Team coaching is a systematic process that enables a team to function as more than “the sum of its parts”, by clarifying its mission and improving its external and internal relationships.
Why Team Coaching?
Organisations need a different, more effective approach to team interventions to succeed in the 21st Century. Team coaching has been shown to be that new effective approach as it provides the foundation for optimal design and development of team context, conditions and processes – key enablers of effective teamwork. Furthermore, team coaching focuses on systematically increasing and maintaining the quality of engagement internally and externally, resulting in high performing teams.
Team Performance Diagram
Indeed, team coaching is a pivotal organisational development tool of successful Fortune 500 companies. These leading organisations understand that the era of stable, consistent and predictable roles, functions and competencies has been overtaken by a faster, technologically advanced, interconnected and inclusive economy
While many organisations, leaders and consultants believe that team-building exercises and focusing on interpersonal relationships are the key to achieving team performance, research has shown a different story. Sustained performance improvement is best achieved through a team coaching approach, whether delivered from within the team by a team leader or by an external coach.
Some examples of organisational scenarios where team coaching have made the difference between success and failure include mergers & acquisitions (M&As), restructures, matrix management, virtual working and cross-cultural projects. Without the expert intervention of a team coach, teams are left to grapple with the new realities of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) 21st Century workplace, such as:
- Increased social complexity and interconnectedness
- Conflicting philosophies, perspectives and options
- Changing or unfamiliar organisational cultures
- Shifting employment positions, roles and locations
- Unfamiliar policies, practices and processes
- Growth of virtual working
- Information overload
- Problem-solving inertia
These challenges can lead to team dysfunctions such as: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and finally, lack of attention to results, all of which result in poor performance.
What is Team Coaching?
Team coaching is a systematic process that enables a team to function as more than “the sum of its parts”, by clarifying its mission and improving its external and internal relationships. This is therefore different to (team) leadership coaching, or coaching individuals in a group setting.
I also describe team coaching is a learning intervention designed to increase collective capability and performance of a group or team through application of coaching principles such as assisted reflection, analysis and motivation for change.
The systematic process of team coaching can generate sustained high performance for all types of teams, for instance: Senior Leadership Teams (SLTs), Executive Teams, Project Teams, Virtual Teams, among others.
The business literature is replete with definitions of group/team process dynamics e.g., life cycle of groups/teams, norms, cohesiveness, flexibility, groupthink, conflict, creative abrasion, etc. There is also a plethora of psychometric tools and models claiming to achieve high performing teams once organisations make the investment.
However, as we know from reported concerns from CEOs, HR Directors and other organisational leaders, it takes more than just obtaining informational reports and a few off-site meetings to achieve the high levels of team performance necessary for a competitive advantage in the 21st Century.
As such, organisations are turning to experienced team coaches who possess the right combination of competencies and capabilities to design and deliver team coaching programs. Required competencies, capacities and capabilities to be possessed by effective team coaches include:
- Inquire, listen, diagnose, explore, act, review
- Deep practical understanding of systemic realities (e.g., interpersonal dynamics, power, politics, connecting system levels, specific organisational context),
- Self-awareness and listening to collective team
- Self-ease and tolerance of ambiguity
- Staying in the partnership zone
- Taking appropriate leadership
- Transcultural engagement – working across differences: gender, ethnic groups, age/generations, different functional loyalties, position in hierarchy, etc.
- Ethical maturity
- Sense of humour and humility
- Develops coaching capacity in others