Team coaching in the workplace relates to how we develop the communication, collaboration and goal alignment of a team who are ‘intact’ - i.e. they are bound in a working relationship where the performance of the individuals impacts the performance of the team, and visa versa. Team coaching might be instigated in the following circumstances:
- When a team changes working models - ie from waterfall to agile
- When a new manager or critical team member enters the scene and the team needs to establish ways of working and productivity quickly
- If there’s been a breakdown in working alliances, or even conflict between critical team members whose performance is being relied on
- When a team has a work outcome that requires more resources, tools and techniques to ensure a positive result, such as creative exercises to stimulate innovation from the team
Team coaching is an incredibly impactful development intervention, however it’s currently underutilised in the workplace setting, as opposed to the sporting arena where we often see this model exercised. Why isn’t team coaching more common in the professional world? Here’s a few ideas:
- It’s very hard to get right - team dynamics are incredibly complex and require an experienced psychologist to work with. When there’s multiple people in a team, each personality, role power dynamic, history of relationships, position description, and other factors such as competing budgets or KPI’s can create a web of meaning that the team is operating under, and each additional person who joins the team adds to this complexity exponentially. Even teams who appear to be aligned are incredibly complex, and sometimes companies choose to ‘see how they unfold’ rather than trying to understand and work with the dynamic.
- Not many coaches are trained in team coaching - in fact this is an area of coaching with very little (or no) real evidence backed research to establish the reliability of tools, interventions, styles and coaching resources that work. Most team coaches are working from their experience or their intuition - in some cases this can be incredibly valuable to a team (because the coach becomes part of their dynamic) but in other cases, it’s meddling. We need the academic world to research this area further, and the coach training world to make more accreditations available based on that research evidence.
- Cost - while team coaching is invariably less expensive than 1:1 coaching, as the coaching cost is spread over 4-6-8 heads, each of those individuals needs to take time away from their work regularly (usually at least 90-120 minutes weekly including in-session and prep or reflection time) to participate in the coaching sessions. It can feel like ‘time off task’ for those team members, who are probably under some kind of pressure already (hence receiving team coaching!) and the hourly ‘rate’ of those employees all adds up. However this is cost (in terms of time spent) up front to produce better results down the track.
We’re seeing more and more interest coming in for team coaching and group coaching (more on that later!) as companies look at ways to use the coaching model across their business, not just for those critical 1:1 engagements. Reach out to discuss how team coaching can benefit your case: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s some more resources on team coaching: