There is a subtle but significant difference between Team Coaching and Group Coaching. Both approaches can be important change catalysts in organisations, however, uncovering the right approach for the right people and the right task is vital.
Professor Peter Hawkins in his book ‘Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership’ defines a team as “employees who work closely together to achieve clear objectives, and who meet regularly to review performance and how their performance as a team can be improved”. (Professor Peter Hawkins. 2017)
In his book ‘The Complete Handbook of Coaching’, David Clutterbuck defines team coaching as “a learning intervention designed to increase collective capability and performance of a group or team, through application of the coaching principles of assisted reflection, analysis and motivation for change.” (David Clutterbuck. 2009)
According to John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, a team is “a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they are mutually accountable”. (John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith.1993)
It is clear from these definitions of team coaching that a team comprises individuals who have a common goal or task and who report directly to their team leader. Team Coaches focus on the team to accelerate their performance by working more efficiently together towards their common goal. The team’s performance is evaluated as a collective – making each of the team members interdependent on each other.
Let’s look at an example of Team Coaching:
Alice works for a global tech company and has been tasked to create a team to complete the design and delivery of a customer engagement solution within the next six months. Alice approached The Teamery Co to support the team through this process and accelerate their effectiveness. This focused first on building the team’s relationships and deepening their connection. Teamery knows the value of investing in the human connections across the team and building time in catalysing relationships. Teamery worked on the team to deepen their understanding of their individual and team strengths and pressure points, resulting in the team experiencing a sense of connection and mutual trust. Linked with this the team spent time collectively defining their purpose and created a team charter which included team values, beliefs and identity, purpose, role clarity and ways of working needed to get the project across the line and to develop cohesion and clarity on their collective task ahead.
Group Coaching brings a group of employees together to learn from their collective wisdom and shared experiences. The Group Coach partners with the various members in the group to build the optimal process for this learning to occur. Members of the group may or may not work together daily and each of them has a different goal that they are aiming to achieve based on their function or role. Let’s look at an example of Group Coaching:
The global tech company whom Alice works for approached The Teamery Co to partner with a group of newly appointed people leaders in the organisation to create a best practice learning group. The objective when coaching this group was to support and accelerate their learning as a group, through exploring challenges, gaining new perspectives, and celebrating their individual achievements together. Although the group had a common outcome, each group member was individually accountable to take the learnings from this group back to their teams.
In conclusion then, team coaching is when a team has a unifying objective and high levels of interdependency, whereas group coaching is working with a collection of people who have a common interest and are individually accountable.
Professor Peter Hawkins. Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership. 2017.
David Clutterbuck. The Complete Handbook of Coaching. 2009.
John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith. The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance Organisation, Harvard Business School, Boston. 1993.