Five key rules about team coaching

Working as a team coach is often challenging in many ways.

Perhaps some players are not on board with the approach. Maybe a team is dysfunctional; perhaps different motivations are in play. Perhaps a team is not a team but a group of individuals delivering an outcome with individual responsibilities.

This dilemma should lead us as team coaches to think about the way that we integrate and work with teams of people.

With this backdrop, here are five things that we should keep front of mind as we actively work with teams.

  1. Think about the whole team. A team or group of individuals is made up of people with different personalities, values, desires, needs and therefore, motivators. Think about the gregarious egocentric taking control by volunteering opinion that stifles the quiet introspective. Think about the community-based person working with individual performers. The dichotomies ring out as we get deeper into understanding the ‘group’. We should encourage all to participate actively in the development of building trust and outcome.
  2. Think about the whole system. An individual operates within a team, within a division, within and organisation, within a market. No longer are markets defined by boundaries but by delivery capability with operational and connectivity improvement enabling things to happen that even ten years ago would not have been possible. We should encourage an understanding of what is and what is not within team control. A recent example of this being the vote by the British to leave the EU. This decision has a profound impact on how companies operate across borders but are generally outside of the control of our business leaders. So, as team coaches, we need to help our assignments to understand what is and what is not real.
  3. With many personalities and agendas in play, there are complex ambiguities to consider. As a coach, we need to be happy with this. We need to practise holding this ambiguity and pushing understanding when required.
  4. As ambiguity extends, so does the need to understand the contract need and outcomes. A coach operating within a team setting should have a handle on what the contract objectives. We should understand how these contract objectives can be represented. A tension, therefore, exists between control and ambiguity. A great coach will be able to understand and work with this tension.
  5. Associated with contracting, we need to have an understanding of time expectations. Generally, team coaching outcomes do take time. Achieving a change in group behaviour or a stepwise change in practice does not happen overnight. Therefore apart from the scope of the contract, time expectations need to be explored with a client at the outset of a team coaching engagement.

Keep these 5 ‘rules’ in focus when you start working with groups, be brave, and be challenging. Most of all, enjoy what you are doing as this infection assists people in their development.