Team coaching is a challenging task. Handling different team members together requires great time and effort.
Team coaching may sound easy in theory but the practical reality is very different. A team coach has to take care that each member’s individual potential works at its best. This is essential to leverage synergy for achieving organizational’s goals.
Team coaching helps in stretching the limits of the employees beyond their abilities. A team coach uses the experiences and knowledge of team members to achieve team goals. The larger the team size the more difficult it becomes to handle everyone together.
A team may consist of members with different attitudes and personality types. Hierarchy in organizations plays a key role. Coaching a single client is easy but team coaching is a herculean task in itself. Workplace coaching requires effective team coaches to drive the process.
Seldom many team coaches find it difficult to achieve solid results in the process. If you are a team coach, generic coaching techniques will not work always at workplaces. You need to customize your team coaching process according to specific needs.
Today we will discuss some strategies that will help you in your team coaching process. These strategies will give you a different perspective. I am sure that by the end of this article you will be able to gain some meaningful insights.
Strategy 1: Understand the dynamics of Team Coaching
Team coaching at the workplace is like sports team coaching. It involves honing both individual skills and group talent.
There is a difference in conducting one-to-one coaching sessions and team coaching sessions. A Team coach must first be aware of the dynamics of team coaching.
As a team coach, you must focus on the below five points for a successful team coaching process.
Team coaching demands a focus on the WHOLE
The ultimate goal of the team coaching process should be – ACHIEVING COMMON TEAM GOALS.
This is possible only when your focus as a team coach is to boost learning for the team as a whole. Individual feedback is a component of team coaching. Still, the target should be improving team effectiveness.
Your coachees must identify themselves first as a team and then as individuals. Only then your team coaching process will be successful. Each member should gain insight and practice behaviors in the context of a team.
An effective team coaching process is a result of system-thinking perspective
A team coach must be well-versed with organizational dynamics. Your coaching philosophy must be organization-oriented.
You must be crystal-clear with the organizational goals. Your team coaching process must be on par with the objectives of the organization.
Thereafter, make sure that each team member understands the same goals as well. Your team coaching techniques must make the team members take steps to achieve goals. Your clients must put individual efforts. But they should take accountability for results as a team.
A team coach must be comfortable with ambiguity
There can be various instances in team coaching when things will not be
clear. In the beginning, all seems to be clear. As and when you proceed, ambiguity may find its place to destroy the team dynamics.
A team coach must be comfortable in handling ambiguity and unexpected situations. Team coaches should not expect that things will work in the set direction always. Instead, they must be eager to learn the ways in which team works.
Team coaching requires setting boundaries
Each team member must have the right to have his/her say in the team. At the same time, setting certain boundaries is also important. A team coach works with three different units:
- Individual coachees
Team coaches must identify, create and manage boundaries between and within each unit.
Team coaching demands a long-term view
Team coaching doesn’t have immediate results at all times. Building unity and team spirit take days and even months. Also, organizations may have long processes and demands.
Thus, a team coach must not pressurize the team members to change very soon. Patience and tolerance is the key here. If the team coach is patient then individuals will function better.
If the coach is rigid and full of expectations this may result in negative consequences. This can lead to a non-conducive environment. Team members may fear and not be so vocal with the coach. This can further lead to misunderstandings. As a result, it would be difficult for the coach to manage the members as they would be unlikely to follow him/her.
Thus, it is important that the team coach has a long-term focus. The process will be successful when the team members have enough time to know themselves. This must include constant support and appreciation to motivate the members.
Strategy 2: Get clear on what your team coaching process must include
There are certain principles on which the team coaching process rests. It is very important that you build your action plan around these principles. Let us get aware of some such important principles in team coaching and discover their role.
Know about each team member
A team coach you must know each team member to a deeper level. You must be aware of the following about each team member:
- Strengths and weakness
- Source of motivation and demotivation
- Past contribution to team success
- The role that the member play in the organization
- What he/she excels at
- What challenges him/her etc.
Include the self-evaluations of each team member as a part of the team coaching process. Use it to make sure that the potential of each team member is being utilized to the fullest.
