In this interview, we talk with Michelle Chambers about her article, Is Team Coaching a Fit for Me? How to Decide If Teams Are In Your Future
Leadership teams are facing a number of key challenges in their current operating environments, including: working in a VUCA environment; managing expectations of different stakeholders; running the business and transforming it; being members of multiple teams; complexity and interconnectedness of organizations; working effectively within and across systems and the need for better return on investment on leadership
development. Sound familiar?
Team coaching is about coaching the client as a system within the systems
in which they operate. At the end of the day, teams are measured on their
collective performance. Team coaching involves working with the client over
a period of time to help them become more accountable to themselves and to develop sustainable changes in behavior to support their goals.
A thought leader in team coaching and organization development, Michelle has provided global consulting, leadership and coaching for many organizations, including several of Canada's Top 50 Employers.
Michelle is passionate about supporting others to create collaborative cultures that enable people to achieve purpose in their work. A Certified Team Performance Coach, global trainer of team coaches, speaker and author, she has been at the forefront of the team coaching field since she was responsible for leadership development, enterprise wide for Telus Mobility in Canada.
Join us as we learn more from Michelle on how to decide if team coaching is right for you.
Watch the full interview by clicking here.
Find the full article here: https://bit.ly/BtPChambers
Learn more about Michelle here.
Grab your free issue of choice Magazine here - https://choice-online.com/
In this episode, I talk with Michelle about her article published in our December 2022 issue.
Hi, I'm Garry Schleifer, and this is Beyond The Page. Brought to you by choice, the magazine of Professional Coaching. We're more than just a magazine. We're a community of people who use and share coaching tools, tips, and techniques to add value to their businesses and impact their clients. It's an institution of learning built over the course of 20 years. Yes, we've just passed 20 years of publication and we're dedicated to improving the lives of coaches and of course, then their clients. In today's episode, I'm speaking with Team Coach Michelle Chambers, who is the author of an article in our latest issue about team and group coaching. The article is entitled, Is Team Coaching a Fit for Me? How to Decide If Teams Are In Your Future. Well, they're all around us, aren't they? A thought leader in team coaching and organizational development, Michelle has provided global consulting, leadership and coaching for many organizations, including several of Canada's top 50 employers. Michelle is passionate about supporting others to create collaborative cultures that enable people to achieve purpose in their work. A certified team performance coach, global trainer of team coaches, speaker and author. She's been at the forefront of the team coaching field since she was responsible for leadership development enterprise-wide for Telus Mobility in Canada. She's also a program director for the Center of Excellence in Organizational Development at Schulich. I know how to say that one, honest. Schulich Executive Education Center, York University here in Toronto. Michelle has spoken at many conferences, including recently, as we've read in the article at the Toronto ICF, but I'm sure many other chapters, ODN, Conference Board and is interviewed by Global News, Canadian HR reporters and others. She's been published in coaching magazines, including choice several times and contributed to the Team Coaching Case Book. Michelle is also an ICF Prism award winner. Oh, congratulations. Welcome back, Michelle. Thank you so much for joining me today. We're just kibitzing about the fact that this is your third time. And the funny part is, we talk about team coaching and you're alone.
Speaker 2:No, I've got a team coach beside me.
Speaker 1:Ok. We're right here. We're the team. We're the team. When you first proposed the title for this article, I was very much intrigued because it's all over the place now, right. The ICF has Team Coaching Core Competencies, I believe. There's now Team Coaching Supervision as well. Mentoring too. I don't know, is there a mentoring?
Speaker 2:I think it's blended between the two. Yeah.
Speaker 1:Okay. Oh, cool. So it's no surprise that you would write this article and I'm really glad that you did because it was a big question for me and I'm assuming for our readers and our listeners as well. So let's just dive right into it. So wonderful article and I didn't hear what qualifications one needs to be a successful team coach. I got the mindset piece question, but I didn't get the actual like, do I need to be an ACC, PCC, MCC, partridge in a pear tree, because it's around Christmas time, but I don't know.
