Right at the start, it might be worth stating what team coaching is not. It is not:
However, team coaching is “Helping the team improve performance, and the process by which performance is achieved, through reflection and dialogue” Clutterbook (2020).
Team coaching specifically aims to:
Make things happen faster
Make things happen differently
Hawkins (2018) says that team coaching enables teams to:
Align on common purpose
Collaborate and learn across diversity
Develop collective leadership
Achieve performance objectives
Effectively engage with their key stakeholders
Jointly transform the wider business
Before we look at 5 ways that team coaching improves performance, we first need to answer the question, “What is performance?”.
What does it mean for a team to improve performance? On the face of it, this can seem like an obvious question, it means meeting targets, hitting quotas, and consistently delivering.
There are other considerations too, because we are not only concerned with current performance, but also with future performance. Future performance concerns building two key elements in teams:
Capacity – How much a team can do – increasing the team resources
Capability – What the team can do – increasing the team skills
With this in mind, here are our top five ways team coaching improves performance.
1 - Team coaching future-proofs performance
The first of the five ways that team coaching improves performance is that by focusing on capacity and capability, the future performance of the team is improved in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) environment.
What does the team know about its future ability to perform? By exploring this question, the team can improve both its capacity and capability.
2 – Team coaching asks powerful questions
Team coaching develops teams to the point where they coach themselves. As the team comes to understand that finding solid answers is a waste of time and energy, they instead make sure they are asking the right questions about what a shifting context is.
This is another of the five ways team coaching improves performance; they ask the right questions at the right time. Questions could include:
Are we a team or are we a group?
How honest is this team with itself?
Why does this team exist? What is our purpose?
Do our stakeholders see this team as pioneering or plodding?
What does a healthy team culture look like to us? How does this team compare?
What kills creativity here?
How decisive is this team?
How do we distinguish between output and impact?
Who really decides what the priorities are for this team?
How often in the last month did anyone choose not to speak up about something they felt wasn’t right?
3 – Team coaching explores systems
Teams are not only influenced by systems, but they are also a system in themselves. How does the interaction of external and internal systems influence the performance of the team?
Who are the stakeholders? What are their expectations? Who are the other teams or individuals external from the team that bear influence on the team? Where does this hinder performance? Equally, where are the internal systems of the team working and not working?
By exploring systems, team coaching enables the team to recognise patterns that they need to address to improve performance.
4 – Team coaching makes things happen faster
New teams, teams that are merged, or teams that have changes of membership are often expected to “hit the ground running”. In reality, these situations are often littered with issues that can be very prolonged, including, failures of communication, mistrust, and inadequate processes.
Team coaching allows a team to move rapidly through the necessary stages of development into high performance. This then is another of our 5 ways that team coaching improves performance.
5 – Team coaching makes things happen differently
Cultural change in teams and organisations has a poor record of success, often due to an insufficient amount of time being allowed to explore in-depth people’s concerns and the behavioural changes they need to make.
Team coaching provides a safe space to explore the nature of the change, confront fears, to plan, but also follow through those plans and provide support as people struggle to embed the new reality.
Where teams and organisations need to do things differently to improve performance, team coaching provides a genuine way to bring about that change.
We at The Leadership Coaches have highly trained and effective coaches who provide Team Coaching for your teams. What are the consequences of your teams not performing? What are the chances of them performing without team coaching?
There is far more to explore about team coaching, including the impact on and of the team leader, but we hope that these five ways that team coaching improves performance have whetted your appetite for more information. Be curious, and don’t forget to get in touch.
Written by leadership coach Ian.
“Coaching the team at Work 2” David Clutterbuck (2020)
“Leadership Team Coaching in Practice” Hawkins, P (2018)