Team Coaching Fundamentals / “It’s a worthwhile investment in YOUR capability”

21st October by Lee Robertson

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We spoke to Andy Duncan, head of Team Effectiveness at NatWest Group about his personal experience of the Team Coaching Fundamentals Certificate programme which the AoEC launched back in May 2021.

What was the driving factor behind your decision to undertake training in team coaching?

I’ve been leading the Team Effectiveness coaching programme at NatWest Group since 2016 and am hugely passionate about continued professional development and building capability in myself and also in the great team of coaches we have here. I am always looking for opportunities to continue to professionalise the team coaches and build their confidence and knowledge. Having worked with the AoEC before, with the Systemic Team Coaching® Certificate, I knew that Team Coaching Fundamentals would be an excellent programme.

Having completed the Team Coaching Fundamentals certificate programme, what advice would you share with prospective participants so they can maximise the learning experience for themselves?

There are a few things I would say here:

  • Make the time!  It’s three days out of your busy work lives, however, it’s a worthwhile investment in YOUR capability and the investment in time will deliver you huge benefit.
  • Immerse yourself! – it’s tempting to try and keep an eye on the “day job” during the three days, however, you’ll get the most from the programme if you fully focus and switch off the distractions.
  • Enjoy the stretch! Yes, there are simulation role plays that I know some people may find a little daunting, however, you will not find a more supportive, safer learning environment to practice in, and what better place to try new skills and build your own team coaching toolkit.

What are the outcomes of doing the Team Coaching Fundamentals certificate for you? And how are you using the learning from the programme in your role as Team Effectiveness lead at NatWest?

I personally noticed growth in my team coaching capability through taking part in the programme and my “kitbag” of tools and techniques has certainly grown. The programme also allowed to me to make sense of and refine some things I already knew and gave me new insight into using those capabilities more effectively. I’ve now made the Team Coaching Fundamentals certificate part of our core learning package, within the capability development journey for all of our new team coaches.

As we continue to build our team coaching community, our first batch of eight new team coaches have recently been through the programme and the feedback has been excellent. Some of these coaches are already now working with their first teams and it’s clear that they’ve been able to implement their new capabilities immediately.

What advice would you give fellow people management professionals who are thinking about adding team coaching or team development skills to their portfolio?

Team coaching is one of the newer coaching disciplines and this brings with it the energy and excitement of working in an emerging field. From a personal perspective, it’s a tremendously rewarding part of my coaching practice and it’s a privilege to work with and support executive teams in my organisation. In terms of specific advice for potential new team coaches I would suggest finding more out about team coaching and “try it on for size” if you can; to see if it’s right for you:

  1. Go and see a team coach in action if you know one, see what happens behind the scenes and “in the room”.
  2. Find a good team coaching book.  I found Coaching the Team at Work by David Clutterbuck very helpful.
  3. Browse YouTube and watch some demonstrations of team coaching.

Where and how has team coaching made a difference to the employee experience in your organisation?

This is two-fold. Firstly, our coaches find that having team coaching as part of their coaching practice increases their engagement, through having increased variety in their work; and they can use the team coaching capabilities they build across all of the work that they do, including 1:1 coaching.

Secondly, feedback tells us that the teams that we support across the whole bank, feel supported to be the best teams that they can be, through increased collective self-awareness and performance.

What are some of the issues and opportunities you are using team coaching for?

  1. Building shared clarity around purpose, strategy, goals, objectives and roles and responsibilities.
  2. Strengthening relationships through building trust between team members and between team members and key stakeholders.
  3. Identifying and systematically removing barriers to team success.
  4. Building a more connected network of teams that operate less in silos and more in a healthy, inter-dependent system.

What kind of impact is the team coaching having within the organisation and how do you measure the effectiveness of the coaching interventions you run?

The feedback that we receive from our client teams and sponsors consistently tells us that team coaching is hugely valued in unlocking the potential of our teams. We measure the effectiveness of our team coaching in several ways to build a complete picture of the positive impact and allow us to constantly evolve the programme:

  • We always start a coaching programme by building a deep diagnostic picture of the team, against our definition of a high-functioning team. We always re-run these diagnostics at the end of the programme to show the evolution of the team and the measurable and observable growth that has occurred.
  • We evaluate through anecdotal feedback and impact statements from the team members, sponsors, and key stakeholders. This allows to include the less tangible, but still really important observable benefits from team coaching programmes.
  • Finally, we are currently developing a Net Promotor Score (NPS) feedback loop to gather data around how our client teams would feel about recommending our service to colleagues.

How are you using your team coaching skills in an environment where remote working has become the new normal?

When the pandemic hit, we needed to adapt and pivot our team coaching programme to a virtual model almost overnight. Where we used to run two-day offsite immersive events, we adapted to a modular, bite-sized approach with regular (usually monthly) two-hour coached sessions over Zoom.

Interestingly we’ve found that we’ve been able to mitigate most of the downsides of moving to a virtual world and that there have been some operation and engagement benefits in delivering team coaching through this medium. Our biggest benefit has been that there is greater democracy of contribution – we’ve found that coaching teams through Zoom has given the quieter, more introverted members of team more of an equal voice in discussions and levelled out the dominant voices. 

What is your assessment of the key trends and challenges facing organisations and teams within organisations right now and what should they be doing to address them?

There are some really clear trends that exist currently, a couple of the key ones that our internal team coaching community are facing into are:

  • Ways of working – we’re supporting teams that are adapting to working remotely or hybrid ways of working and wrestling with what that means in terms of building trust, relationships, teamwork, and wellbeing.
  • External market forces such as skills shortages, big data, political and regulatory changes, disruptive technology, and digitisation.

Team coaching is a wonderful tool that can support teams at any level, in any organisation to help them understand their context, challenges and opportunities and then make sense of their priorities and what they need to do next.

Our sincerest thanks to Andy for sharing his experience of team coach training with the AoEC.