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Russell Team Assimilation on a jobsite

Harnessing the Power of Professional coaching to Support team member success


At Russell, professional coaching is a resource that is deeply connected to our core value of Appreciating People. Our team members are the driving force behind our success which means that investing in their development and wellbeing is vital. The construction industry can be dynamic, demanding, and sometimes isolating. Coaching plays a pivotal role in ensuring our team members feel valued, supported, and motivated to excel. 


Professional coaching was a new tool in the talent development toolbox, and construction industry, when Judy Wagschal joined Russell in 2015. Judy, who at the time was an independent coach at John Deere, was originally hired on contract to coach two high potential leaders. The goal was to help these individuals:

  • Work through roadblocks.
  • Develop stronger communication skills.
  • Help them navigate the unique challenges they faced in their work roles.

In their coaching sessions, they dove into their challenges and developed skills to become even stronger leaders – learning how to inspire others as individual contributors, engage and connect as a team, and drive team results through communication

After a successful start, Judy was invited to extend her contract, coaching more Russell team members in various roles with varied development needs.  Each year, the amount of time Judy spent as an internal coach steadily increased until she was officially hired on as the full-time­ ICF Professional Certified Coach in 2021.


Today, coaching at Russell is engrained into the way our teams operate. All team members are encouraged to connect with Judy to work through challenges ranging from communication breakdowns between teams or departments, to individualized development plans following 360 assessments.

In addition to one-on-one coaching, Judy leads kick-off meetings, called assimilations, for most project teams to connect prior to the start of a project. Often, these sessions are the first opportunity for a full team to gather in the same room. Assimilations condense months’ worth of getting to know each other into one 2.5-hour session. Judy utilizes each team member’s Top 5 CliftonStrengths to facilitate the conversation, creating team maps to show balance in regard to each domain of strengths (Executing, Strategic Thinking, Influencing, and Relationship Building). By the time they conclude, the team has:

  • Discussed roles.
  • Shared communication styles.
  • Set clear expectations.
  • Proactively worked through potential challenges.

Teams typically meet mid-project to identify areas that could be improved and debrief at the end of a project to work through breakthroughs / breakdowns and lessons learned.


1. Improves Team Member Confidence:

Through personalized coaching sessions, team members are empowered to recognize their strengths, identify areas of improvement, and develop new skills. Judy helps team members tap into their potential and believe in themselves. Allowing them to gain the confidence to take on challenges, make decisions, and contribute their best to the team.

2. Improve Retention and Engagement

Coaching, in addition to Russell’s robust onboarding program, has had a significant impact on team member retention and engagement. In fact, our retention rate has increased from 70% in 2018 to over 92% in 2022. By providing a supportive environment and personalized guidance, coaching helps team members feel valued, heard, and invested in their work. When individuals receive the attention and support they need to thrive, they are more likely to stay with Russell and actively engage in their roles, leading to a boost in overall satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Increase Effectiveness of Leaders:

Leadership plays a critical role in the success of any construction project, and professional coaching has a direct impact on improving leadership effectiveness. Coaching allows leaders to gain valuable insights into their strengths and areas for development. They receive guidance on how to communicate effectively, build strong relationships with their team members, and make sound decisions. As leaders grow and develop through coaching, their effectiveness and ability to drive projects forward are significantly enhanced.

4. Activate Communication Between Team Members:

Effective communication is the backbone of successful construction projects. Professional coaching helps to identify and address communication breakdowns between team members. Whether it’s resolving conflicts, clarifying misunderstandings, or improving collaboration, coaching provides a platform for open and honest conversations. Judy’s expertise in facilitating communication helps to restore trust, build stronger relationships, and create a more harmonious and productive work environment.

5. Connect Team Members to Russell’s Culture: 

In our fast-paced and demanding industry, it’s crucial for team members to feel connected to Russell’s culture. Professional coaching creates opportunities for team members to reflect on their values, align with Russell’s mission, and understand their roles within the larger organizational context. Team members gain a deeper appreciation for the company’s culture, values, and goals, fostering a sense of belonging and pride in their work.

Here’s What Our Team Members Have to Say: