Why you should work with a team coach

Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

Demand for coaching wordwide is growing rapidly as more and more people recognise the value in having someone help them to improve themselves. Even outside of sports, Business and Executive coaches have been common for many years, and it is now becoming more common for managers to have coaching as part of their career development plans. Life coaching is becoming a big thing now too.

Why? Because coaching works!

If you’re not familiar, coaching is the art and science of using the wisdom of the coach to unlock the inherent wisdom within the client to help them achieve their goals.

Coaching is different to counselling or therapy (although some coaching tools originated from those disciplines), in that it does not aim to ‘fix’ people. It is client-driven; the agenda is the client’s. Coaching comes from a stance of believing that the client is whole, naturally intelligent and creative, and does not need to be told what to do.

So coaching can really help people change their own beliefs, their attitudes, their disciplines and the actions they take in order to significantly improve their lives.

But within the world of organisations where many people work together to achieve something — and, let’s face it — it is rare these days for people to work completely on their own, coaching individuals can only achieve so much. These days work gets completed by teams — business teams, development teams, sales teams, design teams, leadership teams, etc. etc. — more than by individuals. And yet, management and HR departments continue to focus on the individuals.

Team coaching is a relatively new discipline, but is becoming more and more popular with prestigious schools and universities teaching systemic team coaching to a very high level, with programs recognised by the International Coaching Federation and lengthy and challenging accreditation programs.

Graduates from these programs focus on the team and less on the individuals that make up that team. If you consider a partnership for example, there are two individuals that make up that ‘team’. The team can be thought of as the “third entity”, because that entity has its own culture, rules and behaviours that are distinct from the individuals that form it.

When a team coach works with a team, not only do you get a systemic view of how each individual interacts with each other and their environment, a more complete view of how performance is achieved, but the coaching impact is multiplied by the number of people in the team. Coaching one individual in a team of 6 is unlikely to have significant impact on the outcome of the team, but coaching the whole team together as a distinct entity in its own right, provides more than 6 times the value as the team begins to perform at more than the sum of its parts.

As an Organisational Relationship Systems Coach (ORSC), I see the team or working group as a relationship system; a system of interconnected relationships. And that relationship system is my client. I work with the whole relationship system (including its stakeholders) and not the individuals within it, my primary purpose being to reveal the system to itself.

How a team perform is hugely dependent on how its members relate to and engage with each other. Over the years, I have seen many examples where teams continue to carry out their jobs as individuals with only partial awareness of the team objectives, needs and culture. I have seen team members in open conflict, arguing without really listening, taking hours or days to perform tasks that should take minutes. I have seen departments within the same organisation working against each other to their own ends, to the detriment of overall organisational performance. Without some level of social emotional intelligence, this takes a long time to improve, if it ever does. Teams don’t always go all the way through the Tuckman model; they sometimes go straight from Storming to Adjourning. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

My mission is to bring to the team a greater awareness of how that team functions as a relationship system, to optimise how they engage with each other, empathise and communicate with each other, trust and depend on each other, and become greater than the sum of their parts, to the benefit of the team, all its members and the organisation as a whole.

If you would like to know more about what systemic team coaching can do for your organisation, email me — chris at chrisdavies dot coach



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Chris Davies

Chris Davies

Team Coach | Leadership Coach | Agile Coach | ORSC Practitioner. I write about teams, leadership, organisations and agile.