Team Coaching

  • How do I get my operational team to become more cohesive and better performing?
  • How does the team’s actions and behaviour set the needed cultural and strategic context?
  • As individuals within the team, they perform well, but as a team there is a lack of accountability that affects their overall performance. How can I address this?

Introduction

Successful and effective teams are at the heart of every thriving organisation. Because of the increasing complexities wrought by operating in a global market, organisations are increasingly looking to their teams to provide collaborative and transformational leadership. So, members in teams now need to be effective leaders themselves whilst always remaining true to the vision and common purpose of the team.

 

Team Coaching – Focus Areas

  • How do I get my operational team to become more cohesive and better performing?
  • How does the team’s actions and behaviour set the needed cultural and strategic context?
  • As individuals within the team, they perform well, but as a team there is a lack of accountability that affects their overall performance. How can I address this?

These are just some of the questions senior management ask about their teams’ performance. It is fundamentally about addressing some dysfunction in how the team is operating, or in supporting a team at it’s inception to help it and the individual members get the best possible start. Either way, we work with teams enabling them to understand other team member’s perspective and values, thus enabling higher quality conversations and communications to take place.  In supporting teams through this transformational process, we work with Hawkins’ five core disciplines of high performing teams. These are:

Commissioning

To perform at a high level, teams must have a clear purpose set for them by external parties, ie the board of directors or senior management. The commission must clearly state the objectives and also the methods of measuring success along the way to attainment of the objective.  The team leaders must be appointed and then the individual members with the right skills and chemistry need to be brought together.

Clarifying

Once the team knows and understands the requirements from external stakeholders the next step is for the team to determine to clarify it’s own internal purpose, in order to achieve the desired objective. The team must set some clear ground rules about how they are going to operate effectively. The main areas requiring clarification by the chosen team are:

  • Purpose
  • Strategic goals and objectives
  • Protocols and ways of working
  • Roles and expectations
  • Compelling vision for success

Connecting

This is in effect is where the most interesting and challenging aspect of creating and sustaining high performing teams occurs. The team must consciously and continually attend to and be aware of how and where they are functioning well, and where they are in effect failing. This can be down to a number of factors but inherently it will be about people’s beliefs, values assumptions and associated pattern of behaviours. Any difficulties emerging in the team dynamics must be identified early and dealt with appropriately and swiftly.

Core Learning

The final discipline happens when the team steps back and reflects on it’s achievements, performance to that point, and then learns from this stage to enhance it’s performance in the next stage of the cycle of engagement.  This needs to be done both collectively as a team but also by each individual within the team.

Source  Hawkins P  2011

It is important to point out that a high performing team will be in a continual cycle addressing these areas. It is not a strictly linear process.   

 

Team Coaching – Our Approach

The following is indicative of the steps that occur once the initial contract of engagement has been agreed. This approach can be adapted to best meet organisations’ requirements.

One – Discovery Phase

  • Firstly, listen to the teams line manager and other interested stakeholders to understand their “story” about the dynamics, cohesiveness and performance of the team
  • Hold confidential individual meetings with each of the members, to understand their “story”, past and current triumphs, past and current challenges and anything that is pertinent to the workings of the team.

Two – Collate Findings

  • Collate the findings into one central document, which forms the basis of the on-going team coaching engagement. This is then shared with each of the members, although the specific views are non-attributable.

Three – Agree on contract between team coach and the team

  • At the first of the day long team coaching events, the key areas for discussion and agreement will be agreed
  • The headlines of development to work with based on the feedback compiled by the team coach. These headlines will be agreed by the team as a whole, facilitated by the team coach.
  • How the relationship between the team coach and the team members will work. Respective responsibilities towards each other and the team coach will be agreed, together with specific guidelines on handling sensitive disclosures and overly challenging or unhelpful communication.  In fact all the elements of the psychological contract, are explicitly agreed. This work forms an important part of the team coaching.

