Team effectiveness and team coaching literature review

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Team effectiveness and team coaching literature review
Publication Date: 
June, 2013
Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice
Quick Summary

This paper provides a summary of team coaching literature and includes team effectiveness studies that can inform team coaching practice. Four team coaching models four empirical studies and eight case studies are discussed. Key team effectiveness topics reviewed include communication decision-making and conflict. Coaching the leader on team design and structure was identified as a key condition of effective team coaching along with the benefits of individual coaching peer coaching and team off-sites. The case studies highlight that team coaching resulted in interpersonal and communication benefits while the empirical studies indicated improved team performance. The authors recommend that future researchers should conduct more management and leadership team coaching studies in real work settings.

Deep Dive

Peters and Carr first summarize key insights from the team effectiveness literature:

  1. Ruth Wageman and collaborators identified the three essential conditions for leading an effective team (1) a real team with clear membership and boundaries, (2) a compelling direction or purpose to guide the team’s work, and (3) the right people with the knowledge, skill and experience to perform the team’s requisite work. 
  2. Three enabling conditions were (1) a solid team structure of less than 10 members who have a clear set of norms and agreements to guide how they get their work done, (2) a supportive organizational context that provides the information, time and resources to do their work, and (3) competent team coaching to help the team grow individually and as a team, either provided internally from a team member or provided by an external coach or consultant.
  3. The review covers the following team effectiveness factors in more detail: communication (incorporating cohesion, interdependency and feedback), collective intelligence, decision-making and information sharing, team learning, team and interpersonal conflict, shared leadership, and positive organizational behaviour.

The authors concluded that research studies are exploratory, at an early stage. Four academic team coaching studies indicate that team coaching has a positive impact on a team’s performance (outputs), and/or processes. Improved outputs included better written products, team effectiveness, innovation, and safety. Additionally, processes that improved were effort, skills, knowledge and learning. 

Guidelines on team coaching best practices include:

  1. Focus more on front-end team design and launch than trying to refocus a team once it is underway. 
  2. Time interventions to coincide with the beginning (motivational coaching), middle (consultative coaching), and end (educational coaching) of a team cycle.
  3. Hold a team launch but be careful not to overdesign the group or provide excessively detailed guidance during the initial team launch session so the group can have latitude to figure out the way forward. 
  4. Suggest that teams invite team members to take an informal coaching role to initiate, motivate, and encourage their colleagues to bring forward their full contribution. Peer coaching has one of the strongest correlations to team effectiveness compared to any other team intervention.
  5. Team coaching, while focused on the team, can also include some specific, individual coaching of the team’s leader. 

The authors conclude with insights:

  1. Group coaches need a strong understanding of group dynamics or group-based dialogue processes, in addition to the individual interpersonal and rapport-building skills necessary for dyadic coaching. 
  2. It may be that a judicious combination of individual and group coaching is optimal, and this has been recommended by many of the proponents of group coaching as well as some members of the broader organizational development community. 
  3. Through developing systems thinking in their clients, executive coaches and consultants may better foster real change at the individual, group and organisational level. 


Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 2013 Vol. 6, No. 2, 116-136

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