The time of the hero leader is over. A single leader can’t deliver on the demands of today’s volatile, complex and uncertain world. Only dynamic and effective leadership teams can navigate a path to success. Competent team coaching is one of the three enablers identified as critical to senior leadership team effectiveness in Wageman et al’s landmark study of over 120 senior leadership teams.
“Teams do not improve markedly even if all of their members receive individual coaching to develop their individual capabilities”
– Ruth Wageman
Team coaching isn’t for the faint hearted leader, but our process truly transforms the performance of a team. It also enables the team’s leader to capably coach their team moving forward.
WHEN IS TEAM COACHING MOST IMPORTANT?
When the team needs to lead change in the organisation and act as role models.
When the team needs to deliver a strategic priority for the business.
When the team, particularly a top team, isn’t delivering.
When the team is less, not more, than the sum of its parts.
WHAT DOES TEAM COACHING LOOK LIKE?
We agree an initial contract and scope with the organisation on the remit of the work, such that we can effectively enter into an investigation phase. Through this we both get clarity on the needs of the team and the organisation, and an understanding of the system within which the team exists. This involves interviewing team members and key stakeholders, measuring team performance through the Team Assessment Survey (TAS II).
We design a programme based on the data we’ve collected and firm up our contracting such that we are clear on the intended outcomes and business benefits to be gained through the process. We also work to co-create a way to measure progress and ensure your return on investment. We will agree both leading and trailing edge measures. Effective programmes have a span of between six and twelve months.
A launch event, normally two days, is where we co-create a team contract and learning agenda. The development of the team is set firmly in the context of the system and the stakeholders the team must serve. Prior to this event, the team leader will have received 1:1 coaching to support their leadership of the team. Team coaches are not there to replace the team leaders but support them in their own development.
A number of team workshops where the coach both supports and challenges the team to embed the operating rhythms, disciplines and behaviours that have been agreed upon, to continually learn how to be a more effective team. The team coach will also observe team meetings so that they can gain insight and give productive feedback.
Alongside the team coaching sessions, individual coaching is offered to support team members in their own personal development, both as team members and as leaders of their own teams.
Supplemental learning activities. The investigation phase sometimes throws up some deficit(s) in the team that are best served by some other intervention, alongside the team coaching, e.g. the team’s ability to inspire others, or to coach and develop their talent pipeline.
The team review their learning and create a plan to sustain their performance and development. The TAS II team survey is once again used such that we get a before and after picture of the team’s performance.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
To reiterate, the most important unit of performance in today’s organisations is the team. Without the free flow of information within and between teams, with the necessary collaboration and cooperation, truly sustainable performance and competitive edge cannot be attained.
36% of overall performance (Profitability, Quality, Innovation, Growth) can be attributed to collaboration quality. Frost & Sullivan (2006)
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON OUTCOMES?
Clarity on team vs group
Clarity on whether this group needs to be a team or an effective working group. Sometimes we find that months of effort have gone into trying to form a great team when a team is not needed but an effective working group is. Much of what we do is also highly effective in creating a high performing working group but the focus is different.
There is no meaning without context. Many teams attempt to function without taking their context into consideration. Team coaching brings greater clarity of the system the team must perform within, the stakeholders they must serve and the measures they should be monitoring.
Clarity of mission
This is critical. Asking team members what is most important very often gets many different answers. What appears to be clarity and alignment on the surface is masking confusion and turmoil underneath. Meredith Belbin once asked “Do you want a collection of brilliant minds or a brilliant collection of minds?”. We want a brilliant collection of minds with a true and clear alignment of purpose.
A clear agreement as to what is important to them, how they act towards each other and how they hold each other accountable. This is a fundamental building block of high performance.
We’ve all experienced agreement in the meeting, the ‘false yes’ that turns to inaction, or even counter action, outside of team. This process tests the commitment of team members and encourages true accountability.
Without trust and transparency we can’t have positive conflict and without that we can’t have creative collaboration. Team members learn to engage in proper dialogue that gets to meaning rather than surface discussions.
Resources and influence
Clarity around the resources and influence the team need to achieve their goals.
Enhanced morale and team spirit
Team engagements and away-days often start here and while this is important, it is the result of teams working and delivering results together, not the other way round.
And of course, enhanced results depending on how the team and its stakeholders measure success. This is assessed at the start of the engagement and monitored as we progress through the coaching.
Sometimes there is a shift in the make-up of the team such that talent better supports the context and the mission.
High performing teams are clear in their mission, membership and accountabilities. In the research quoted above, fewer than 10% of team members agreed who was actually on their team!