In this continuation of my articles looking at Team Coaching this post explores the issues associated with becoming part of the team your are coaching and factors to consider when helping coachees to set objectives.
The coach becomes part of the team
As the team coaching process develops it is likely that the coach will increasingly become dynamically involved in the team’s development. Being party to sensitive, confidential information, helping coachees make decisions that will impact on other coachees, helping coachees to confront and resolve conflict all begin to create an environment in which, at least for the duration of the coaching engagement, the coach becomes part of the team. This is different to a typical one to one coaching assignment in which the coach has very limited interface with the organisation outside of the coaching conversations with the coachee, enabling the coach to maintain separation and only work ‘through’ the coachee.
To navigate through this successfully it is important for the coach to be aware of the boundaries of his/her role, and to work hard to ensure that they help the team, and the individuals within it, to resolve issues themselves rather than making direct interventions.
Of course with most risks there is also an opportunity; and in this case the opportunity of being visible within the team provides the coach(es) with the chance to model the behaviours that they may be helping their coachees to develop. The coach can also have a more direct influence on issues relating to communication, decision making, organisational politics etc through helping to facilitate meetings rather than just hearing about them second hand.
The goal of coaching should always be future focused with the aim of encouraging coachees to act on the situation they find themselves in. Once again this stage of the process tends to be more complex in a team setting than a one to one relationship. For example the coach may be aware that an action proposed by one coachee may have cause conflict with another coachee with whom they are working. Deciding whether to influence the situation and how, without betraying confidences can very problematical.
I had personal experience of this type of dilemma recently in a team coaching environment with an Executive team. One member of the team wanted to grow the company through regional growth, whereas two other members of the team were committed to growing the company on a national basis. In presenting their arguments to me, each of them tended to try to convince me of the logic of their case, in effect seeking to persuade me round to their point of view. I recognised the danger of ‘taking sides’ and tried to re-focus them on the processes and behaviours they needed to buy into, in order to resolve their differences and reach a decision to which everyone was committed.