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When is Team Coaching a Good Idea and What Does It Involve?
Unlike leadership coaching, team coaching addresses more complex, team-level dysfunction, looking to improve team cohesion and help teams fulfill their potential. It can help diverse teams, ranging from branch offices to family businesses.
Bringing talented individuals together into cohesive team units should be the goal of every success-oriented organization. To get anything done, you need functional teams. A cohesive team amplifies the talents of your individual employees, as it’s more than a sum of its parts. Yet many teams fail to live up to their potential. Team coaching offers a solution against dysfunctional teams. It may be the solution your organization needs.
Teams amplify the talents of individual employees, provided they are functional.
Executive coaching focuses on the individual. Since teams comprise many individuals, team coaching presents a different challenge. In my leadership coaching books, I have always stressed the importance of team-focused individual leadership competencies. Team coaching is about more than that, however.
The best way to describe the scope of team leadership is to look at the problems it addresses. The issues teams most frequently meet are:
- A lack of trust among team members
- Conflict and fear of conflict that stifles initiative
- The absence of engagement and commitment
- Deflection of responsibility and accountability
- Failure to accurately assess results and pay due attention to them
When is Team Coaching a Good Idea?
Team coaching is a good idea whenever you intend to improve the performance of a team struggling with any of the mentioned problems. In addition to the intent of the team leader, it doesn’t hurt to secure the buy-in of every team member. Team coaching may work its magic even if some team members are skeptical about it.
Team coaching can help:
- Branch office teams
- Senior teams that pose unique challenges due to their particular brand of tribalism
- Virtual teams that struggle to communicate optimally
- Family businesses where ingrained relationships may hinder proper teamwork
- Medical clinic teams
- Research teams where egos and differing perspectives may collide
- Military teams
- Other teams
What Does Team Coaching Involve?
The problems that lead to dysfunctional teams have many solutions, depending on the circumstances. Team coaching consists of team leadership coaching and proper team coaching.
Team leadership coaching ensures that leadership does not create problems for the team instead of supporting a productive team culture. As such, team leadership coaching is a lot like individual executive coaching.
Team coaching identifies the team’s challenges and subsequently treats them via several potential techniques.
- To address the lack of trust, coaches may get team members to focus on each other’s strengths instead of weaknesses. This way, they may eliminate the fear of showing weakness that breeds a lack of trust.
- Assigning a person to find counterarguments to every proposal is an excellent way to combat the fear of conflict. In addition to opening new perspectives, this approach highlights the advantages of voicing opposing opinions.
- To combat lack of commitment, a coach may request that team leaders summarize the team’s decisions during meetings and re-state the rationale behind them. Detailing the possible pitfalls may contribute to clarity, and clarity facilitates commitment.
- Focusing on rewarding team achievements instead of individual performance can defeat the avoidance of accountability. Executive coaching can help team leaders implement such reward systems, changing the team culture.
- Setting clear metrics to measure team performance can rally the troops toward common goals. It can also align individual ambitions with the team goals, thus ensuring cohesion.
Measuring achievements is essential for establishing team focus.
Team Coaching is Not Team Building
Both team building and team coaching facilitate team cohesion. Team coaching identifies well-defined problems, however, and targets them effectively. Team building is the “fun” part of creating cohesion. Team coaching is the “work” part.
Coaching a team is more complex and challenging than coaching individuals. Team coaches navigate intricate unwritten rules, team dynamics, and complex behaviors. Teams can accomplish great things, however. Therefore, coaching teams can be much more rewarding than traditional executive coaching.