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For consistently great teamwork, team coaching is key

It's time to coach

Trust and safety in Teams

We all know what it’s like to be in a team. Leading and managing a team is a core management skill and a skill that all organizations depend on. What sets a great team apart from a good team? There are many answers and most of them focus on qualities; trust, psychological safety, resilience, bonding and a common understanding and approach to their work. How you create these qualities and sustain them over the lifetime of the team is a matter of debate. CLS has some truly great coaches actively working with our global clients. Some coach whole teams. All of them develop managers and leaders to have coaching skills to support and direct teams. When coaching is done well, by skilled and experienced coaches, the effect on the team is remarkable. This is the first of two articles on the value of coaching teams. 

Team resilience

A team is more than just a collection of people. It’s also more than just a leader. While a good leader can transform a team and a bad leader can break it, the team is an entity by itself and that’s why team coaching can be a powerful tool for team development.

Dr. Yene Assegid uses team coaching to revive, sustain and transform teams. “Team leaders can be very powerful at supporting and leading team performance but how long can one individual sustain that for? It is much more sustainable if everyone in the team takes ownership and responsibility for the team as a whole.”

Yene likes to start with a psychometric which everyone in the team completes. “So many teams are exhausted now. The ones I see, around 70% are  barely ‘OK’ and 30% are just exhausted. That’s not good.” Using the right psychometric helps teams to develop a common language and approach. This enables the team to find ways to support one another and develop a common understanding of their team reality.

After a psychometric comes both individual and team coaching sessions. “This combination is powerful for culture change. It is not up to me to tell them how to work or be better as a team. It is my role to help them work that out together. I listen to what is going on for each person and the whole team and bring that to the surface so they can work on it. Too often, the team is not aware of information about each other, the way the team works or doesn’t work, or how the team feels to people or performs. Having that information is crucial to helping the team succeed.”

Yene Assegid PhD

Yene Assegid, PhD. ICF, MCC, specialises in transformation – of individuals, teams and organizations. As an executive coach and leadership trainer, Yene works with leaders at all levels and knows how to challenge, so they perform consistently well. Yene is based in Belgium and Zambia and works globally. 

There are different approaches which can be used for team coaching. What works best will depend on the team, the organization and the team coach.

Yene uses team coaching with organizations who want better performance, better teams or both. The approach is intensive, requiring a commitment from each person over  6- 8 months but the results are very powerful. Executive teams and program teams all benefit from this approach as it deepens and aligns team relationships.

“We do the journey together. The team stops feeling burnt out, they start to appreciate their diversity and culture and draw on their individual strengths. For many teams, this program will be the first time they have ever worked together in a way which appreciates and makes use of, the individuals’ talents. This creates a healthy team which everyone can enjoy being part of. And, just as people need a check-up on their health sometimes, so does a team. We re-visit the team regularly after the program to make sure things are still on track and adjust them when they need to be. Teams are dynamic; you cannot ‘fix’ a team once and expect it to stay that way forever. That’s not how people work!”

"As a leader I have learned I need to do more coaching and facilitation instead of giving advice. I need to do more helping others to find their own solutions and less fixing problems myself"

Team direction

When I am asked to coach a team, I run a full day workshop with them before heading into coaching.

Many times I have found that between individuals in the team, there is low trust, poor communication and little accountability.  Sometimes they don’t have a sense of belonging and it is like being on a boat where everyone is pedalling in their own way and they are stuck going around in circles.

My first approach is to take team members back to basics. They might be rock stars with high prestigious knowledge and education, but if that doesn’t add to the team’s performance and cohesion basically it doesn’t mean much. Our first session is discovering what the team needs from everyone and what each team member brings to the table. We build a foundation of trust and commitment, which ultimately  leads to accountability. I do this through a series of fun and practical team challenges – no we don’t do anything like falling or being held, it’s much more practical than that. The outcome is we get great conclusions, debriefs and learning about what it means to be a team. 

From there I gather their personal commitments to the team and that is when the team coaching wheels kick in. It is a beautiful process of discovery and follow through and as the team coach I am the  enabler for these empowered pieces to come together as a whole. The process allows them to “unstick” themselves, so they stop going around in circles and instead go forward at full speed.

Juan Pablo García Cándano specializes in developing managers and leaders. His business background means he understands the pressures everyone is under. JP is based in North America and works globally. 

“I am using the coaching skills that we learned much more often…and spending more time listening than I did before”

Team effectiveness

Team Coaching is a powerful tool to help teams to overcome their internal structure, fit and bonding challenges. 

According to Lencioni’s book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, a team can only be truly effective and efficient after overcoming the 5 big dysfunctions: Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability and Inattention to Results.

Team coaching is not just a tool to help new teams to overcome this dysfunctions, but a tool to help established teams renew their bonding and commitment. Teams can experience things like in-fighting, loss of purpose and stress almost every day. These feelings erode the foundations of the team.

When I coach a team, there’s a kind of magic (as Freddy Mercury would say) that happens between the team members. They realize they had forgotten what the team means, that they can work with their colleagues and also that some conversations are not happening. They can also discover there are “shadows” surrounding the team.

Team coaching offers a process to help the team to become more effective. This is not a “kiss and make up” action, because this is about empowering the whole team. They create an action plan and are empowered to create the change that is needed to happen for the team to become, or become again, a truly effective part of the organization. Every team needs to play a full part in their organization, as we face this VUCA, BANI era.

Javier Rubio is a European consultant and trainer who specialises in developing leaders, managers and teams in challenging business environments. He understands results focused companies and helps teams to achieve their full potential.  Javier is based in Spain and works globally. 

“I shared the report with my team and a short summary of some of the key points from our workshop…This has definitely helped develop a better sense of team"

Team communication

Just because you use the label ‘team’ doesn’t always mean it is a real team.  So if you have a group, a great way to establish a team, is to use team coaching.  This gives everyone an opportunity to create an understanding of ‘how we do things round here’. It helps everyone to feel included and develop a sense of ownership for the work that the whole team is responsible for. As an Employment Tribunal Lay Panel Member, I know from experience what a positive difference this can make.

It is always a privilege to work with to work with teams who are going through changes – from pressure external to the organisation or within.  I say this because it escalates the trust factor when the threat is imminent, and I have been privileged to work with several teams facing the challenge of transformation and resilience.

Team coaching is an excellent way to allow folks to have courageous conversations particularly on the topic of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – and lends itself brilliantly to develop a sense of belonging and justice. It’s critical to establish trust and safety within the team if you want the team to have the courageous conversations that are sometimes necessary. 

Curiously, although much is made of team coaching in the private sector, teams in the public sector continue to show forward thinking in embracing this approach with a solid commitment to using team coaching to develop and strengthen the way they work.

Judeline NIcholas

Judeline Nicholas is HR and L&D trained. She is a specialist consultant and trainer in EDI, an Employment Law (UK) tribunal member and is passionate about helping people engage fully with their team and organization. Jude is UK based and works globally.

“Coaching sessions..have..value in allowing people to reconnect, to feel supported and to remain motivated.”

Tristan Sage

Tristan Sage

Would you like to take your managers’ team coaching skills from good to great? Do you have teams who can benefit from a refresh? Our team coaches and management trainers are here to help, wherever and whatever your challenges. Do get in touch. All solutions begin with a conversation. 



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