Speaker 2:Yeah, no, it's a great question. And I think even before you look at professional associations, so whether you look at ICF or EMCC, which is more popular in Europe, I think you have to take a look at, am I a certified coach? Do I have that training and that experience behind me to feel really comfortable with that process, first of all. And then I think you need to think about, okay, what is my knowledge of and working with teams. Now, I came up through the OD world and was actually coaching teams based on training I had in High Performing Teams OD Consultancy before ICF even came about and there's lots of people like that. I think nowadays what you're seeing is a greater need for certification in team coaching, recognizing that it's like exploding market. So hence ICF and EMCC and a couple other professional associations have just launched team coaching certifications. I mean, you even have like David Clutterbuck and Peter Hawkins, et cetera through GTCI. And then you've got training from Team Coaching International, which is what I'm affiliated with, which has been around for over 15 years. You've got the 6 Teams Conditions with Ruth Wageman and Chris Lowe Academy of Executive Coaching, et cetera. So there's more and more organizations coming up to offer team coaching, but I think the key thing is to look at yourself. What do I need more skill and development in? One of the things we're hearing from a lot of team coaches is I want to practice because of the complexity. So it's not enough to know the theory. I want actually practice team coaching and get feedback on it so that I can improve my skills. And then of course there's also the need to meet the new coaching designations. Their actual requirements in terms of team coaching competencies. So if you really want to go, say for ICF for their team coaching/certified team performance coach there, you've got to actually do team coaching, submit videos, you've got to write a test. There's a lot of work involved.
Speaker 1:Right. Yeah. Well, and you know, Michelle, it's the same thing for anything in coaching. I'm not a team coach. I'm a PCC working towards my MCC. And what you said earlier, just a little bit ago was, we're always on a journey to mastery. That's my favorite phrase. And you are always reviewing the core competencies. Now you have an added layer related to team coaching and things like this. But I think one of the things you said about being a team coach is, is uh, the team coach? No, where was it? It's about if you feel, if you're good with systems, and I thought I highlighted it in the article, sorry. If you're good with systems and comp, systems relation, relational systems, work, and complex
Speaker 1:Complex change, this is the thing for you. So can you tell me a little bit more about the mindset then around that? Like what does that look like?
Speaker 2:Yeah, I'm really fortunate because when we coach a team, it's different than coaching one-on-one. The team, as a system, becomes your client and therefore, you need to coach that team with regards to its stakeholders and the other systems within which it operates and communicates with effectively. So I think that's important to have that understanding of systems thinking, to be able to encourage the team to check in with itself and ask the questions, what are we doing for our stakeholders? How are we adding value, et cetera. And there's no question, I think everyone's experience since Covid, the complexity of change. So I'm fortunate I've had the opportunity to be a senior leader in a telco. So I think having that business acumen, having supported transformational change efforts, I think brings that ability to feel more confident as a team coach to ask the questions, to get your clients as a team to really surface, you know, what are their challenges, how are they going to overcome them?
Speaker 1:So one of the things that would benefit you as a team coach is having had that experience of being part of a team in a complex environment. I found it. If you like complex, challenging situations and really want to enable systemic change in organizations, team coaching would be worth exploring.
Speaker 2:Absolutely. I love it. I mean, as you said, we're always on a journey, right? One of the things I see with a lot of new team coaches is I think they're a little bit afraid to take the risk and, you know, they often get training where there's a little bit of a script at first, you know, how to introduce the results of an assessment, how to do team norms, maybe even do team purpose, and then they feel like, ah, where do I go now? But it's, it's the same as one-on-one coaching, right? It's the accountabilities with the client. It's your preparing them by setting up a container within which they have a safe space to explore things. But because of the complexity of team dynamics, I think people are a little bit hesitant to do that.
