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Comments are closed. Focuson your inner game, says former Harvard tennis captain Tim Gallwey as he servesup his team-building ideas to Patrick McCurryWhat has tennis got to do with teamworking in organisations, achievingcultural change and improving management coaching? A great deal, according to Tim Gallwey, a US teambuilding expert visitingthe Industrial Society’s School of Coaching this month. The core of Gallwey’s approach is what he calls ‘the inner game’, the ideathat whatever outer goal you are trying to achieve there is always an innergame being played in your mind. “How aware you are of this inner game canmake the difference between success and failure in the outer game,” hesays. His ideas were first presented in a sports coaching book, The Inner Game ofTennis, published in the 1970s and based on his experience as captain ofHarvard University’s tennis team. “The publisher thought it would sell a few thousand copies, but itended up on the bestseller lists because corporate managers realised the ideason tennis coaching could be used by companies to help people learn andchange.” Companies such as IBM, AT&T, Apple Computer and Coca-Cola picked up onthe approach to help achieve cultural and behavioural change among theiremployees. Gallwey says the philosophy centres on helping individuals becomemore aware of their behaviour, in a non-judgmental way, before expecting themto change. “It’s like learning to improve your backhand,” he says. “Theindividual must first become aware of where they are now before they can setgoals for the future. Change happens best from the inside out, not when it’simposed by someone else.” The job of the coach in an organisation is to help staff become more awareof their current behaviour, but without judging that behaviour as ‘bad’, and tohelp them overcome the inner doubts or self-limiting views that prevent themchanging. But it is about helping the individual gain the awareness, confidenceand desire to change and not about imposing a set of behaviour, says Gallwey. “If a coach or manager tries to force or manipulate staff to behave ina certain pre-conceived way there will always be resistance. People have to seefor themselves the benefits of change.” In recent years he has been developing these ideas for teamworking in theconsultancy IGEOS, which he co-founded with Valerio Pescotto, an expert ingroup dynamics. After speaking at a one-day coaching conference at theIndustrial Society this month, Gallwey and Pescotto will return in May to run afive-day team training course. Habitual behaviour Traditionally there are two approaches to teambuilding, says Gallwey. First,the academic route in which managers decide what behaviour they are seeking and‘teach’ them to teams. The other is the experiential route, such as raftbuilding, in which teams are encouraged to bond and work together on a specificproject. But neither really tackles the habitual behaviour of team members, arguesGallwey. He uses simulations in which the team is set a task and then observed.”They’ll set about it in their habitual way and the usual problems surface,such as not listening to each other, splitting off into sub-groups, not takingrisks and so on. “As they get more frustrated they become more willing tolook at their behaviour in a non-judgmental way.” At this point the observers help the team flesh out principles that willimprove the team, such as genuinely listening to colleagues and expressingtheir own views clearly. “We often see dramatic changes,” says Gallwey: “For example,at the outset team members will usually speak for up to 50-60 seconds onaverage, but by the end that falls to perhaps 10 seconds, which shows they arenow thinking about what they want to communicate and doing it clearly.” Other key elements of the teambuilding include encouraging team members totake responsibility for decisions and not blaming others, he says. “Thesimulations help teams become more aware and ongoing coaching helps themmaintain this at work.” It is easy to interest companies in these ideas, says Gallwey, but muchharder to get them to put the ideas into practice because they are challengingdeeply ingrained habits and behaviour patterns. IGEOS is currently working with a large UK multinational, which Gallwey willnot name, but he is excited about the new links with the Industrial Society:”It is passionate about changing the quality of work in the UK.” But in today’s semi-recessionary environment, it is very tempting forcompanies in the UK and globally to take a “command and control”stance and try to impose top-down change. But such an approach is likely tofail in the long run, argues Gallwey. “When companies or individuals are under a lot of pressure that’s oftenwhen the worst comes out in teams and people find it hard to worktogether.” Some companies will respond to increased business pressures by cuttingtraining and coaching, but others will take a more enlightened view, he says:”They realise that it is in the difficult times that they really need tomake a difference in the way their teams work together.” Top tips for teambuildingMake a serious personal commitment tothe development of staff that report to you directly and develop your owncoaching skillsRecognise that building effectiveteams is the critical variable to corporate successAssess your teams’ clarity of purposeand identify blocks to effectivenessIdentify the cultural and systemicobstacles to learning and coaching Back to baselineOn 1 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.