What is Team Coaching?
Team coaching is the breath of fresh air needed in a market flooded with training, workshops and management love ins. Team coaching is an evidence-based approach to build internal capability by leveraging the talent within the team creating a culture of performance.
Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz who already possessed the power to succeed but did not know it. Teams need to learn this for themselves. This is the essence of great team coaching; the answer is on the inside.
Why do we need team coaching? More and more work has increased in complexity, and teams are required to make the outcomes a reality. Teams are now the way we work. Who wants to work in a dysfunctional one?
Firstly, what is a team? The research literature defines a team as: ‘A small number of people with complementary skills, who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach, for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.’ (Katzenbach and Smith 1999).
It is a team’s successful interdependence that enables it to deliver necessary outcomes and success. A team is greater than the sum of its parts. An aligned, collaborative high performing team is the secret recipe organisations want to find the ingredients for.
Teams are distinct from groups. Groups are a collection of people who share the same boss. In a group, the members are not reliant on each other for the outcome. Teams have a collective purpose; they need each other to make this a reality.
You cannot make a high performing team by putting people in the same room. Becoming a high performer is a journey that requires all the team members to be part of.
High performing teams are built by the hard work and commitment of their members. Top performing teams cannot be assembled. Like a great wine, they must go through a process of maturing to reach a point of being great.
Team coaching focuses on helping teams to understand and define their purpose and to improve the relationships between team members to be able to deliver on that purpose. Through the process of team coaching, team members develop insights about how the impact of their behaviour affects team performance.
These insights gained through the coaching process are used to create goals to develop more effective behaviours that will move the team forward.
Team coaching is about optimising the relationships between people to create a team culture of high performance.
What Does Team Coaching Involve?
Team coaching, like individual coaching, takes place within an environment of confidentiality and respect for those being coached. Coaching must be voluntary with team members opting in to participate in the process.
Initially, the coach will work with the team to understand what it is the team needs to achieve. The coach may use a team survey tool to collect anonymous feedback from the team to accelerate development.
Coaches usually work with teams of four to twelve team members. Team coaching sessions are 1.5 – 2 hours long. The frequency and duration of team coaching sessions is determined by the needs of the organisation and the team.
Coaches may sometimes combine individual coaching with team coaching, and this approach can be a great way to accelerate development.
What are the Goals of Team Coaching?
We know from the research literature that it is not that important who is on the team but how those team members interact with each other. Five key dynamics set successful teams apart from other teams.
Broadly team coaches work to improve these five dynamics: –
Psychological safety: Can members of the team take risks without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high-quality work on time?
Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans for our team clear?
Meaning of work: Are we working on something personally important for each of us?
Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we are doing matters?
(Source; Google Project Oxygen).
How Effective is Team Coaching?
The most significant barrier to high performance in teams is poor relationships between team members. Unspoken and unresolved conflicts that result in ongoing resent that members can hold for each other reduce collaboration, innovation, and productivity.
Team coaching is a highly effective way to enable teams to have courageous conversations that team members have avoided.
Team coaching acts as a tool to build internal capacity for team members to become self-sufficient in having courageous conversations with each other without the need for a coach. The key to team coaching’s effectiveness lies in its ability to create autonomy and capability within the team so that the team becomes self-sustaining.
What are the most significant differences between team and individual coaching?
Team coaching focuses on improving the relationships between team members to be able to deliver on the team’s purpose.
Individual coaching is focused on the development and exploration of the self to understand our behaviour and how others experience us and how this experience shapes their reactions and relationship with us.
Individual coaching requires an exploration of the self that would not be appropriate in a team coaching setting. For both individual and team coaching team, members need to know that their coach holds their confidentiality and psychological safety as paramount.
Ensuring you engage a professionally qualified coach to ensure these boundaries are never crossed is a critical factor in making any team coaching engagement a success.