Team Coaching: What is it and how does it work?
When you hear “team coaching,” many people naturally think of sports. As in baseball or football. But today, some of the most effective team coaching happens in a business setting, coaching teams in the workplace, and the results are game-changing.
Who needs team coaching?
Every business desiring to boost performance and unlock employee potential needs an objective, outside coach to come in and fine-tune (or overhaul) its teams. If your company – regardless of size – has skilled, capable people on staff, you should equip them with the tools and skills they need to exceed expectations.
Great teams don’t happen by accident.
Teams are the future. But research shows only one in five teams is a high-performing and effective group.
Teams can be collaborative engines or black holes where ideas go to die. Peter Senge from MIT says teams with an average member IQ of 120 function at a “group IQ” of 60. Which is why coaching is far too important to be handled as a DIY project.
We all want productivity and profitability. Team coaching is the way to jumpstart both. Industry stats suggest an external team coach is pretty much mandatory to reach max performance and cohesive engagement. That’s true for all categories of business and nonprofits, whether you have 6 or 600 employees.
It can be hard to know how to coach your team members as a member of the team. An external coach can guide and develop team members with a degree of clarity it may be hard to find otherwise.
What are the goals of team coaching?
Traditionally, business coaches worked one-on-one with leaders in a private setting. That’s changing. Today, we very often work in teams. The goals are similar – both seek to maximize personal and professional potential.
Unlike individual coaching, team coaching unlocks an entire group’s power and enhances what I call “collective intelligence.”
Taskwork vs. teamwork
The goals of team coaching are to help groups elevate their impact, rally around a common purpose, and willingly commit to team accountability. My objective is to switch a group’s mindset from taskwork (what I do) to teamwork (what we do together) by fostering open communication and a radically supportive climate.
As teams learn and evolve together, new ways of collaborative thinking and innovative problem-solving emerge. As they incorporate group learnings into daily practice, teams become increasingly self-sufficient. My goal is to creatively stretch and intensify your team’s current strengths; equipping them to confidently meet new challenges.
There are clear benefits from team coaching for the individual team members as well. Team coaching helps each stakeholder learn new skills and practices, while learning to proactively make better professional and personal choices.
Team coaching is cost effective
Because the cost is spread over a group, coaching an entire team at once gives me an opportunity to work with staff who might otherwise be left out. Business owners can now offer more employees the chance to explore new understandings, new behaviors, and new levels of communication.
What are the benefits of team coaching?
Teams exist to produce results. Team coaching exists to produce better results.
There’s a strong business case for team coaching – research shows companies offering comprehensive training have 208% higher income per employee and enjoy 24% higher profit margins. Beyond revenue growth, there are other benefits of coaching in the workplace, including improved morale and positive cross-fertilization as ideas spread to other teams.
Every business defines success differently, but here are some win-win benefits I expect my clients to see when I’m coaching their teams:
- Team members are hitting and exceeding projections
- Teams are making data-driven decisions with confidence
- Teams operate with better time-management and productivity
- Team members understand and trust the long-term strategy
- Teams members are excited, engaged, and enjoying the ride
When teams gel, people get excited
Thanks to these and other benefits, team leaders and managers end up working less hours and carrying less pressure. With team members on the same page, finding solutions to operational challenges will occur organically. Coaching and team development go hand in hand. Instead of unresolved interpersonal friction, teams will know how to work through stress, logjams, and lack of clarity.
For maximum ROI, team coaching is a better investment than sending individuals to seminars or training programs. Although a one-time event or workshop can make an impact, the effect is temporary. If your goal is effective and sustainable change in team results, it will require learning new behaviors and integrating them into the life of the team. And that requires a long-term coaching relationship.
What is the team coaching process?
Team coaching is not a quick fix or off-the-shelf solution. It’s a developmental strategy aimed at releasing the potential of each member to become the highest performer they can possibly be. In my experience, the dynamic trio of learning, action, and accountability produces teams that are more resourceful, resilient, and agile.
Compared to an individual, a team has exponentially more moving parts, hidden agendas, and shifting dynamics. So, there can never be a standardized, cookie-cutter approach. Instead, I offer unique, tailored guidance and feedback based on my coaching experience and outsider’s perspective.
While customized for each team, my process generally involves five stages:
- Define reality
Get a baseline understanding of where the team is at. Assess skills, personalities, and strengths. Have the team identify their short and long-term objectives. What is their purpose? What does the team need to achieve together? Collect and interpret performance metrics. Prioritize highest impact opportunities revealed by data.
- Start the conversation
Share group perspectives and insights on team strengths and weaknesses. What’s working? What’s not? What most needs to change? Then help build the commensurate skills. For example, explore ways to improve trust, increase collaboration, communicate effectively, and learn constructive conflict resolution.
- Say the unsayable
Address the white elephants in the room. Discuss group habits, behaviors and dynamics in a safe, structured environment. Bring to light any self-defeating patterns above and below the surface. If the team is failing in an area, drill into the root cause behaviors of the problems. Deliver both positive and corrective feedback.
- Set measurable goals
Create agreed-upon, trackable targets. Focus the conversation on current, specific work products that can be quantified. The team brainstorms, sets goals, and agrees on action steps and timing. Get a commitment from members to hold each other accountable.
- Review & realign
Emphasize that team coaching is an on-going process, not a one-step intervention. Explain how teams learn best when new skills are put into practice in their actual work environment. Evaluate outcomes at follow-up sessions, discuss implementing new group ideas to reach strategic goals. Recalibrate, reload and take corresponding action.
Let’s get started
Today’s high-functioning work environment is shifting from “the lone wolf” (think Han Solo) to “collaborators” (think Rebel Alliance). Progressive leaders now focus more on group goals – empowering teams of people to move the needle forward collectively.
As a business coach, I’ve watched this need emerge, and I’m excited to be working with various subcultures and micro-communities within companies. I’d love a chance to translate the tools I’ve developed into new behaviors that last in your organization.
If this applies to your situation, send me a note. I’ll set up a call so we can get to know each other a bit and see if there’s a match between your needs and my skill set.
Because a well-coached team can accomplish what individuals cannot.