Why are teams so important to businesses?
Everything is team based now in most organizations. This is especially challenging as more teams are working remote, or are geographically distributed. Yet the health, well-being, and importance of nurturing teams are too often taken for granted.
The unfortunate fact is that while many teams are high-functioning, many more are not, and some are just downright dysfunctional. The key question we answer as executive coaches is why do some teams stumble, and how do we help them address their challenges so they can thrive?
What is team coaching? Why is team coaching a thing?
Team coaching is partnering with an entire team in an on-going relationship, for the purpose of collectively raising awareness and building better connections in the team’s internal and external systems and enhancing the team’s capability to cope with current and future challenges.
Team coaching also fosters a higher quality of communication, both within the team and between the team and external stakeholders. Team coaching also promotes the social dialogue that builds rapport, stimulates understanding of self and other team members, and develops the skills to avoid negative conflict and enhance positive conflict within the team
How is team coaching different from individual executive coaching?
Individual executive coaching is an intimate and safe space where an individual client can gain new awareness and insights about work-related challenges. While team coaching focuses on a small group of people who want to develop and grow through facilitated discussions and activities, accessing the collective wisdom of the group.
What are some reasons that cause some teams to fail to reach their full potential?
Teams fail for various reasons, and the missteps may be related to internal team dynamics or external factors. Here are some common causes of team failure:
Unclear Goals and Roles: if team members are unclear about their roles and responsibilities or the team’s objectives, it becomes challenging to work towards a common purpose. This lack of direction can cause confusion and demotivation.
Inadequate Leadership: poor leadership can have a significant impact on team performance. A lack of guidance, support, and decision-making can lead to disengagement and inefficiency within the team.
Poor Communication: ineffective communication within the team can lead to misunderstandings, lack of clarity, and misalignment of goals. This can result in decreased collaboration and overall team performance.
Lack of Trust: trust is crucial for team cohesion and productivity. When team members don’t trust each other, it hampers open communication and collaboration, leading to a breakdown in team dynamics.
Inability to Resolve Conflicts: every team has conflict. Successful teams know how to manage conflicts constructively before they escalate and disrupt team dynamics.
Lack of Accountability: when team members do not take ownership of their responsibilities or fail to deliver on commitments, it can undermine team performance and erode trust among team members.
Lack of Diversity and Inclusion: teams lacking diversity in terms of perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds may struggle to innovate and may overlook critical factors in decision-making.
How do you approach a team coaching assignment?
We at Attain Leadership view each team as a unique social system with its own structures, dynamics, and behaviors. When approaching a team coaching assignment, we find it helpful to bring the mindsets of an anthropologist and sociologist to see both the internal and external dynamics influencing team performance. Only then can meaningful interventions be developed.
One model we use looks at six different dimensions that impact team performance
Purpose and motivation
External systems and processes
Internal systems and processes
Learning and development
Leadership of the team
A key step of our team coaching engagements is to first understand how well the team is performing on each of these dimensions, and then quickly identify strategies to address any deficiencies:
We also focus on emotional intelligence & team inclusivity – these are two critical ingredients of successful teams. Research has established that the higher the emotional intelligence of a leader the better the team performance. And teams of leaders with high emotional intelligence often model that behavior and make it their new norm through elevated team empathy, self-awareness, and self-management.
Likewise, research also shows that teams make better decisions than individuals. Effective teams create psychological safety by giving all team members an opportunity to speak and share their perspectives. Inclusivity, then, is not just about managing diversity, it is also about getting more voices and perspectives to weigh in on team decision-making. When it comes to teams, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.
What are the ingredients for a successful team coaching engagement?
To be effective, team coaching programs need to be customized to address the unique challenges and opportunities presented. A one-size-fits-all approach will rarely reveal the root causes of a team’s performance challenges, let alone generate the interventions that will move the needle on performance.
The success of team coaching also depends on the commitment of team members and the organization’s support for the coaching process. When implemented effectively, team coaching can create a positive and high-performing team culture that drives success and continuous improvement. It is an investment that can lead to significant long-term benefits for both the team and the organization as a whole.
What is the end result? What does a successful team coaching program look like?
There are a lot of results that we seek to attain in a team coaching program such as better engaging with their key customer or stakeholders and improving their ability to achieve their performance objectives.
But those outcomes often don't happen until more foundational factors are addressed such as:
Getting the team to align on a common purpose
Improved communication and engagement among team members
Improving collaboration and collective leadership
Creating trust among team members
Helping them resolve conflict more effectively
Increasing the team's ability to innovate