A team is any interdependent group that works collaboratively to achieve a common purpose and operates in accordance with a set of rules. So how do we enhance team performance overall?
There is a variety of approaches to enhancing team performance ranging from focusing on enhancing the skills of the leader and/or giving them support, to include team coaching, team building, or team facilitation. The relative merits of different approaches is discussed below.
Team coaching focuses on increasing the collective capability of the team through assisted analysis and motivation for change.
It aims to develop the team’s ability to improve its collective performance to achieve its agreed purpose.
The team coach creates an opportunity for team members to identify critical issues affecting team performance and for the team to find solutions to address these issues. By doing so, the quality of the conversation of the team is enhanced and consequently the team is in a position to make better choices and thereby improve its performance significantly.
Team Coaching v Team Leading
Team leading is focused on the task(s) to be completed and how they are to be completed. The team leaders job!
Team coaching on the other hand is more about developing the skills and capability of the team as a whole, to reflect on what they are doing and how this can be improved.
While not impossible, the approach of the leader being a team coach in the workplace needs to be handled with care. Simply immersing team leaders in short coaching skills training and expecting effective implementation of their new found skills in the workplace is being very optimistic. Experts indicate that this approach is likely to be very short lived. It has been described by one expert as liking to two parties wanting to do a tango but only one knows the steps. There is need therefore to educate the team about coaching at the same time as the manager to keep all in step.
Team Coaching v Team Building
Team coaching differs from team building in that the latter is more about how the current team gets on together whereas the former is focused on the purpose, processes and the collective performance of the team.
There is some evidence to indicate that team building tends to move away from team collaboration and towards competition whereas team coaching on the other hand moves towards collaboration.
Some commentators contend that team building may make it difficult for new members of the team to join as they have to contend with group think issues.
Team Coaching v Team Facilitation
Team facilitation is often more issue focused.
On the other hand the team coaching is about developing the processes and thinking patterns in a team to have the capability to address ongoing issues, challenges and opportunities, and to perform at a high level, far higher than the sum of its parts.
Team Coaching Challenges
Notwithstanding the challenges for team coaching such as conflict within a team, dominant or weak leader, remote team members, cultural diversity, the team coaching approach offers tremendous opportunity for sustained collective high performance.