It’s useful too to sit this definition next to other activities associated with working with teams & groups, and see where the overlaps & differences are:
1. Group Coaching
This is a group activity, similar to action learning sets, where an individual has coaching in a group context. It can be done in a variety of formats, one of which resembles action learning sets, where each individual takes a turn to be coached by the rest of the group.
2. Team Bonding
This involves activities, usually with a social or fun element, to help team members get to know one another and build good working relationships. It could also involve outward bound activities, with team challenges. Research has shown very little evidence of these type of activities having any significant impact on team performance.
3. Team Building
This is work done with a new team. In my experience people have different understandings of what it means. For some it is about the team bonding activities mentioned above, which may have limited benefit. For others it involves a more effective activity helping a new team to clarify its purpose and goals and to build good working relationships.
4. Group or Team Facilitation
This is where a facilitator, often an external one, manages the group process for a group/team, while the team focuses on the task. (eg a project review, a team debrief after an ‘incident’, a staff conference, a strategy event with multiple stakeholders, a review of partnership working with a key stakeholder, etc. ) If working with a team, the facilitator will usually confine their work to the group process during the session, and keep away from voicing thoughts, feelings or ideas on the team’s task or performance.
5. Team Development
This is where team members engage in a process to increase their ability to work well together on the team’s ‘task’. Particularly with new teams it may involve clarifying the team purpose; defining expectations of stakeholders; setting required standards around the team’s task/service; clarifying individual roles; developing the team processes required for the team to deliver on its task. It may involve on-going work to build strong relationships in the team, and enhance the team’s general effectiveness. This could be done with or without external assistance.
So Team Coaching will tend to combine elements of team facilitation and team development. With new teams it may also include some of the more effective elements of team-building. It will involve focusing both on the team’s task and its process. It may also focus on the individual contributions and performance of each team member. It will help a team to do useful individual and collective learning.