Collaboration is a must
It is very common for team members to compete amongst themselves. They may compete for career positions or to emphasize their efforts over others. A team coach may also find members who have the “I, Me and Myself” attitude. This may affect the entire team. Especially if such a member is in a senior position it becomes even difficult to bring a change.
A very important part of team coaching is to encourage collaboration. A team coach must focus on the team’s success rather than individual accomplishments. This will allow you to foster a culture that thrives as a team. At the same time, it will become easier for members to rely on each other.
Conflict resolution is very important in a team. Conflicts can arise due to various reasons. These may be the result of a team-member being very short-tempered.
Inefficient performance can lead to disagreements and arguments. Sometimes certain employees may not be able to strike a work-life balance. This can reduce the efficiency or transform behaviors that may lead to conflicts.
Whatever the reason may be, conflict resolution is an important part of team coaching. A team coach must have good negotiation skills to resolve the situations.
The coach should take care that the issue does not escalate and there is peace all around. Also, this must not only appear at the surface level but at a deeper level as well. Otherwise, this can lead to future disagreements. Coach your clients with effective conflict resolution techniques.
Propose to reform the existing organization processes if needed
There can be instances where employees can not give their best. This can happen because of stringent policies/processes within the organization.
Suppose that an organization is not that transparent with its employees. This may lead to confusion. This happens because the team members may not be aware of honest expectations.
A team coach may have discussions with the superiors and managers to reform the processes a bit. The coach must provide reasons why the reformation may bring improved team performance.
In this case, a coach can emphasize how transparency can improve communication.
Apart from this, there can be other reasons that are lowering the team’s productivity. This may be because of non-flexible timings. A lot of work pressure, less or no acknowledgment of the employee’s achievements, etc. may also lead to the same.
Team coaches must know organizational coaching fundamentals as well.
Building mutual trust is essential in team coaching
Mutual trust lies at the foundation of team coaching. Team members must be frank, and truthful to each other. Building trust in a competitive environment can be a difficult task. The coaching process must have exercises to build the confidence of team members.
Mutual trust is vital but at the same time, it is important that the team members trust the organization. Only when the intentions are clear between the company and employees, success comes. Top-level executives must show their love and consideration for their employees.
Celebrating success boosts the confidence of the team members
A vital part of the team coaching process is building motivation in the team members. Celebrating success- small and big- can be beneficial here. Both team achievements and individual success should call for celebration.
Celebrating success can boost confidence in all the team members to a great extent. This must happen for both personal achievements and professional gains. A team coach must also be a great motivation coach.
Constructive feedback is a must for a successful team coaching process
If you as a team coach do not provide honest feedback to your coachees, they won’t grow. It is important to discuss what worked and what didn’t. This must happen both on the individual and team level. While providing feedback make sure that your way is least hurting.
Avoid making direct comments. You must first praise your coachees for their efforts. Thereafter, tell them that they can do even better if certain mistakes are not repeated.
Base your feedback on efforts rather than outcomes. As a coach, you must know that efforts not always bring outcomes. The results may appear in the long run. Let not your coachee become disheartened. Motivate each team member in the best way you can.
Not only giving feedback is important but taking feedback is also important. You must not collect the feedback only when the collaborations end. You must take consistent feedback to confirm that the team is resonating with your ideas. This will help you to refine your coaching process and tailor it around your team.
Learn ways to give difficult feedback without hurting feelings.
Strategy 3: Involve these four techniques in your team coaching process
Recognize your coachees’ true motivators
Researchers have realized that there are three motivators that lead to better outcomes.
Autonomy– As a team coach, you must give your coachee the necessary resources and material. After doing so, you need not be always behind your coachees. You must provide them with a sense of independence. They should be able to do their work without approval for everything.
Your job as a coach is to guide your clients in the right direction but let them tread the path on their own. This will provide a sense of autonomy. This will help the clients to get the right environment to prosper well.
Don’t control their lives. Let them commit mistakes. That’s how they will learn.
Mastery- Mastery of a skill is the greatest form of motivation. If your coachees are confident that they have a command on their job, it will boost their morale.
Team coaching strives to provide this sense of mastery to the clients. If each team member is confident in his/her department, it will increase the chances of team success.