Speaker 1:Well, a perfect example you wrote in the article is, and this I have a question for you is, the six conditions of team effectiveness with the first three seen as essentials required for a successful team, a real team, the right people, and a compelling purpose. And then you went on to say, effective teams require both a positive culture, alignment on goals, shared purpose and clear purpose. Okay. I have trouble with one person on that. Like, what if you have a team that doesn't have one of these, what, six, seven items? How does a team co-channel that? And I know we don't have enough time to go into the whole thing.
Speaker 2:Yeah, no, it's a great question. And so, Ruth Wageman, who's done a lot of work, as you know, out of Harvard and published around team coaching, she would argue that she actually spends up to 60% of her time working with the team to ensure they have the right team to begin with. So I think, even if you don't have the opportunity to form a new team, you might want examine your current team in terms of skills, diversity, abilities, et cetera. I think that's the question that you have to put back to the organization. So it's easy when a new project team is being formed, right? You get to work with them from the outset because then you can really challenge them, you know, have you set up a matrix? What are the required competencies for members? Even, what are the required skills from a team member perspective. It becomes more challenging when you step in and often we get called when they're not succeeding at achieving their goals. At that point, we may not be able to spend as much time with them because we have to try and support them to move forward, but that question is always going to come to be. So for example, in team coaching, I've had it whereby people realize they're no longer a good fit for the team because of the direction the team might be going. Or perhaps a leader hasn't been providing performance coaching as well as they could, and therefore a member needs to have a better fit for themselves, for their own opportunities and for the team to move forward. So I think you do have to have the right skillset. Absolutely. It's a question of whether or not the organization will and when support you to do that.
Speaker 1:Yeah. Wow. You know, and no kidding complex, and I'm not saying that to scare anyone from team coaching. I think team coaching is a really cool exercise in coaching. Like, not exercise, but a direction for a coach to take. And most of the time you're collaborating with at least one other co-coach and sometimes multiple depending on. It sounds like this particular part though is a huge portion of the getting started. Like an intake almost. You have the right team, a real team, the right people, the right goals, the shared purpose. I guess, as a coach, it's kind of on a checklist then you're not being consultative or training, you're asking them to come up. That's, that could be most of the work for the first like six months.
Speaker 2:Maybe not quite that long, but even the question of a real team I think is a really good one for the team to explore, Ideally the definition, per the wisdom of teams, six to eight people ideally who have a shared, agreed upon goal and hold each other mutually accountable. And that's not always the case. We have teams in the workplace where they're larger. But what I have discovered is when you go above the number of 12, you almost need to look at should we be breaking it down into sub nested teams in order to encourage the dialogue that needs to happen. Because if you're working virtually or hybrid and you've got too many to call, how do you know? You may not be getting all the voices in the room or they're not fully participating in the dialogue if they don't see the alignment. And I think the other thing too is the team purpose. So a lot of team coaches don't do team purpose and here's what I find. I find if the team i s not aligned on its core business purpose then how are they going to achieve their business goals?
Speaker 1:Yeah, that sounds like a no-brainer.
Speaker 2:Yeah. So I always ask this question. Now I often do it through the question from Team Coaching International, b ecause they give you an opportunity to customize some questions. So I always ask, what are t his team's t op three business s chools? 9 0% of the time I get probably 10 or 12 different answers. There's no alignment. Well that's really good data t o take back to the team because leaders often feel like they've spent a lot of time building that alignment, communicating that and as we know with a lot of change efforts, we need to communicate five times more than what we really do or we're not engaging people in the discussions that need to happen to solidify those goals. So I remember once doing with a team, a constellation outside and it was all about t heir transformation strategy. And it was awesome to see because you get people saying how aligned are you with this purpose, with this strategy, for example? A nd people w ere all over the map. What a great way for the leader to see, okay, we don't have as much alignment as we thought. I think that's critical u pfront because we have way too many priorities on our plate. And if we're not even aligned to the core ones, you can see why t eams t hen g oing d ifferent directions all the time.
