Even while team coaching is getting accepted as a powerful intervention, there is a lot of confusion about it. Many people still think this as a newer name for training, facilitation or team building.
It is sometimes considered as a cost saving device when the budget can’t afford individual coaching specially at a junior and middle levels.
Team coaching is a well accepted term in sports. In team sports it is normal to have a coach apart from the captain. However in corporate environment the manager is expected to do coach’s job also. Though there is nothing wrong in manager taking this role, and in future highly evolved managers will surely act as coaches, in today’s situation most managers are not trained and equipped to be coaches.
In corporate environment the teams exist to achieve business results and the objective of coaching should be to enable the team to achieve identified business results.
Team coaching is different from training or from team building or strategising workshops, though coaching techniques can be used in these interventions also and on he other hand team coaching may have to include these tools as part of the engagement.
In team coaching, the underlying principle is that the potential of the team or the group is much more than the sum of potential of the individuals in the group. Team as a whole can achieve much more than what all the members can achieve individually.
Team coaching brings the group dynamics to the fore and use them to the advantage of the group. Team coaching follows all the basic principals of coaching which are used in coaching individuals. Of course we have added complexities of a team conflicts but then we also have synergies of a group to tap upon.
Team coaching starts with contracting and involving sponsors and all the other stakeholders. I often found a need to educate the team and the stakeholders about what team coaching is about and to set their expectations, before we do a formal contract and agree on defined boundaries of the engagement.
Often the team has to recognise itself as a single entity with common objectives. Before they can set team goals, I usually run an online survey to collect individual team members opinions about what they think and feel about their role in the team, what is their personal and team’s goals, what are the major bottlenecks for the team in achieving these goals.
The information collected in this survey becomes my basis for the first session, where I attempt to obtain a consensus on the common goals and needs for the team as a whole. We need to make sure that the team goals align well with the business goals and the team should understand the big picture. The goals should be challenging which the team should understand, are bigger than their individual goals. They can be achieved only jointly and not individually.
Every group is not a team. It is their common goals, which make them a team. In other words, team identity is defined by their goals. Every member in the team should clearly understand this.
Next comes the design of the coaching sessions and assessment needs. Sometimes assessments tools like DiSC, MBTI and Gallop strength finder may be useful to fit the right role balance in the team. The coach works with the team to define their developmental goals. It is important that people understand the difference between personal development plans and development needs for the team as a whole.
Once the goals and development needs for the team are agreed, the rest of the process is similar to what we follow in coaching individuals except that we need to keep a control on the groups dynamics at all times. The coach creates an awareness amongst the team members about what it is like to work together.
It may be useful for the team coach to be present as an observer in the team meetings. Unlike in individual coaching, here the coach has to listen to the conversations amongst the members and understand the body language of the whole team.
The aim of the coach is to empower the team to learn to be on their own. It may be a good idea to train the team leader to be a coach, so that the coaching process continues even after the external coach leaves.
As team coaching always targets to deliver business results, the return on investment is usually very high and you can measure it in terms of business benefits.
In the longer run, it would be useful to an organisation to train their managers to act as a coach to their teams. As the new young generation joins the work force, the role of manager as an administrator and director is going to end and they will have to act more as a coach to their teams.
Pankaj is an executive coach with over 29 years of experience working as leader in various large multinational organisations. Pankaj has widely travelled and has headed multi-locational and multi-cultural teams.
As an executive coach, Pankaj has worked with leadership teams of large services companies. Apart from personally coaching senior leaders, Pankaj has also coordinated internal coaching programmes.
Pankaj is an active social worker and volunteers with many NGOs working with under-privileged.
Pankaj is a PCC and also trained and certified on NLP counselling, EQ and DiSC.