Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Barbara J. Cormack (France).
Team or Group Coaching is all about working with more than one person at the same time. It is said that a ‘team’ is a group of people working together to achieve a common goal or outcome; whereas a ‘group’ may be a number of people who have the same interest, but may not specifically be working together to achieve a common goal or outcome, rather may be working together to achieve a more personal but similar goal or outcome.
While coaching one person at a time is a very powerful way for that person to achieve their goal – personal and/or professionally, within a team focusing on one person at a time is only part of the whole picture. Working with the whole team, where the team has a single or common goal or expected outcome, gives each person within that team the opportunity to learn, reflect, grow, develop, and be part of the success of achieving the common goal.
Research shows that for teams and groups, the individual person’s opportunity to grow and develop is more dependent upon working within the team environment; than working on their own to achieve a team goal or outcome. Having said that though, where the team is a group of people working together who have no desire to succeed as a team, then the outcome of team coaching may be very limited.
Teams come together for a specific reason – either as a department within a company or for a specific project. Whatever the reason for the team, each team will have a team goal or expected outcome. From the Director and Senior Manager to each person within this team; everyone has a role to play in its success.
The goal or expected outcome is defined by someone senior within the organisation. The goal or expected outcome is often ‘given to’ a senior manager to deliver. The expectation of success is set by others.
Selecting the team:
Whether this is a department within an organisation or a selected team, it is important to know that the right people are part of this team. As the coach supporting this team, how do you support each person in the team to know that they are the right person?
- Richard Hackman (Harvard) and Ruth Wageman (Dartmouth College) have written a number of articles, papers, etc. on team coaching and have outlined the following six conditions critical to a successful team structure:
- Clear ‘membership’ and boundaries.
- Compelling direction or purpose to guide the team in their work.
- Selecting the right people with the appropriate knowledge, skills, and/or experience to perform the task or tasks required to achieve the goal or outcome.
- A solid team structure with a clear set of agreements to guide them on how to get the work done. In other words, this could be a team ethical code.
- A supporting organisational structure that has the ability to provide (1) information, (2) time, and (3) resources for each member of the team to get their work progressed and completed.
- A competent coach who is able to support the team as a whole. The coach could be a member of the team or they could be an internal organisation coach not included as a member of the team, or an external coach.
They do explain that if any of these conditions are misaligned, the result could be interpersonal conflict within the team.
Selecting the coach:
The coach must have the ability to work with each individual person, one at a time, and with the whole team simultaneously.
As well as all ‘standard’ requirements to be a coach, the coach must be able to be non-judgemental, put aside everything they know about the topic or reason for the team, put aside comments made by one member of the team about another, and maintain each client’s confidentiality.
The coach must be able to listen at the right level to both an individual member of the team and when they are working with the team as a whole. Listening at the right level when working with one person is a standard skill for every coach, but being able to be aware and listen at the right level when in a meeting takes the coach to the next level. They are looking for and listening to people who want to be the focus of attention, as well as people who don’t say anything; and all those in between. It is not the coach’s responsibility to ‘chair’ the meeting, but rather to support each step taken to achieve the team goal or expected outcome. The coach will interject with appropriate questions to help the team take the next step. They will use tools like the GROW process to help the meeting move to a successful conclusion. They will question assumptions. They will help each person understand what another has said or explained. They will help work through all options and select the right action and individual team member’s tasks to take the next step.
Expected outcome or goal:
Each one of us knows how hard it can be to stay focused on achieving our personal goal or goals, but when departments or teams are ‘given’ a goal; it can be hard to make it a success.
When you are setting your own personal goals, using tools like the SMARTER process, you are absolutely clear about the benefits of this goal to you personally or professionally. When you are ‘given’ a goal you sometimes cannot see the same level of benefits.
It is important that the coach helps each member of the team (1) understand the goal, (2) understands the benefits to them, and (3) create a goal that allows each member of the whole team to support the steps that need to be taken to be a success.
Coaching within a business always raises the question about the identity of both the individual within the business and the individual within the department or team. Here the coach has the opportunity to work with the team as a whole to create, define, and understand the team identity.
One step at a time:
Often organisations have an expectation that a goal or expected outcome can be achieved in a set period of time. This expectation may be based on a specific requirement, i.e. an exhibition or conference date; or it may be a date put in the diary because it felt like a good date.
It is important for the coach to be aware of the expected end date and to help the team work towards it. The coach is able to work with the team as a whole and each member of the team to overcome obstacles, concerns, worries, fears; as well as the time taken to learn, grow, and develop; while taking one step as a team at a time to achieve their successful outcome.
The coach is not a member of this team and can also work with the Senior/Project Manager in their report back to the person/people who defined the goal or expected outcome. This report can raise both risks and successes in helping set or reset their expectations.
It’s not surprising that when a goal or expected outcome is achieved that the team feel a little deflated. Often the person/people who defined the goal or expected outcome will say ‘great news’, ‘well done’, ‘congratulations’; but this does not mean that the team as a whole or even each person in the team if ‘feeling’ the success.
The coach can play a huge role here both for the team as a whole and for each person. One of the things that we do not do very well is CELEBRATE our successes! The coach can work with the team as a whole and with individual members to help them understand what they want to do or how they want to celebrate this success.
The skills each coach learns when they train to be a coach are what they need to be a competent team or group coach, used at a level of more awareness:
- Listening skills, enhanced to ensure that the coach is truly listening to each member of the team.
- Questioning skills, which will include helping the team to (1) think outside the box, (2) understand their strengths as a team, (3) help them realise their learnings individually and as a team, and (4) take each step forward.
- Provide feedback to individuals and the team as whole, as and when required.
- Use silence effectively. It isn’t always appropriate for the coach to speak or raise a question when the team are quiet and thinking something through.
- Framing and Reframing information, perspectives, and maybe also situations.
- Conflict understanding and support. Conflict is often a subject brought into individual coaching and it is no different when coaching a team.
Team and Group Coaching is very rewarding.
Coaching using all the tools and techniques available creates
a journey of self-discovery and achievement!
© Barbara J. Cormack
About Barbara J. Cormack
Barbara J. Cormack MNMC, CIAC, AFC, AFM is your leading Spiritual Coach, Mentor, Trainer, and published co-author and author. Barbara is an advocate of achieving in every arena of life and combines her extensive experience gained across her many different careers; to support her clients, colleagues, family, and friends achieve their dreams; become the best they can in all aspects of their lives; and find a true work/life balance. Clients hold Barbara in high esteem. Her style of working makes the possibility of sustainable change compelling, inviting, exciting and achievable; by combining her extensive background and experience with a keen insight into the demands of balancing the personal with the professional.
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