DIGITAL SELF COACHING

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What is (agile) team coaching?

 

Team coaching is a trending topic. But what is it anyway? Business coaching plus agile coaching? Here, an attempt at a definition:

 

"Team coaching helps the team improving performance and processes through reflection and dialogue, to achieve goals and at the same time create a sustainable environment that cultivates long-term excellence and success. In doing so, the team coach provides stimuli with the aim of strengthening the team's ability to help itself."

 

Newly formed teams and teams working together virtually can start of by using coaching questions and reflection exercises to agree on the basics of cooperation, work productively faster and prevent problems from arising in the first place. 

The team coaching process can include individual priorities 

  • the orientation towards a common goal or vision;  

  • strengthening mutual responsibility and self-organisation;

  • project-related tasks such as clarifying assignments, roles and interfaces;

  • business coaching-related tasks such as the development of a good decision-making, feedback and conflict culture or the perception and processing of conducive and obstructive patterns of action of individual team members in the team context.

How does team coaching differ from moderation, training and consulting?

 

First of all: Team coaching only works with teams, not with groups. What is the difference? Teams are groups that solve tasks together and have developed common models of cooperation for this purpose. A group has different tasks and related self-interests. A group can - if reasonable and desired - be developed in the direction of a team. If there is a desire for more closeness and better communication, team building can be a suitable measure or, as a first step, the consideration of whether a common goal and common models are necessary and wanted. 

Team building is a good basis for team coaching, which is often requested situationally for concrete problems in the team dynamics, for example a recurring conflict. 

 

Team coaching is about improving team quality and cooperation. The focus is on reflection and it is basically non-intentional on the part of the team coach.

Facilitation is the creation of structures in which group and team issues, processes or conflicts can be clarified. The facilitation of team processes is an integral part of team coaching. The focus is on clarifying factual tasks or process issues. The facilitator organises the process and helps the group or team to achieve results and reach goals in a structured, efficient and autonomous way by asking specific questions and involving all participants.

Training conveys concrete information using didactic methods such as role-playing or exercises. Team training is about a trainer imparting and practising technical or methodological knowledge that is intended to bring about a change in team cooperation. The knowledge comes from outside, while in coaching the coach works with the conviction that the team itself knows the best solution and works it out itself with the help of impulses from the coach.

 

Counselling is similar: it is about identifying possibilities and ways forward in challenging situations. The counsellor, as an expert, brings the technical and experiential knowledge for the solution, which the team then implements. 

All these formats are part of team development.

What types of team coaching do exist?

 

Team coaching can be used either selectively for specific problems or as a further development measure for the team, but it is always about providing help for self-help. 

  • Solution-oriented for concrete problems, e.g. team conflicts or decisions not taken.

  • Motivational as an impetus for reflection and self-help to strengthen strengths and release performance potential.

  • Mixed with counselling or training to deal with specific team situations, e.g. onboarding new team members or improving decision-making processes.

The following modules are currently available for individual coaching and will gradually be further extended: 

 
 
 

Agile Coaching Modules

Team Basic
Team Basic

Use this Basic module for structured data collection to have more reflected and meaningful retrospectives.

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Team Reflection
Team Reflection

Choose avatars for your team members and prepare your individual team con-stellation. Why? Gain more clarity about people, cooperation and relationships in your team. You can either openly show and discuss your constellation in the retrospective or provide action items to improve structures and processes.

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Team Feedback
Team Feedback

What happened, how does it make you feel, what do you wish for? Use non-violent communication to make your point and deliver critical feedback to your team, in a way they can accept more easily - either within the retro-spective or in 1:1 conversations before.

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Team Status
Team Status

How are you doing as a team? Use the five dysfunctions of a team to collect ideas and define action items to discuss in the next retrospective on how to improve trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and result orientation in your team.

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With evoach for teams you can support your teams to grow continuously. The focus is on the areas: Team development, strengths, competencies and values. Our agile coaching modules are the perfect tool to prepare the next team retrospective more efficiently. The scrum master or team leader sends a coaching invitation to all team members and asks them to reflect on their topics individually beforehand.

What happens during team coaching?

 

In a non-binding meeting of coach, team and manager, the mutual chemistry is first checked and if a basic cooperation is possible, the following points are regulated in an at least verbal contract:

  • Confidentiality

  • Types and condition of cooperation

  • Objectives.

