Another piece of gold dust is Gallup’s The Best of Me for each team member. Again, the manager can discuss this in a 1:1 session to help the team member feel understood and appreciated.
Multiple Teams with Executives and Managers
Working with different levels of management teams can sometimes reveal areas of friction or frustration. Creating a Team Summary report for both teams may identify the cause.
For example, there may be a high presence of the Strategic Thinking domain in the Senior Leadership Team and lots of Executing themes in the Line Management team. Respecting the themes in each team will enable the Senior Leadership Team to decide on what to do, leaving the Line Management team to work out how best to do it.
Comparing the Team Summary reports for teams working close together, or reporting to the same manager, helps to identify the differences between each team.
Practical Resources for Workshops
Cascade is designed by Strengths coaches, for Strengths coaches. The tools and resources help to make your life as a coach easier. Here are just a few ideas and examples that can take your business offering to an extra level:
Table Name Tents
Add a personal touch to your workshop with a Table Tents for each person.
The Name Tents in Cascade can show the top 5 or top 10 themes and the domain pie chart. You can also add your own logo.
They are very easy to produce, just like the other Cascade reports, and will help your session get off to a great start.
Gifts for the Team
Giving each person in your workshop a special gift is another easy way to add value to your session. It also helps the conversations to continue within the team long after.
Personal Strengths Bookmarks
When working with a group I give each person a laminated bookmark with their own list of 34 CliftonStrengths® themes. I encourage them to keep it handy for personal reference, suggesting they take it to meetings, placing it on the table for others to see. I also give the manager an entire set of bookmarks to use as a quick reference for conversations or when creating complementary partners.
Use the ‘All 34’ report in Cascade to create the bookmarks. Simply cut the report into strips for each person. The backing of each person’s bookmark indicates the color of their lead domain.
I find it’s a great tool to keep individuals, groups and coaches engaging with one another’s themes during daily tasks. It’s also a fun little takeaway gift to share after a training session.
Katie Christensen in Minnesota, USA
Tip from a Maximizer®: Add your logo and contact details to the back of the bookmark!
Create Individual Reports for a Whole Team
In Cascade we’ve made it easy to create individual reports for each person in a team or workshop. If there are 20 people in your session, you don’t have to press “Print” 20 times. Here’s how to easily create a set of reports for everyone on your workshop.
- Select the people for the session in the Team Grid.
- Prepare the individual reports for the number of themes to show and any report settings.
- In the Menu, select Print reports for – Whole Team.
- Click on the Print or PDF button for an individual report.
Make your own Strengths Power Pack
Team Strengths Coach Antonia Milkop creates what she calls a Strengths Power Pack. Using a branded folder for her coaching practice, she fills it with the Cascade reports for each delegate.
You could also include the Gallup reports and worksheets, making it a valuable take home gift from the workshop.
Strengths Power Pack
The Power Pack really helps them to understand the bigger picture in an easy (colorful) way. It enhances their understanding of Strengths, so when I tell them to use their Cascade materials to help complete their worksheets, it’s easy to find the words. Cascade is truly the bells and whistles… coaching and team training to the next level.
The standard Strengths Power Pack contains the Cascade reports: Personal Insight, My 34, Brings & Needs, Name Tent and the Team Summary.
Afterwards, I pick a worksheet to send (like Rhythm of Motivation) afterwards. A gentle reminder to continue the work and not put the information away in a drawer.
Promote your Business for Team Coaching
The Strengths coaching tools in Cascade are not limited to your clients, you can use them for yourself too. They can help you gain new business and prepare for coaching sessions.
Approaching a new organisation for team coaching can be daunting. So why not prepare some example Cascade reports to show them what you can produce for their teams? Perhaps an example Strengths Power Pack? Even better if you can find out their themes in advance and give them a personalised report. The visual reports work best, such as the Team Grid, Team Summary, Brings and Needs and My 34.
After four decades of research, Gallup developed the StrengthsFinder® assessment to identify innate themes of talent. Investing in talents through coaching builds Strengths. Over 25 million people have taken the StrengthsFinder® assessment which is now called CliftonStrengths®. More information about the 34 themes of talent are available from Gallup®
Cascade Strengths Reports
The Cascade Strengths reports are the creation of Releasing Strengths to enhance the Gallup reports. Coaches in over 60 countries benefit from the Cascade tool to deliver Strengths coaching with CliftonStrengths®. Releasing Strengths is based in the UK and was the first Licensed Partner with Gallup for a digital product.