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maximising performance

"The clever man will tell you what he knows; he may even try to explain it to you. The wise man encourages you to discover it for yourself, even though he knows it inside out. But since he seems to give you nothing, we have no need to reward him. Thus the wise have disappeared and we are left in a desolation of the clever."

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maximising  performance

ensuring change is sustained
building trust & engagement...

Coaching or Consulting

You’re faced with a challenged programme, the team has missed critical deadlines, speed of delivery is key, the change is complex with significant potential for conflict.  So what are the options open to you? 

Do you turn to a large well-known consultancy or is there another choice?  The large consultancy firms all have project and programme capability and will be able to produce numerous case studies of successfully delivered work in similar circumstances. They’ll have a tendency to rely on old-school, command and control style project management.  They’ll deploy large teams and before too long your business will be consultant-dependent.

However you may want to consider bringing in a coach who specialises in this kind of situation.  What are the relative merits of each approach and what consequences might you expect?


Two different approaches

1.      The textbook team

Consultants come in, they’re on the hook to deliver.  However, there are some impacts:

  • First of all there is the bill, which will more than likely be for a team, including people who will most of the key positions

  • The internal team will inevitably feel some degree of resentment, they are seen to have failed, friction is likely

  • The team is already beset by fear and doubt but it will also lead to tension and a further drop in confidence as the inability to deliver is publicised

  • Organisational esteem drops at the same time and the innate value of the internal team is sidelined with key roles being undertaken by newly appointed externals

  • Additional friction is caused as team members are pushed into working long hours to ensure delivery to a plan that has been put together by someone else

  • Knowledge transfer from external resources to internal becomes an additional overhead and retention of IP from the initiative becomes an issue

In the main most consultants are ‘tipsters’, their strength is in the analysis of where things can be improved but the recommendations do not take into account the progressions and necessary engagement of the incumbent team to get there. So often, replacement is seen as the remedy rather than improvement. If one is to create truly effective sustainable change it cannot be done by outsiders, or by command and control, it has to be done by those that will live with it, their engagement is necessary.


2.      The Coach approach

Coaching failing projects, or under-performing project teams, is about aligning team members to the change vision as part of improving performance.  While traditional consultancy methods focus on a transactional approach to addressing the output of the team, creating alignment through coaching enables the team to internalise the vision, builds more powerful engagement and thus creates a stronger focus on delivery, eliminating interference and building ownership and accountability around deliverables. Despite what may be seen as an exercise in the “softer skills”, the evidence is that the creation of more focused and productive teams delivers faster.  The process more effectively reinforces the principles of sound project delivery:

  • The team are part of the process developing the solution and hence have a sense of ownership and accountability

  • Clarity on the solution communicated to the team and all stakeholders, this ensures buy-in

  • Focus on value-add outcomes, make it worthwhile for the business to help the team succeed

  • Higher levels of engagement and real visibility of ownership and accountability

  • Improved confidence and performance from the incumbent team

Additionally and more importantly it leaves a sustainable legacy as a result of the noticeably more powerful engagement levels within the team.

There is, of course, a bill but this is much more manageable, the focus is on the improvement in performance of internal resources.  Use of coaches, practitioners skilled, not just in the people skills but as experts in their own right around project and programme recovery provides a dual benefit: mentors who understand the factors that impact the performance of people/teams, practitioners who have an intimate grasp and deep experience of project and programme management.

Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it...


on court performance specialises in working with teams and individuals in the context of change to continually enhance performance


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