“What we know about individuals, no matter how rich the details, will never give us the ability to predict how they will behave as a system. Once individuals link together they become something different. Relationships change us, reveal us, and evoke more from us. Only when we join with others do our gifts become visible, even to ourselves.”

 Margaret Wheatly and Myron Kellner Rogers

Team coaching is designed to help the individuals in the team to work together to achieve the organisational results. The objective is to bring forward the strengths of each individual so that the ‘whole is greater than the sum of the parts’. There is a theory that there is no ’I’ in team but in fact that is not the case. Everyone in the team needs to be bringing their best game if there is to be real achievement and success.

The basis of team success is the quality of the relationships that they hold with their colleagues and clients. They are more successful if those relationships are strong. 

The role of the team coach is to work with the team as a whole, with its own identity separate from the individuals within it. Each person in the team plays a very important part in providing a voice of the system. Even the negative voices have value because they are expressing something that exists in the system that needs to be addressed.

Tuckman referred to the natural cycle that teams go through:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing 

The Forming stageis more applicable for new teams and special projects coming together for the first time. Here it is important that the ground rules are put in place so everyone knows where they are going and what is expected of them.

For most organisations the teams are in place. They are somewhere between the other stages. 

Storming is a natural part of the development process where individuals are getting used to the organisation and each other and starting to find their place in the team. 

Norming is when things are settling down and the team is finding its way.

Performingis the overall objective for the team and the organisation and means that the team is cohesive and effective.

A coaching approach can ensure that the team is regularly brought together to look at itself, its work, its relationships and challenges in a positive and open way. This enables the team to move more quickly through the stages. The team becomes its own solution provider and has the satisfaction of moving from being an ‘ordinary’ team towards a self-managing or self-directed one.

Coaching is a tool to assist in moving the teams more quickly through to the Performing stage. Ongoing coaching can assist to keep the team ‘performing’ whilst they are going through the natural changes that take place in any organisation. People enter the team, others leave and then of course change happens! 

Team coaching adds to organisational success.  It is a cost-effective way to provide support, motivation and ongoing development to a team of people who need to work together to benefit their department and the organisation.  

Team Coaching adds value in terms of continuous performance improvement, reduced staff conflict and the achievement of business objectives. In a future series of articles, we will unpack how to apply coaching at each stage for maximum effect.

References:

Tuckman, Bruce, 1965 Developmental Sequence in Small Groups