Speaker 1:Oh, success or failure, clearly. What is it, how long does it take to get, are there milestone in the process? This part we're talking about, about like getting to know the team, was it the right team, the core values and all that? And then the actual, or maybe not, maybe you're already doing the team coaching in that process, but are there components to this? Because you're talking in the article you said it's at least six to 12 months, which I can totally see now that you're breaking it down into all these elements.
Speaker 2:Yeah, well I think the first phase is contracting or discovery like with any client. And that's really understanding more about them, their culture, their challenges, their business goals, are they gonna be committed to the process, and then perhaps using an assessment. And then I think the next stage is really where you spend at least a full day, ideally on site, with the team. That would be where you would mix up experiential team coaching activities along with giving them the data from the actual assessment that you've used. Now, normally on that day you do things like best team exercise or you would do team norms for sure. Team purpose I usually integrate in that day as well. And usually by the end of that day, the team comes up with its own plan of action. So I have them identify their strengths and their opportunities for development. And believe it or not, that's where the six months usually starts for me is after that day. Because if you want long-term sustainable change in behavior, they need time not only to develop their skills and get feedback on that but they need the time to integrate those changes with their business priorities, with the team dynamics, all of those things.
Speaker 1:Yeah. Wow. Wow. Sounds like a fun ride, honestly. Might not be for me, I'm not sure. A little late in this stage for me to be taken on something like that, I think.
Speaker 2:What are you saying? You can't teach an old dog new tricks? I don't believe that.
Speaker 1:You can, but let's just say, let me wait until I get back from holiday. I'll think about it while I'm away. Then, like in the middle of what you were saying, I'm like, how in the world do you price that? B ecause every team is different. The number of people. If you're working on contracting, you might not necessarily know how many times that they want to meet, let alone what you want, right?
Speaker 2:I can give you and your readers some guidelines to follow that would be helpful. So for example, when I meet with a team, I share with them the typical process. And I say, if you really want sustainable results, you're looking at a six month coaching program. Same way you might market or influence a client to buy one-on-one. And honestly, kudos to Phil. Until I took his program, I never thought of doing team coaching that way. It was like this big aha moment, like, oh, hello, why am I not doing that? So I price that based on knowing how many hours we're going to be working together, assessments, the team number, all of that type of thing. It's like what most larger consulting houses might do. It's more like a project costing, you don't break it down as much line by line. Then what I have is a price for an additional three months, and then I have prices for one-on-one coaching and that type of thing and 90% of the time, because if you get the buy-in to the six months, which might be a significant investment and might be a challenge to begin with but if you get that buy-in, often they will automatically reinvest for another three months. Here's the reason. They often do a pre and post assessment. And so they've now seen the changes in behavior, the higher performing team. They now want to kind of finish off or address a few more key factors before we dissolve our relationship and so they often go for nine months and then you build in some vacation time. It typically ends up being a 12-month engagement. And that's the way to price it. You can't think of it as on an hourly basis. You won't make your money and I don't think you'll have, more importantly, the client's buy-in to long-term sustainable change. So I've had some very, very Fortune 500 companies say, well, we just want to do three months coaching, and then I'll share with them that, well that's not necessarily team coaching. That would be more team facilitation. And here's the pros and cons.
Speaker 1:Oh, like your chart.
Speaker 1:Like the chart you put in the article was excellent.
Speaker 2:On the various team modalities for development and here's what that looks like, but you won't have the same long-term sustainable changes because people aren't having an opportunity to practice it through time with the support of a coach. Then it becomes more like the challenges of training, right? How do we transfer it back into the workplace? Which is what we want.
Speaker 1:Exactly. I still remember the article I read back 22 years ago when I started in coaching that said, coaching will take training 80% further than. But, you're right, it takes time. No offense to the training in ODN people, but they have a set thing. They're consultative, they're telling, they're training and then it's like, okay, if you want to keep it from gathering dust on the shelf you need to add a coaching component. I think a lot of organizations have now realized that. And, you know, team coaching in itself. And I want to thank you too because you answered another question for me about how do you build in the return on investment, like the measurement and you said an assessment at the beginning and at the end. I can't agree more. I just think that's hugely important.