Four – Commence the team coaching

  • Typically the team coaching session will consist of a an average of between  of 3 – 6 team coaching days, over an equivalent number of months or every two months, whichever is deemed the most suitable.  During this time, the team facilitated by the team coach will explore all the headline areas brought up within the discovery phase.

Five – Plenary session

  • The team coaching relationship will end with the final session, the plenary. This affords an opportunity for all members of the engagement to reflect on progress made, celebrate success and decide on any agreed continued team development goals for the future.

Real learning takes place between sessions

This is the real benefit of team coaching. Whilst the individual days will raise awareness with the individual members and team as a whole, the learning will really continue between the sessions, when they have plenty of opportunities to try out new approaches, adapt their behaviour and build on the individual and group strengths. The follow up sessions start with a review and sharing of team progress.

Optional individual coaching

The team coaching may be supplemented by individual coaching to allow 1 to 1 exploration of core issues and challenges concerning the individual and how they impact on the team as a whole.

Best Practice

As a team coach we adhere to the following assumptions to optimise the use of best practise within professional non-directive coaching

  • The team is a living, evolving, entity striving for great performance, not a problem to be fixed.
  • Each person within the team has an equal contribution to make
  • The team members and the team coach are freely engaging in the coaching assignment and have a peer to peer relationship throughout it’s duration.
  • The team coach views each member of the team as an individual with lots of potential and personal strengths
  • The team coach’s role is to support the team; through a range of focussed conversations and other activities, to draw solutions to existing challenges and learn how to build on existing strengths.

In working with teams we draw from and utilise a number of different approaches:-

  • Appreciative enquiry – looking at what is working, what is good and effective about the team as it is, rather than viewing the team as a problem to be fixed.
  • Non-directive Coaching – Supporting the team in drawing their own learning and conclusions. If they come up with the solution, they will be more accountable in implementing it, rather than if the coach “proffers a solution”. The team coaches skill is in setting the ground rules, holding the team to the agenda, asking incisive questions, listening, summarising and paraphrasing, all the skills of a professional non-directive coach, in other words!
  • Feedback – Gaining feedback, as well as giving feedback forms a key part of the team coach’s approach.  The rules around giving immediate feedback will be agreed at the outset at the first team coaching meeting
  • Group Facilitation – Successful group facilitation is, of course, a key ingredient in any team coaching intervention. The team coach must be able to handle complex team dynamics, challenging conversations and support the team in working through the agenda as productively as possible.
  • Learning styles – Gaining insight into the different learning styles operating within the group will be important in designing any team development activities
  • Team Building Activities – These activities will be built into each of the days, to enhance learning and build bonds.

 

Benefits of working with a team coach

Increases Clarity of Purpose

The team members will have greater clarity about their purpose, their collective and individual values and perspective. This increasing clarity will add renewed vigour and dynamism into the workings of the team.

Produces significant improvements in performance

Business results matter, and as teams are the engines that deliver the desired projects and results for a business, an intervention that produces quantifiable returns on investment is very worthwhile.

Generates positive changes in attitudes and behaviour

Increased self-awareness and understanding behind individual habits and attitudes combined with an action based focus, almost invariably leads to positive changes in unhelpful attitudes and behaviours, thus increasing the cohesiveness and performance of the team.

Improves communications with colleagues

By partaking in team coaching, members will be more understanding of each other’s values and perspective. This increased mutual understanding will lead to improved respect and understanding, translating into better communications and more streamlined productivity.

Generates increased focus on outcomes

As each individual gains greater clarity about their respective roles and how the team operates cohesively, this allows the team increase their level of focus and attention on the core desired outcomes.  Less time is spent in unhelpful communications, personal agendas, or behaviour which is generally unhelpful towards the effectiveness of the team.

Enables authentic accountability and responsibility

As each team member works through the team coaching assignment, they will become more accountable and responsible towards each other and other external stakeholders.  This will mean less “passing the blame” to other team members, when things go wrong. This will really help in developing resilience within the team as they learn to handle setbacks and successes in equal measure.