You as a team coach have to look at how you can build this mastery. This can happen by providing the right resources and networking opportunities. You must create an environment wherein the team members can learn from each other.
Purpose– Many of the coachees would not find any purpose in the team’s work rather than their paycheck. Salaries shouldn’t drive the coachees. The purpose has to be bigger. Think beyond. Connect your coachees to the big impact that their work is creating. Find ways in which the coachees’ can create a difference with their roles.
Turn down the noise
In today’s working environment, it is a common thing to see employees working on many tasks. When priorities aren’t defined, confusions are bound to occur. Your coachees can perform well in the team only when each of them has clarity about the expectations.
Team coaching focuses both on the coachees and on the organization and its practices. As a coach, you must see that the coachee is able to perform an individual task well.
If there are many tasks, make sure that the managers in the team clarify the priorities. Provide the team members with clear action steps and attach deadlines to each. This will increase the concentration of the team members. This will also provide them with clear directions.
Encourage the three E’s of communication
Studies prove that improving communication in the team brings more results. Teams in which members can communicate well lead to problem solutions fast. This is opposite to specialist teams where members concentrate on honing individual expertise.
There are three E’s which are important for high-performance communication. Let’s have a look at them.
The different forms of communication consist of different levels of energy. Face-to-face communications have the greatest form of energy in them. The level of energy reduces in telephonic, video calls and written communication.
The team coaching process must include energetic conversations within the team. Team members who communicate the entire day in some of the ways tend to give better results.
A team coach must encourage communications from short updates to big ones. The coach must emphasize the importance of collaborating with each other. The team coach must guide coachees for keeping the energy of the team-high. Teach your clients ways of improving leadership communication skills.
Also, there will be times when the energy levels would shift based on priorities. It may happen that the team of developers need some solitary time to work on individual tasks.
Highly-engaged teams will have many active members within. Teams, where the engagement is less, will consist of less active members. Such teams will have members who are passive in their actions.
Building engagement is a very important part of team coaching. As a team coach, you must identify the less active team members. Drive your energy more to include them in one or the other way. Spend more time with them during the coaching sessions. Make them realize the importance of getting engaged in team matters.
Identify what is the main cause of their not getting engaged. Is it because they are shy? Or are they scared to put their point of view? Teach them the importance of interacting. Guide them on how to improve if they have weak social skills. As a team coach, you must master ways to increase employee engagement.
Teams that move out of their own bubbles and get ideas from outside tend to be more creative and innovative. The team members of such a team spend a lot of time reading, attending events and networking. They try to bring the best from the outside world and share amongst the team members. This gives rise to new perspectives and approaches.
Team coaching must encourage exploration techniques. At the same time, a team coach must be aware that too much exploration can cut engagement within the teams. Thus, it becomes the responsibility of the team coach to strike a balance between both. One way can be, asking the team members to explore and bring back their own insights into the discussions.
Boost the team members’ neuroplasticity
Did you hear about Neuroplasticity?
No worries! I will explain this to you. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to form new neural connections. The more plastic the brain is the more it can cope up with challenging tasks. Neuroplasticity also allows you to change harness your emotions.
The performance of your coachees depends a lot on their brain’s plasticity. Thus you as a team coach cannot ignore this vital technique.
You can boost the neuroplasticity of your coachees’ brains by constant exercises.
There are two easy ways of doing so.
- Ask your coachee to learn new things. This can be anything with which the coachee is unfamiliar.
- Teach your coachees to do challenging tasks. These include solving riddles, puzzles, etc.
One way to include these exercises is by extending the meetings a bit. If time is a constraint then you can assign these as homework to your coachees.
Team coaching though is a challenging task but at the same time involves great fun. As a team coach, there are a lot of opportunities that you have to shoulder. At the same time, it gives immense pleasure when your efforts transform into results.
The team coaching process must involve effective action steps to build solid practices. At the same time constant feedback and follow up on the feedback is also important.
I am sure that the above strategies will help you to improve your coaching process and achieve goals.
Do you have any other piece of advice or an experience to share while working in teams?
Why not share the same in the comment section below!?