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July 09, 2024

Team Coaching – The Heffelfinger Philosophy

Categories:  Teaming | Coaching
Team Coaching - THe Heffelfinger Philosophy

According to a study by Stanford University, teams that work well together are 50% more productive.

Teaming is the dynamic process that brings together individuals with diverse skills and perspectives to tackle tasks and projects collaboratively. This approach leverages the group's collective expertise and creativity, leading to more innovative solutions and effective problem-solving. Teaming also fosters a culture of continuous learning, adaptability, and mutual support, which enhances productivity and drives better outcomes for the organization.

What Is a Team?

A team is a group of individuals who collaborate to achieve common, challenging, and meaningful goals. According to Douglas K. Smith and Jon Katzenbach, The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization, a team is “a small number of people with complementary skills, who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”

Ideally consisting of 5-8 members, a team can effectively make strategic decisions together. When the group exceeds eight members, it often shifts to sharing information updates and deferring final decisions to the team leader.

Creating Successful Teams Through Team Coaching

For a team to operate successfully, its members must be mutually accountable, recognizing that effectively working together requires continuous effort and dedication, much like maintaining a healthy marriage.

When a team isn’t operating efficiently, team coaching can be enormously effective at helping the entire team to enhance performance, cohesion, and alignment with organizational goals.

Team coaching is a collaborative process that involves a team coach facilitating effective communication, resolving conflicts, and fostering a culture of mutual accountability and trust to create a high-performing and cohesive unit. According to the Team Coaching Studio’s definition, team coaching is "Partnering with a team to unleash its collective power, purpose, and potential to connect and collaborate" - “and get great results!” adds Lori.

What is a Team Coach?

A team coach is a professional who holds the space for team development, partnering with team members to enhance their performance. They listen actively, ask insightful questions, and create awareness about team dynamics and goals. By providing direct feedback and clear communication, a team coach helps identify areas for improvement and supports the team in checking progress toward their objectives.

Team Coaching vs 1:1 Coaching

Team coaching differs from 1:1 coaching. While they share similarities, such as the client owning the process and the coach serving as a supportive resource, individual coaching is a personalized development process where a coach works one-on-one with an individual to enhance their professional performance and personal growth whereas team coaching focuses on enhancing the dynamics, performance, and cohesion of a team that collaborates regularly toward common goals.

Team Coaching Vs. Group Coaching

Team coaching focuses on improving the dynamics, performance, and cohesion of a specific team working toward common goals, emphasizing enhanced interactions, trust-building, and alignment with organizational objectives. In contrast, group coaching involves individuals who may not work together regularly but have come together to develop through shared experiences, focusing on personal growth, leadership, and skill development within a group context. While team coaching aims to optimize collective team effectiveness, group coaching leverages the diversity of participants to foster individual insights and learning, supporting each person's development within a collaborative environment.

When to Use a Team Coach

There are several proactive reasons to use a team coach:

  • New team/new team members with challenging and vital scope of work that requires a cohesive team

  • Team of leaders who know their organizations could be far more effective with greater connectivity with peer organization where there are disconnects and/or overlapping responsibilities or handoffs

  • Team of leaders tasked with making change across the organization

  • Team of leaders who need to better understand how to work more effectively with their stakeholders

  • Lack of productivity, engagement of team members

  • Lack of mutual accountability

  • Reduced trust or conflict amongst team members

Assessing Team Readiness for Coaching

A team coaching effort requires time and effort both on the part of the coach but also on the part of the team.

Teams who are ready to go deeper, get more connected and create even stronger results will exhibit the following traits:

1. Openness to feedback. Team members should demonstrate a willingness to receive and act upon feedback, indicating they are receptive to learning and improvement.

2. Shared goals. A clear alignment and understanding of team goals among members suggest readiness, as it signifies a collective focus and purpose.

3. Trust and collaboration. High levels of trust and effective collaboration within the team indicate a solid foundation for constructive coaching interactions.

4. Recognition of challenges. Teams acknowledging their challenges and seeking strategies to overcome them show readiness to engage in coaching for growth and development.

5. Leadership support. Visible support and encouragement from team leaders for coaching initiatives reinforce the team's readiness to engage in the process.

What is Different About The Heffelfinger Company Approach to Team Coaching?

Lori's journey with teams began in graduate school, where she delved into the dynamics of Self-Directed Work Teams for her thesis. She subscribes to Georgina Woudstra's perspective on team coaching which emphasizes the transformation of teams and organizational systems by enhancing collective awareness, meaning-making, and responsibility. She believes in the untapped wisdom of people and encourages coaches to trust in the process and themselves, aiming to create impactful, sustainable change and solve problems within teams.

Throughout her career, Lori has dedicated herself to working closely with various teams, particularly focusing on Leadership Teams. Lori is a firm advocate of collaboration and has witnessed firsthand the transformative power of cohesive teams. At the core of her approach is the belief that coaching is a co-created relationship, emphasizing humility as the coach works alongside the team, continually learning and growing together. She works with groups of 12 or fewer to ensure a successful team coaching experience.

Lori shares her best teaming experience:

“I was on an HR leadership team in Honeywell - our team was geographically dispersed across businesses in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Each of us had a dual hard line reporting relationship to a general manager and a sector HR executive. The culture was fast paced, results oriented with an expectation of strong influence leadership. The business and organization structure were complex and the organization placed a high value on simultaneously getting great business results and executing on functional change initiatives. So, any given business leader was evaluated both on their financials and their engagement in enterprise initiative execution. This expectation included the ability to staff, develop, and reward talent who could collaborate and execute together. But in that context, I still worked on an exceptional team.

The leader of the team had high expectations of results and team collaboration to get those results. She absolutely would not tolerate us talking about each other and not working together, nor executing on results or pushing our individual businesses on initiatives. I learned more in three years in that business than I had my entire career before that and I am friends with members of that team still to this day. We worked hard, were there for each other, and celebrated our collective successes.”

Work Smarter with A Connected Team

Team coaching offers significant benefits by transforming silo-thinking and silo behavior into greater engagement, collaboration, communication, commitment, and consensus. Heffelfinger team coaches will help your team work smarter by fostering a connected, cohesive environment where everyone pulls together in the same direction. Our coaches provide tailored strategies and real-time feedback to enhance team dynamics, build trust, and align team objectives with organizational goals, ultimately driving high performance and shared success. Contact us today to get started!


Lori & James

Lori Heffelfinger & James Jackman


Georgina Woudstra. June 10, 2021. MASTERING THE ART OF TEAM COACHING. Team Coaching Studio Press.

Douglas K. Smith and Jon Katzenbach. October 13, 2015. The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization. Brighton, Massachusetts, Harvard Business Review Press.

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