Team coaching as a learning partnership

I like to look at team coaching as a learning partnership.

I know there is still confusion between group coaching (coaching of individuals in a group setting), individual coaching of members of the same team, team facilitation (where the focus is to solve a specific, current or near future problem), team building (where the purpose is to improve collaborative behavior) and team coaching where the focus is on the team as a collective entity, and the intervention spans a period of time.

Team development and team building have been around for many years in the field of organization development, and, from what I can see when I work with teams in large companies, team coaching is still in its early developmental stage of maturity, similar to where individual coaching was about 26 years ago. This stage is characterized by lack of clear definitions of terms; creation of confusion for buyers on the different types of team coaching and when to use them to be successful; a lack of defined standards for either team coaches or team coaching training.

I have heard the term ‘team coaching’ used to be applied to each of these approaches.

When I choose to work with teams I invite them to think of me as a thinking partner, for an engagement of at least one year.

What I consider a clear evidence is that more and more organizations have recognized the value in building a culture of coaching that offers employees at all levels—not just executives and managers—the opportunity to grow their skills, enhance their value and reach their professional goals.

But not all coaching is equal. To ensure successful results, that go beyond skills training and truly enable the company to increase employee engagement and retention, the organization must develop a comprehensive coaching plan that addresses both current and future needs.

The challenge arises not only in determining the types of coaching that will be most impactful, but also in attaining the internal buy-in and support for such a program.

Organizations continue to seek coaches who exude necessary qualities, such as listening actively, establishing trust and maintaining high professional standards. Additionally, organizations must ensure that internal and external coach practitioners, as well as managers/leaders using coaching skills, have received the appropriate amount of training.

In this environment I believe that it is “Systemic Team Coaching” that is the most needed by today’s organizations and where there is the largest shortage of experienced practitioners.

Peter Hawkins is defining Systemic Team Coaching as:

A process by which a team coach works with a whole team, both when they are together and when they are apart, in order to help them improve both their collective performance and how they work together, and also how they develop their collective leadership to more effectively engage with all their key stakeholder groups to jointly transform the wider business. (Hawkins 2014:80).

In 2013, the large annual coaching reports started to focus on team coaching almost for the first time.

Lynne Chambers who has been the head of learning and development for a number of large organizations wrote in the Ridler Report, 2013: 7:

‘I think the whole area of team-based coaching is going to grow significantly in our organization and coaches need to be agile at dealing with the shift from individual to group work, including all the boundary sensitivities and interpersonal issues that this shift may bring.’

The same year the Sherpa report said:

‘Team coaching is a newer concept. Large firms have not yet taken the lead in the design and development of team coaching’

“Executive coaches, both internal and external, are presented with a rather large opportunity. Are they really taking advantage of it?”

(Sherpa Report, 2012: 9)

What makes Systemic Team Coaching most valuable to businesses today is that it enables the team to reframe and enhance the way it relates to and serves its business environment, which means placing as much emphasis on how it leads change with its stakeholders as how it functions internally.

Therefore, rather than just focusing on the team’s internal relationships and functioning, the systemic team coach works with the team and its members to build their collective leadership, helping them to co-create value in their engagement with their stakeholders. These include the commissioners of the team; the investors; those that the team leads; the customers and suppliers of the team; the communities in which it operates and the more than human world the team depends upon. (This is something that I learned in my team coaching trainings with Peter Hawkins and his amazing team at Global Team Coaching Institute).

This approach recognizes that the biggest challenges in nearly all organizations today lie not inside the individuals, teams or even departments, but inside the connections between them.

Working well together as a team is an important first step for every team member to be able to represent the whole team effectively when they engage with the team’s stakeholders. (Hawkins 2014 and Hawkins edited 2014).

When I start working with a team for a year, I always inform them about my roles as a team coach. I believe it is very important for them to know what they can expect from our interactions. I start by telling them that we are going to define the team purpose and priorities, then we will understand the environment of the team, we will look to identify and tackle barriers to performance, then we will build the team learning plan together. One of my roles is to help the team grow confidence in themselves and their leader and develop the systems, skills and behaviors to internalize coaching.

And I am always asking myself this question: What are the key challenges for the team and for me, as a team coach, in fulfilling these roles?

What do you think? What are your thoughts on the kind of coaching that works best in the team you are in?

About Daiana STOICESCU

I’m Daiana Stoicescu and I love to be part of the coaching community!

I help people get to their next level in a very simple manner. As a result, people acquire more self-awareness and discover their desires and needs.

I am an executive coach for leaders, with a Master Certified Coach (MCC) Credential by the International Coach Federation (ICF), a Master Certified Coach Trainer (MCCT), Coach Supervisor and a Registered ICF Mentor Coach. I am also the Past President and Member of the Board of Directors of the ICF Romania Chapter.

As a Master Certified Coach (MCC), I am working with leaders-from startup entrepreneurs to C-level executives- who have bold visions and who play for high stakes.

As a Systemic Team Coach I enable teams to identify and resolve their challenges over a program lasting seven to nine months – resulting in deeper learning and more sustainable change. It usually involves coaching the team together as well as one-to-one coaching for individuals.

As a Master Certified Coach Trainer (MCCT) with the Center for Executive Coaching (CEC) I am Certified to train other executives and managers to become Certified Executive Coaches.

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