Effective teams do not just happen. They are coached into existence. They are developed, nurtured, trained, coached, empowered, refined, and maintained. And they are rare. The truth is that most groups of people are hardly compatible as a group, let alone as a team. And most teams are not highly effective teams, but suffer many dysfunctions (lack of trust, lack of collaboration, commitment, openness, fear of conflict, inattention to results). And even highly effective teams do not tap into all of the potentials that are possible when people come together to work and play for a cause that the members share as important and meaningful.
So, what are the problems that prevent us from unleashing the potential power of an effective team? There’s lots of problems – which is the reason and context for needing a team coach. And yet they all boil down to one thing...
The quality and character of the relationships we experience as we connect, relate, think together, talk together, (communicate) and work together, (cooperate and collaborate).
In this blog I will describe what team coaching is, what team coaching looks like in action and I will discuss the many benefits of engaging in team coaching in an organisation.
Team coaching is used much more often now because it often can achieve more impact, more quickly and at lower cost. Team coaching leverages the untapped wisdom, support and networking among employees and peers. But what do we mean by “team coaching?”
The International Coach Federation has a definition for personal and professional coaching that is widely accepted:
Coaching is a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the client to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaches honour the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.
Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:
Therefore, team coaching is facilitating this same process with individuals to a specific agreed upon outcome within a team environment. Team coaching facilitates the personal development and growth of the individual, and the further development of the team through facilitating ruthlessly compassionate conversations in a team environment. This process promotes the individual’s participation, contribution, accountability and responsibility to the team, whilst observing and developing the team dynamics to facilitate emotionally intelligent and high performing teams.
There are many different ways in which team coaching can be facilitated. It can be quite structured in its approach, with particular topics or focus points for discussion. Or it can be very flexible, allowing what needs to arise in each moment to facilitate the teams highest and best. Most team coaching sessions are a mixture of both these approaches. Team coaching usually commences with more regular team coaching sessions to bring the team together and then less regular sessions as the team maintains their rapport and cohesion over time.
Team coaching can be short term for the duration of a project or longer term to bring about embodied cultural change. Often if a team is presenting many challenges, we would also recommend some individual coaching sessions between team sessions to support the individuals to develop in ways which will support them and the team moving forward.
Mostly these sessions are conducted face to face but can also be facilitated via Zoom. Some teams prefer these sessions to take place in their workplace and others prefer to go offsite to create a different environment for these sessions. Depending on the size of the team, you may also need more than one facilitator (usually more than 10).
Overtime teams who create a culture of coaching within their organisation and who start performing as high functioning teams, rarely need an external coach to assist them any further. This is the beauty of coaching. Overtime they become self-managing and self-coaching teams, and only call for external coaches if there is a particularly difficult challenge or if an individual on the team requests extra coaching.
Team coaching may not be valuable for all teams. If the team is already high functioning, then probably no need for a coach. Many organizations are turning to team coaching as a way to develop talent in their lower management ranks or even those who aspire to management but have yet to reach that level.
Team coaching is a great application for executive teams who want to maximise their potential, sales teams looking to increase revenue and wanting to stretch performance, a management team going through reorganization, or even a marketing team looking to set a new strategic course for a product or service. In team coaching, the coach serves multiple roles by providing support and coaching for the leader, keeping the coaching process in place for the team, holding the team accountable for results and communication, and ensuring that all team members are participating in the process.
The team benefits by experiencing each other being coached, sharing observations and offering challenges, and holding each other accountable for action. The coach serves as both coach and facilitator and must establish a climate of trust and confidentiality for each member of the team to maximize the benefit of this process.
The overall purpose of team coaching in organisations is to create highly effective teams within the business. What does this mean specifically? It can mean the development of many things that are required for a business to be effective, efficient, productive, profitable and healthy.
Team coaching is becoming more popular for a number of reasons. Team coaching can be more cost effective than individual coaching, promoting greater results for team outcomes. Our team coaching programs at Modo have proven to be time and cost-effective, which develop emotionally intelligent, high functioning and self-actualising teams.
Here are just some of the benefits of team coaching;
Individuals who engage in team coaching are far more likely to action agreed upon behaviours as they are accountable to the team.
You know what they say… two heads are better than one. Team coaching brings people together to identify and clarify complex problems and accesses the collective wisdom of the team to implement strategies to solve them.
If conflicts are left to fester, they can affect the dynamics of the team. Team coaching facilitates the resolution of conflicts in real time, using the collective wisdom of the team. The team then learns how to self-manage conflicts in the future.
Embodiment of Learning
When individuals experience each other being coached, these emotionally intelligent principals guide these highly effective ways of communicating and behaving, they start to learn how to self-coach. Team members actually get the opportunity to apply their learning in real time within the team coaching sessions. This allows team members to fully embody their learning.
The close engagement among members and their strong focus on helping each other can quickly form a close and confidential bond in which members come to rely on each other to achieve the goal of the team.
Because members completely count on each other, they feel free to share more than business cards, they share their needs, open and honest feedback, and useful and practical resources among each other.
Coaching has been proven to be a powerful means to cultivate change in people. Organizational change, including cultural change, requires change in people as well, this is facilitated by team coaching.
Engagement of Employees
We know that, unless a change effort has the complete buy-in, participation and commitment of employees, then the change effort is not likely to be successful. That engagement has to start with the employees being authentic, open, honest and direct about what they are experiencing. They need to feel listened to and respected. This can occur in team coaching.
Support for Employees
Research shows increasing burnout and cynicism among employees. Burnout is not necessarily caused by a person’s workload. It can be caused by the person’s perspective on their workload. Team coaching can clarify that perspective and what can be done about it.
Develop Core Leadership Skills
There are many skills that team members will develop, regardless of the purpose of the team. For example, they will build skills in presenting to a team, asking for and accepting help, listening, asking good questions, action planning and learning from reflection. An effective team will also cultivate authenticity, engagement and accountability among members. All of these skills are critical to good leadership.
Coaches will prompt the team members to reflect more often and experiment with changes in their own behaviours. They will start to observe themselves deeply and become aware of thinking patterns and behaviours that may not be serving them. This greatly improves individuals’ interpersonal skills.
If you would like to learn more about Modo’s team of skilled coaches and how we can assist you in developing a high performing team, contact us today and ask about our team coaching programs.
Tamara Pickard is an Executive Coach, Trainer and a Managing Director of Modo Coaching and Training, with many years of experience leading large organisations. Tamara is a certified Meta-Coach, Master NLP practitioner and experienced Enneagram facilitator, and her passion is to facilitate people to discover and actualise their highest potentials in their personal and professional lives.
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