Speaker 2:Well, and you get both a qualitative and quantitative. For example, you'll have qualitative comments from the participants, from their stakeholders, then you get a quantitative measurement in terms of the actual increase in their team performance indicators or a percentage increase in achievement of goals. If you're able to try it, it is a business KPI. And I think that's what organizations are looking for. Coaching is expensive and hence, there's a greater value in team coaching now than one-on-one coaching. Because even if you train or coach one individual, they may develop the skills but they may not be able to implement that well within their immediate team. So why not coach the whole team together so that they're working together. Because more and more people are working in teams, so it also makes sense and so, it's a better value.
Speaker 1:Yeah. Well, thank you so much. Wow. Fountain of wisdom. Got the perfect person to write that article and the interview.
:Oh, thank you. Thank you. A couple more questions. So look in your crystal ball. I mean, I think I know what's the future? Oh, she's got one. What's the future of team coaching? What coming up?
Speaker 2:Yeah, and I think there's a number of leading practitioners who see this, and I'll be honest, I think team coaching has actually evolved much faster and further in Europe than it has in North America. But I see the trend coming. I don't think a lot of senior leaders and organizations necessarily understand what team coaching is, but when you talk to them about it, they get it. The trend is this. We're looking for a greater return on investment. The leadership development money that we're spending in organizations isn't generating the returns. We're starting to see more people working in teams. Plus if we want to create more coaching cultures in organizations, it makes sense to create common language and practices across the organization. And as you know, there's also been a shift for coaching bots. So in particular, a lot of large organizations have already developed their own customized internal coaching software platforms that give people and feed them advice based on their questions or give them ways to measure achievement of their goals. So that almost reduces the need to some degree of coaching individual on a one-on-one.
Speaker 1:Yeah. You did mention that in there too. Good reason to go to do team coaching is that there's a lot of supportive technology now for not replacement, but, you know, is it? We're going to be discussing that in an issue next year.
Speaker 2:Well, you know what? You might be interested to know this. In team coaching, they're bringing it to virtual reality down in Australia.
Speaker 1:Oh my gosh.
Speaker 2:That would be cool. I don't know much about it, but yeah, that would I think be really cool to explore.
Speaker 1:Did you see the one with David Clutterbuck, Sam Isaacson and Yvonne Rommer at a recent summit?
Speaker 2:You know what, I didn't actually get to see it, but it is David Clutterbuck that I had seen in a previous session. He was talking about the virtual reality.
Speaker 1:Hey, I would love to do that because apparently the mind doesn't know the difference between a real setting and a virtual reality setting.
Speaker 2:Oh wow. That would be a scary thing as well.
Speaker 1:But wouldn't it be great if you could take your team somewhere away? So even in a hybrid environment take the team to some remote location. But talk about cutting costs.
Speaker 2:Oh, no kidding. But I'm also thinking too, with all the research about coaching in nature, for example. You know, being able to do that and enable people to experience that grounding that you get with nature as well as in your team environment. It's an evolving world. There's no question. Team coaching supervision is now becoming a need as well. So that individuals who are team coaching can get some mentorships, some sponsorship, get someone to support them. And it's really about how do you support team coaches to support their clients. So it's an evolving industry and it's growing, it's exciting, it's challenging and that's all of the things I love about it. And most importantly, I think you really get to make a really key impact with the team and perhaps even more systemically if you get to work with more than one team in an organization.
Speaker 1:I can just imagine like even just coaching one team because we know the ripple effect of one-on-one. But we're talking, as Jennifer Britton likes to say, one to many. I think she wrote the book actually. We're interviewing her soon too, again. But you're a three time winner. You're the first person I've interviewed three times. So keep writing and keep getting ready to be podcasted. Just imagine that ripple, you know, of one to many, too many. So you multiply, it's like that old commercial and they told two people and they told two people and they told two people.
Speaker 2:I know the Double Mint Gum.