This clarification of the assignment takes place with both, the client and the team. The data collection can be done digitally or through structured interviews in advance. On the one hand, this is about building trust, but also about comparing expectations and mirroring different perceptions by the team coach. 

Then it's either an "as-is" analysis of the current team situation, or in solution-focused team coaching directly into possible solutions.

Topics can be, for example:

  • What makes the project successful for clients, the team and each individual team member?

  • Who are the important stakeholders and supporters? What do they need? How can they help?

  • What are the team's goals? What are the individual goals of the team members? How do the two fit together?

  • What (good and bad) experiences of the team members will help in the new project?

  • Who has what role and responsibility in the team? Are all important functions and tasks well distributed?

  • Is everyone deployed according to their strengths, or is there a need for change?

  • How do we deal with conflicts in the team? How do we avoid escalating them?

  • What implicit and explicit rules does the team have?

  • What does the team decide, who exactly decides and how?

  • How and on which channels do we communicate? How do we give feedback?

  • How do I "function" as a team member: am I introverted or extroverted, nightingale or owl, what is my red panic button, what immediately destroys my trust, ...?

  • Which tasks and which behaviour (de-) motivate me at work?

  • Meeting "housekeeping": What makes a good/bad meeting? Who must/may participate, how often makes sense, with what rules?

Only then does the actual coaching process start, in which the team's topics are worked on with different questions and methods. The format can also be chosen flexibly: In a large two-day teamwork, regularly in team retrospectives or as a weekly 30-minute "team development quickie" at the start or end of the week. There are no fixed rules that work well for all teams, but clear team-internal agreements are very helpful. 

The joint processing has two effects: The exchange creates clarity and the team members open up to each other and build trust. 

At the end of each session, agreements and changes are recorded and the extent to which the set goals have been achieved is evaluated.

 
 

How is the need for team coaching changing in companies?

Various developments are increasing the need for team coaching in companies:

Due to ever-increasing pressure to change through digitalisation, the introduction of agile working and/or frequent restructuring, the pressure on teams to change is also growing. They need to regroup more quickly and become productive.

 

Flat hierarchies and "new work" initiatives - in whatever form - require employees and teams to have skills such as 

  • Self-organisation;

  • Solving conflicts independently;

  • Giving feedback;

  • Clarify tasks and roles with each other;

  • Establish and adhere to communication rules.

Many have not learned them in a structured way - neither in training and further education nor in professional practice, but everyone can learn these skills from scratch. The simplest and most effective way: through immediately available coaching on the respective professional application. 

An additional driver for team coaching is the flexibilisation of the working world: home office, hybrid working, distributed teams and part-time/freelance models require clear agreements on cooperation.

What are the secrets of successful teams?

Teams are always as successful as their individual members. They need personalities who take responsibility for themselves and the common cause. Teams that thrive have enough of these personalities. Taking responsibility also means actively taking care of the following issues:

  • Common rules for cooperation - general and remote.

  • A culture of trust, feedback and error in which critical issues are addressed openly and managers set a good example - ideally with non-violent communication.

  • A good meeting culture (agenda, rules, timeboxing, enough time for preparation and follow-up, external moderation for difficult topics).

  • Clearly defined tasks, roles and responsibilities - clear and transparent for all. 

  • Rather too much than too little regular communication (e.g. check-ins, dailies, weeklys, retrospectives).

  • Time for personal contact and team rituals.

  • (Team) reflection as an integral part of everyday work.

What are the advantages of online or hybrid team coaching?

  • Online team coaching is available immediately and for everyone.  

  • Each employee can carry out the data collection individually for him- or herself and arrive at a completely different level of reflection with full focus and without stress.

  • More critical points are raised due to the possibility of contributing one's points anonymously.

  • Even introverted and quiet employees are heard.

  • In critical situations, a quick initial "blowing off steam" is possible.

  • Team coaching becomes more widely available in the organisation and can be used by all teams - not only in a crisis.

Conclusion

Team coaching benefits not only the company and the goals that are being pursued, but also individual employees. Through the tools and various methods, the roles in the team and the areas of responsibility can be more clearly structured and consolidated. Team coaching is particularly useful in the development of more flexible ways of working and underlines the company's goal management. New work and remote are important trends that influence teams and should therefore be taken into account.

 
 
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"With evoach we were able to prepare our Agile Retro in the best possible way and gained a very good insight into the current development status of our team. Above all, the guided questions in the preparation phase led to much more high-quality input for the retrospective within the team."

Robert Bauer
Partner & Agile Product Development
intension GmbH

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