Investing in “We”: Team Coaching and Organizational Performance
Generally when teams or larger groups within an organization need guidance, they turn towards a consultant – someone who has experience in the field and can direct workflows to achieve desired results. Consultants, though, are not the only mentors available. Teams looking to change not only their results, but also long term internal dynamics, could turn to team coaches.
Like consulting, team coaching is all about improving team performance; the major difference is that team coaching often involves multiple mentors working in tandem and independently. This often begins with one overarching goal, for example: “be more productive and effective in our weekly team meetings.” Starting this process is something of a leap of faith, since it’s just now becoming a recognized tool at manager’s disposal. Those willing to try the new experience are likely to find that having teams work with multiple coaches leads to marked results. This is because not every individual is interacting with the same mentor, so a wealth of guidance and perspectives are made available to the team.
Getting On The Same Page
Team coaching is particularly useful for managers who want to see their whole team united under common goals and perspectives. One way to bring this about is to raise awareness, something executive coaches do naturally as part of their guidance. The nature of the dialogue between client and coach often leads a client to greater insight and awareness, both of themselves and of those around them. Team coaches help build this awareness by observing inter-team dynamics and having individual follow-up sessions with the group where observations are offered and questions are asked. In addition, these group meetings are often followed up by one on one sessions between client and coach so that each member not only benefits from the advice each of the coaches offered to the group, but also from specific insight based on their personal needs and style.
This way, the team as a whole learns how to function effectively, but so do the individuals, who discover how they can personally contribute to the effectiveness of the team.
New and Improved (Coaching) Relationships
In typical coaching relationships, the coach is bound by the perspective that the client brings to the table. Coaches often have to take what is said at face value. Team coaching adds the advantage of providing the coaches with even more unfiltered access to their clients (and team interactions). When coaches observe for themselves, they know the information is real and accurate, are present in real time to clear up any confusion about the situation, ask follow up questions and immediately offer suggestions.
While the team coaching process may seem time consuming and intrusive, especially compared to the simplicity of listening to the directives of a consultant, organizations willing to invest the time and energy to improve team dynamics will be better positioned to face future challenges. Not only will their teams be stocked with finely tuned players, these players will also be sensitive to one another and be (ideally) working in harmony. With added support, insight and mentorship, team coaching allows clients to not only better themselves as individual performers and problem solvers, but also as a unified team.