Speaker 1:Yeah. Right. That was great. Yeah.
:And I think the thought leaders feel that team coaching is where we're going be able to create more systemic change. Particularly if you take a look at the concept of teams even changing. So more organizations are becoming flattered and teams will be starting up and dissolving more quickly. I think you'll even see teams rotating, like specialty teams rotating amongst other teams.
Speaker 1:Well remember there's that term the gig economy, right? So people are jumping from project to project within an organization or outside of organizations. So it's funny because I was talking to somebody about resumes and they're like, wow, nowadays it's more important to be jumping around to show you're gaining skills and experience than it is to have worked for a company for 30 years.
Speaker 2:Yeah, absolutely.
Speaker 1:Because then it almost speaks to stagnation versus flexibility, agility, cognitive ability, right?
Speaker 2:Well imagine though, in a gig economy, if you had a team and that a team is solidified together and works from one organization to organization.
Speaker 1:Oh my gosh.
Speaker 2:They've worked on team coaching to address their issues and to improve their performance and the value they add to clients as a result of that could be really exponential.
Speaker 1:Wow. Wow. Wow, wow. Yeah. We obviously could go on and on and on. Ripple, ripple, ripple. What would you like our audience to do as a result of the article and this conversation?
Speaker 2:Yeah, I would encourage anyone who's interested in exploring team coaching, go out there, talk to some existing team coaches. Find out what it is that they enjoy about it, what the challenges are that they face and truly explore it. Then take a look at some of the team coaching opportunities that are out there and ask them what was your experience like? And if you do go for the training, don't be afraid to take a little bit of a risk. We don't know everything. That's why we're not subject matter experts. In my language, we're process consultants or coaches who hold the space. Really just create opportunities for teams to have dialogue and bottom line trust the group. I think in the end, so long as we make and create the space, even if we don't get the right question reword it. See it land. It happens all the time. People worry about this stuff. It's really about holding the space for the client and enabling them to really take a deeper look at some of their root causes and what they need to do to become higher performing.
Speaker 1:Yeah. No, that's well said. Thank you. Seriously, I will take a look at it in the new year, but right now I have another course to finish up. I have a bit more homework to close that off, so I'll do that first.
Speaker 2:That's awesome. That's great. You know what, we're always learning.
Speaker 1:Exactly. We coaches love our learning. Well Michelle, thank you so much for joining us for this Beyond the Page episode. What's the best way for people to reach you?
Speaker 2:Well, they can either call cell(905) 626-6494 or they can email me, Michelle@Chambersandassociates.ca or you can also contact me through LinkedIn as well. And soon, once I get off my butt, I will have my Teams Matter website that I started. I've b een doing t he w ork a nd I h aven't g otten back to the business s ide o f t hings.
Speaker 1:Oh my goodness. Yes, I know. Well, you know what, if you're working, you don't need to be marketing and if you keep working. Word of mouth is marketing.
Speaker 2:Yes, absolutely. Thank you for the opportunity, Garry. It's always a privilege to be part of the podcast. I really appreciate your audience and being able to share different perspectives and encourage them to explore their growth and the work that you do at choice because it really is a community of learning that you've created. You reach all different types of modalities of coaching. So I also appreciate that you have this a ddition around team and group coaching,
Speaker 1:I've already planned another one in the next five years, but hey, who knows when that might be. Might have to bring it up sooner, but it's a worthy topic. We've done a number of issues on it and it's just reading them and seeing the changes and how far team coaching has come. We talked about the future, but boy, it's really, really taken off, so thank you very much and it's an honor to have you here again and to share your wisdom on yet another topic. You're just a fountain of wisdom. Thank you very much. I just wanna say goodbye. That's it for this episode of Beyond the Page. For more episodes, subscribe to your favorite podcast app like Apple, Spotify, and we use our on our own website, choice-online.com. And while you're there, don't forget to sign up for your free digital issue of Choice Magazine by clicking the signup n ow button. I'm G ary S chleifer. Enjoy your journey to mastery.