I studied with the Center for Right Relationship (CRR Global) and took their extensive curriculum on Organizational Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC™) to tackle some of the common ailments that plague work environments. These include:
Ineffective or toxic communication
Low team morale or burnout
Conflict avoidance and non-resolution
Lack of creativity and productivity
Confusion about roles on a team
I think the best part of that program (for me) were the lessons about systems and focusing on the whole of the relationship system versus the actual players in it. The relationship is the client, not the individual players as is the case in 1:1 coaching. If you forget this (and I have) the system will teach the coach a lesson or two. When you coach the team relationship, you are tapping into the power of the relationship and it is driving the bus and taking us all for a ride. As a coach with well tuned intuition and owning the role of truth teller, the team can make the right turns. It does this because the coach is revealing the system to itself (the map in this metaphor). From this awareness, change can happen because the map is now visible and not hidden to the passengers aka team players.
Another reason about why this works is that it takes the individual bias out of it. It isn’t about “someone” in the room, it is about everyone in the room. The system either allows for individual behavior to overwhelm the team’s dynamics or it doesn’t. Often it isn’t about “him or her”, it is about the team and what it allows. This team coaching approach is not a “one and done” because the new team culture needs time to develop and takes time and commitment from the team leader to see it through.
The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) says not all coaches are skilled coaches in working with teams and I couldn’t agree more. Here is their list of 5 attributes you should look for from a team coach:
A focus on the whole. A team coach may have the ability to coach individuals in many ways, but the goal is to facilitate learning for the team as a whole. The coach should find ways for team members to gain insight and practice different behaviors in the context of the team and its goals. Individual assessment and feedback may be a component of team coaching, but it’s always related to improving team effectiveness.
A systems-thinking perspective. Coaches must understand the complex organizational dynamics in which the team operates.
Comfort with ambiguity. Team dynamics often create unpredictability. Coaches shouldn’t expect to drive the direction and specific outcomes of the team. Instead, they must be willing to learn the ways in which the team works, and then coach accordingly.
The ability to set boundaries. Coaches need to be skilled at understanding, identifying, and managing boundaries. A team coach should be finely attuned to the many relationships within the team. The coach has to work within at least 3 relational units: with individual coachees, with the team as a whole, and with the organization.
A long-term view. Team coaching doesn’t always have immediate results. Other business and organizational demands are great and constant, so a coach shouldn’t pressure the group to change too much too soon. If a team coach is persistent and patient, the team and the individuals within it will function more effectively.
Contact Tracie Moser at Truce Solutions to discuss what we can do for your team. PS: Read the book Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age. Another is Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage in Human Consciousness. Both of these beautifully illustrate the intersection of organizational and personal development trends.