The dynamics within team coaching engagements are complex with deep levels of uncertainty around what may emerge within each session and within the coaching series. Team coaches need to hold an awareness of these dynamics as they explore this maze of interconnected relationships with the team.
Team coaching dynamics are relational in nature and include both intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships within the team, with the team leader and with the team coach, between teams, their multiple stakeholders, and with the wider organisational systems. In addition, the team’s purpose, values, beliefs and identity, role clarity, ways of working and learning, and team development are all factors which are interconnected in complex, fluid, emergent and, at times, chaotic patterns.
As teams evolve, additional layers of complexity emerge. These may be shown up in the personality preferences of the individual members of the team, how they behave, how they prefer to learn, and their levels of motivation and participation in the team. Team leadership is also a complex dynamic for the team and the coach to navigate as it may be defined merely by title and function and not supported by experience and a real desire to lead. The sense of safety and trust that either exists within the team or needs to be developed is a significant dynamic as it determines the team’s ability to learn and grow. Finally, the culture and customs within the organisation, coupled with assumptions and patterns of behaviour are further relational dynamics that the team coaches need to continually contract around with the team in order to ensure alignment as these dynamics shift.
The VUCA (volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous) world that we live in compounds this dynamic complexity even further with political, economic, and social conditions in a seemingly constant state of change.
All of these dynamics will have a significant impact on the team’s capacity to evolve and the team coach needs to remain aware that the team will cycle through various internal and external iterations as they grow together.
It is the role of the team coach to clearly and consistently identify these dynamics and highlight them to the team in a way that is non-judgemental and which creates a space for curiosity and reflection. That will then enable the team to think about the dynamics together, to reflect on what those dynamics might be blocking or creating, and then, agree on a way forward as a team to shift the dynamics into behaviour more aligned to serving the team’s collective purpose and aspired output.
Georgina Woudstra: Mastering the Art of Team Coaching (2021)
Alison Hodge & David Clutterbuck: Supervising Team Coaches: Working with complexity at a Distance, in Clutterbuck, Gannon, Hayes, Iordanou, Lowe & MacKie (2019)
Peter Hawkins & Nick Smith: Coaching, Mentoring and Organizational Consultancy Supervision and Development (2006)