Leadership coaches work with small groups to help assess team strengths and opportunities for growth.
Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Functioning as a high performing team doesn't just happen. In every team, there are different perspectives, agendas, and roles. Team coaching, offered through Organizational Effectiveness (OE) – a unit of University Human Resources (UHR) – supports teams by helping individuals get on the same page through a highly interactive process that unleashes the collective power of the group.

Jennifer Blackhurst, associate dean for graduate programs at the Tippie College of Business, saw an opportunity within her leadership team to take their performance and collaboration to the next level.

"The coaching was incredible because it brought us closer together and showed us what we are doing well," Blackhurst says. "But it also taught us we can do even better – allowing people to feel a stronger connection to the team and to one another – by focusing on the lessons learned from our coaching sessions."

Over the course of four sessions – three in person and one virtual – Blackhurst and her team met with leadership coaches Spencer Stumpf and Heidi Zahner-Younts from OE. Before starting team coaching, Blackhurst and Jill Tomkins, assistant dean of professional programs at Tippie, met with OE to discuss what they hoped to get from the coaching and where they wanted to improve. From there, OE took the lead scheduling sessions, developing a coaching program for the group, assigning short homework assignments, and guiding discussions.

Launching a team coaching program for leaders and teams across campus meets a Year 2 goal for UHR's Staff Success SPARC team.

Much of Blackhurst's team started working together shortly before or during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a hectic work environment with minimal in-person interaction.

"In one of the meetings a leader said, 'We have never all been in a room together.' That shocked me," Blackhurst says. "In the fall, some of our meetings will be in person because it meant so much to the group. Even our remote folks are eager to visit campus once in a while."

Now that the pandemic has subsided, Blackhurst saw an opportunity to bring the team together to "take time to listen to each other and develop a greater sense of trust and integration in the team."

"Just getting us together and speaking the same language and understanding how we can be better – that was incredibly helpful," she says. 

Through its team coaching program, OE strives for meaningful outcomes, including:

  • Create behaviors that strengthen trust and nurture collaboration
  • Work through conflicts and embrace differences
  • Nurture innovation and creativity
  • Drive alignment
  • Develop accountability
  • Overcome team roadblocks
  • Clarify team members' expectations of each other

"The coaches were amazing. I would highly recommend any team take part in coaching," Blackhurst says. "For me, a great takeaway was that a good team culture requires work and care and attention. I now feel like I'm better equipped to be able to do that."

Contact Organizational Effectiveness to learn more about team coaching or to start the intake process. Team coaching sessions are typically scheduled two months out to provide time for planning and calendar coordination.