In the last ten to fifteen years, the use of coaching as a method to develop individuals has increased significantly. However, most of this coaching has been aimed at leaders rather than teams. In team-based coaching the focus is on group, ministry or organisational development, not just individual improvement. Leaders therefore have the opportunity to access personal coaching but the emphasis on what needs to be done in the future, or achieved by way of outcomes, is focused on the leader’s team as a whole. These leaders consequently share with the external coach the responsibility to think about the team’s needs.
In order to implement a team-based coaching approach, a diagnostic process is recommended for both the leader and the team members. There are a number of ways this can be done but ideally it will involve using an assessment which is fit for purpose. This will typically offer a way to look at where the team is now, where it needs to get to in the future and the different ways it might get there. One approach is to use the Management Team Role process, developed by Steve Myers (see http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/tda/ for more detail).
What Problems do Teams Commonly Experience?
Although it’s clearly not practical to list all the problems that different teams tend to face, it is possible to outline some commonly occurring problems that almost all teams encounter at one stage or another. In their book, “Why Teams don’t work”, the authors, Mike Finely and Harvey Robbins, highlight the “roadblocks” to effective teamwork and cite several reasons for poor team performance including:
- Mismatched needs
- Cluttered objectives
- Bad decision making
- Bad policies
- Unclear vision
- Anti-team culture
- Insufficient feedback & information
- Unwillingness to change
- Confused goals
- Unresolved roles
- Uncertain boundaries
- Unworkable procedures
- Personality conflicts
- Bad leadership
- Lack of team trust
The authors suggest that every one of these dysfunctions represents a failure to learn and therefore an opportunity for change through team coaching.
In their book “Team Players and Teamwork: The New Competitive Business Strategy”, Glenn Parker similarly noted some common “Signs of Trouble for team performance”:
- Team members cannot easily describe the team’s mission
- Team meetings are too formal, stuffy, or tense
- There is a great deal of participation but little accomplishment
- There is talk but not much communication
- Disagreements are aired in private conversations after team meetings
- Decisions tend to be made by the formal leader with little meaningful involvement of other team members
- Team members are not open with each other because trust is low
- There is confusion or disagreement about team roles or work assignments
- The team is overloaded with people who have the same or similar team-player style
- The team may have been in existence for some time but never assesses its functioning
Both of these authors indicate that if a team is not carefully managed, many of these issues may not only arise but may also fester if left unchecked. In some circumstances, even a relatively skilled leader may become quickly overwhelmed and may need assistance from an external coach. By using a good coaching process a team may take any one of the issues or problems described above and start to work it through to a better outcome. Over time, several problems may therefore be addressed and overall team performance lifted significantly.
Colin is the Director of ResourceZone International. He has 30 years of ministry experience as a pastor, college lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, denominational leaders and local church pastors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Team Building: Skill Builder Booklet – Ministry Specific Resource (PDF)
- Team Communication: RSB Booklet (PDF)
- Team Building: Coaching Guide with Storyboard – Ministry Specific Resource (PDF)
- Team Building Effectiveness Profile – Ministry Specific Resource (PDF)
- Team Building Effectiveness Profile Facilitators Guide- Ministry Specific Resource (PDF)