Given the many challenges in today’s world, there has never been such a need for high-performing teams. Despite this need, only 13% of teams operate at the highest level, authors Colin Price and Sharon Towe report in their book, “Accelerating Performance: How Organizations Can Mobilize, Execute and Transform With Agility,” after studying approximately 3,000 teams. To close the gap between how teams are currently performing and what the future requires, there are many types of team development to consider, including team facilitation, team training, team building, action learning and process consultancy. However, there is one method with the ingredients to deliver the greatest impact: team coaching.
What Is Team Coaching?
In our book “Building Top Performing Teams,” we use this definition of “team coaching”:
“Team coaching helps teams work together, with others and within their wider environment, to create lasting change by developing safe and trusting relationships, better ways of working and new thinking, so that they maximise their collective potential, purpose and performance goals.”
Why Use a Team Coaching Approach?
The impact of team coaching is supported by a developing body of research. Results from a study with a leading U.K. retailer (which we discuss in our book) highlighted three main factors that contributed to improvements in both individual and team development, team effectiveness, and team performance. Firstly, the teams became aligned on their purpose, values and beliefs, identity, and collective team goals. Secondly, the teams developed an increased level of psychological safety, so that team members were able to be more open and honest, show vulnerability, and give each other robust feedback. Finally, the teams shared learnings and best practices.
A Team Coaching Model and Framework
The “Creating the Team Edge” model identifies seven characteristics of top-performing teams:
- Purpose: The team’s purpose is a statement of why the team exists that captures the spirit of what the team will contribute to its organization, its stakeholders and the wider system.
- Identity: The team’s identity binds the team together and constantly reinforces its positive mindset, energy and motivation.
- Values and beliefs: Values and beliefs provide a sense of what is right and wrong. The team explores and agrees on the culture it desires and the values, beliefs and behaviors that will underpin its efforts.
- Awareness: The team develops an awareness of how it interacts with its stakeholders and the system it works in. Teams are also aware of each other’s personal preferences and strengths to leverage for the benefit of the team.
- Relatedness: Teams develop a sense of unity and build mutual trust, support and understanding by investing time in open and honest conversations.
- Ways of working: The team sets up systems and processes that enable them to have effective meetings and make confident decisions to deliver concrete outcomes.
- Transformation: Teams rigorously challenge their plans; apply innovative ways to think differently; and ensure they are always improving, learning and supporting each other’s development.
Statements to Help You Identify Team Strengths and Development Areas
Any team can develop into a high-performing team. The challenge for teams interested in development is knowing what to develop. Ideally, a team diagnostic takes the form of one-on-one interviews with team members and key stakeholders as well as a 360-degree team diagnostic. Using the information from these diagnostics, the coach can co-create a unique team coaching journey.
So, how is your team performing? These statements can help identify initial strengths and areas to work on. For each one, rank your level of agreement between 1 and 10, with 1 being “strongly disagree,” and 10 being “strongly agree.”
- Purpose: My team has a clear and compelling purpose and objectives that are aligned to that purpose.
- Identity: My team has a unique character and personality that the team is proud to identify with.
- Values and beliefs: My team’s values and beliefs shine through in all its projects.
- Awareness: My team members understand each other’s personal preferences and working styles.
- Relatedness: My team’s relationships are built on trust; we are open and honest with each other.
- Ways of working: My team is known for the effectiveness of its meetings; they are thought-provoking, engaging and always result in a clear set of actions.
- Transformation: My team frequently works together to identify new ways it can grow and sustain its development.
Both research and experience demonstrate that team coaching can act as a catalyst. It can help teams deepen connections and belonging, and develop the collective agency and ownership required to perform in an increasingly complex world.
So, how can team coaching help your team embrace the future?