A Model for Team Coaching on Projects

This website is primarily designed for people working on projects. Whilst there are a range of different team coaching models around which one can learn to coach a team, projects offer their own particular challenges in setting and maintaining the collaborative behaviours needed to solve complex problems.

The toolkit is structured to work around a model for coaching project teams as set out in the diagram above. The model is derived from research by a number of different experts in team performance, as well as my own primary research.

The model is intended to provide a framework within which the different tools can be used. To a certain extent the model is sequential in that some activities need to take place to set the right behavioural norms. Other consolidating activities then follow. In the real world however, complex projects are not so tidy in their structure or program. Projects start and then stall for a while. People join and leave at unplanned intervals and the external environment is constantly shifting. The model should therefore be regarded as a guide, rather than a set of rules.

The basic team coaching model works around five key stages.

Assess the Systemic Environment

Analysing the various factors which affect the project environment and engaging with the team and the sponsors to ensure that the project is adequately resourced. The point is to check that all critical assumptions are valid, rather that over optimistic.

Set-up

The five steps that have been found to be critical to establishing positive behavioural norms. This stage is not optional.

Communication. 

The processes, routines and activities that maintain clear communication, encourage dialogue and ensure clarity of understanding.

Building Resilience.

The mechanics and protocols that manage relationship conflict, monitor stress and improve collective resilience.

Improvement and Learning

Ensuring that the learning gained form the project feeds back into the the wider team through continual reflection.

 

If you want to shape team behaviours, you need to have the early stages of the model in place as soon as the team starts to form. So many projects fail because leaders underestimate the time and energy needed to build strong trusting relationships. So hold back the urge to press on with resource planning and technical implementation and take some time to think about how the team will actually function.

 

Click here for a brief explanation of project team coaching