I talked about some of the teamcoach fundamentals in a previous blog. Being a teamcoach requires a specific mindset and set of skills. We will talk about those here.
Before you start coaching
You need to be aware of the following things:
Your own mindset
- 1You need to connect with the team on different levels, without getting sucked in their interaction patterns. You can look at language, behaviour, energy level and mood. It is important that you strike a balance between you as an impartial observer and you as a trusted coach, between distance and connection. This way you can build a relationship with the team and your coaching will be more effective.
- 2A good coach seems slow, maybe even lazy. When you are looking for interaction patterns in the team it is best to keep observing instead of reacting to everything you see. Once you respond the interaction pattern is stopped and you may jump to the wrong conclusion. Once you have a good idea about the patterns, you may start to intervene.
- 3Be open, honest and curious. Ask open questions and do not judge. The interaction pattern may not work well in the setting you are watching, but it may work well in a different setting.
- 4Give yourself room to learn from the team. Do not be afraid to be dumb about the social rules in a team. Everybody knows that feeling of their first day at a new job where they still have to figure everything out. Keep everything on the table and in the open. There are no forbidden topics or questions.
- 5Give the team room to learn and change. In teams certain roles become set. You will hear quotes like: "That is just John being John" or "It is always the same people getting stuck with the work". This pattern may have been useful in the past, but changing it after such a long time may be hard. By sharing your observations and asking questions from the people in the set role change will start to happen. The team needs to feel safe in order to do so. You as a coach need to help them create that safe environment.
- 6Get the team together regularly. Interaction patterns are an expression of ways of thinking (see also the iceberg). Changing them takes time and practice. The best way to change is by working in short iterations and come together regularly. This way people have less of a chance to fall back into old patterns. You can use a daily stand up, sprint meetings and team meetings for this.
- 7Dare to let go of set structures. Interaction patterns are often influenced by the environment people are in. Once change is happening it may be a good idea to look at that physical and social environment and change it to better support the new interaction patterns.
- 8You need to be able to evaluate your own conduct as a coach and be willing to ask for feedback. Being a team coach is a demanding job and requires trust to go both ways (reciprocity). Because of this trust building people will ask you to help them in ways that do not belong in team coaching. They will try to get your opinion on the substance of the matter or maybe a decision. They will ask you questions about substance but also other teams to validate their opinion. They may try to pull you into their conflicts. You will never get everything right, but evaluating will ensure you will learn from past mistakes and become a better coach. You will also get a clearer idea of the type of coach you want to be.
Goals as a teamcoach
You do all this to get a team in a next phase of their development. You want to have them experience new ways of interaction that bring more joy and more effectiveness. If done well people will feel empowered to change their interaction patterns. The team can only grow from this.