Team Coaching – What is it?

Posted by Maria Milanetti & filed under Organizational Psychology.


Team Coaching is a technique similar to group facilitation but it has some subtle and important differences. My sense is that not all our clients are familiar with the concept. So I dedicate this blog to you, those of you who are intrigued and willing to explore an alternative way for your Team to develop and grow.

Not every coach or facilitator is interested, or qualified, to Team Coach. Some are better working with smaller groups (twos and threes), others prefer to focus on one-on-one work. Further, some coaches are better with a formal, facilitated agenda approach, while others favour a more fluid, intuitive way. We all have our favourite settings in which to do our work, and that is just fine.

Team Coaching is a dynamic experience for any facilitator/coach. It involves having the coach track many things in the moment including: hearing all the personalities, understanding where the team wants to go and how it might get there, always being a step ahead of the team and of course ‘managing the room’ in real time so that the team is moving forward.

If you choose to excel in Team Coaching,  you have to balance your abilities to be strategic and creative. You need to be organic with the team and yet results driven at the same time. Perhaps this sort of challenge comes whenever we successfully interact and lead a team of people, but for a team coach the difference is that they are managing the interaction of the team within a particular setting. They are showing ‘sideline leadership’ in a context where they are actually not the formal leader of the team, but instead its tracking device.

A Suggested Structure for Team Coaching:

Teams bring their agenda and issues to the table just as an individual coaching client would. When coaching a team, I would suggest these crucial three steps:

  1. Identifying the  ‘What?’ – At the beginning of the meeting or often well before, the Leader, with help from members, identifies where the team needs to go by the end of the Team Coaching Session.  This part of the meeting requires about 10% of the time you spend together.
  2. Coming to a Conclusion about the ‘How?’ The team then works through a process of assessing what it is that they need to accomplish their goals and how they might work toward best meeting those goals. This is the longest and most important part of the Team Coaching experience. It represents approximately 80% of your meeting together.
  3. Deciding on the Team’s Actions and Accountabilities – ‘When, Where,What and Who? By the end of their team coaching session the team and its members identify what action steps they are willing to commit to as individuals and as a team. This last component of the meeting is important, as work gets accomplished by individual members of the team, and not by the team as a whole.  This is the concluding piece and will take up roughly10% of your time together.

Example: In one medium sized organization, the common struggle was the team was over-committed to too many ‘to do’s’ or priorities in their organization. People loved the enthusiasm of the Leaders, but found their lists of projects exhausting to deal with on a very human level. The beginning of the meeting involved bringing this difficult topic out in the team (the what). From that point on, the team discussed the actual problem and ways in which the Leaders in the room might be able to better listen to their over-extended staff, and reprioritize based upon the feedback that they had received.

By the end of this two-part team coaching session, the group was committed to first listen better to their constituents going forward and second, they committed to reduce and reprioritize their list of ‘to do’s’ or priorities in light of the reaction from their very valued and loyal staff.

Several of our coaches at MarchFifteen are skilled team coaches and we would welcome the chance to talk to you more about this sort of interaction for your team.

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