Team interaction and morale was at a low today. The same unspoken motivation issue remain unsaid and the same people put their individual needs and priorities before the team needs. The stark realisation was that within our team motivation is the crucial factor missing; motivation to do, motivation to change, motivation to reflect. There is very little motivation.
The lack of motivation seems to be interconnected to the motivation of the individuals within the group. When one member is despondent, the whole group walks away. There is an air of failure before the task even hits the half way mark when the same issues and mistake reappear. The focus of our coaching sessions and our meetings focus on the “what we aren’t doing” which is demotivating and the “what we should be doing”, which often seems to idealistic and a process that will not only be difficult and challenging but also a lot of effort. We rarely use our coaching sessions to explore why there is a lack of engagement and a lack of motivation or to consider what we will do as a team. Hence we remain stagnant and stuck, dwelling unproductively on negatives. Moreover, our promises within meetings, our strategies, interventions, stay within meetings; they don’t convert into practical action. This lack of movement within our teams is frustrating and demotivating.
Our reflections within our teams remain, as the rest of our team activities, a collection of self-focused individuals. Hence, my reflections have often reflected on my contributions and things that I have control over; things that are tangible to me. Clutterbuck (2013) considers that reflection and coaching shouldn’t just focus on the individual. Consequently, individual reflection needs to go alongside team reflection; developing a whole solution, instead of just identifying separate parts of an issue.
The whole solution view point is crucial to the success of the coaching process; the team as a unit has to buy into the process, utilise the process and see the value. Clutterbuck (2013:18) considers misunderstanding the process and the inevitable demands, “evokes resistance” to the coaching process. Our coaching sessions exemplify this; our coached solutions are superficial and half-hearted and feel forced. Coaching makes the challenging and uncomfortable unavoidable within the session, but it doesn’t enforce without. Once you remove the coaching, you can revert to normal semi-oblivious behaviours.
As a team we wait for outside intervention, considering that we need to be told what to do and someone else may know better than us. Consequently, we feel a lack of accountability within the team, instead waiting for a higher authority. When outside authority doesn’t manifest, the team disengages and falters forward, adding to its ineffectiveness. Our team needs to embrace the Clutterbuck’s (2013) ethos of coaching from within; the team coaches the team and takes accountability for its own behaviour. Not only would this be sustainable and potentially be more effective, it would also change the teams culture. We’d become a team that shares knowledge, supports each other and motivates each other. Consequently, the motivation has to come from within.
Clutterbuck (2007) defines team coaching as “a learning intervention designed to increase collective capability and performance of a group or team, through application of the coaching principles of assisted reflection, analysis and motivation and change”. Such a definition is idealised and exemplifies what coaching should achieve in practice, but the reality with our team, can be starkly different. Clutterbuck (2013) explores what team coaching “should” do and doesn’t focus on the realities of what coaching actually achieves. Baring in mind, a team like ours has a different culture, different needs, different pace of thinking and different degree of psychologically safety. He advances that coaching should help team honesty, define the team, understanding the environment, understanding processes, identifying performance barriers, managing conflict positively, building a learning plan, build team trust and enable team coaching. (Clutterbuck 2013) This process, in theory should aid a team to blossom into efficiency, effectiveness and productivity as “one unit” (Clutterbuck 2013:19).
Clutterbuck (2013:19) highlights a problem within his own idealism “coaching can only be effective when all the team members have a stake”. What happens when the team members don’t have a stake? What happens if they should have a stake, but just don’t feel a connection or have a vested interest in the topics the coaching is guiding through? To put it frankly, what if some of the participants simply don’t care? If coaching can be compared to therapy, like it often is within the academic literature, then the age old theory about therapy effectiveness is proved true; people can only help themselves if they want to help themselves. Without this motivation, surely, this is a fatalistic stumbling block within our group coaching; we don’t want to help ourselves.
Team coaching for our team must focus on certain aspects of the coaching process, if to have any effectiveness at all. It must concentrate on establishing team honesty; question the hard question of why the team isn’t engaged and motivated to change? This is a crucial question our team needs to address and answer. Second to this, is identifying exactly what our barriers are to performance and working together as a team. Clutterbuck (2013) considers that some great individual performances and some poor performances, can add up to a collective poor performance. Furthermore, the lack of improvement and progress demotivates those who engage with the team and further proves the pointlessness of the team, to the ones who don’t participate. The poor performance also provides places to hide within the team for none performers. Consequently, recognition, reward and team punishment should be based on a combination of team performance and individual performance.
As a team, we need to exploit the idea of the whole solution, instead of concentrating on singular events, performance, issues and experiences. The whole solution, in this case focuses on motivating the team to engage in the process, to care about the value of coaching and to gather the motivation to change. This can only be done if the group addresses, why we aren’t motivated within the process honestly. Otherwise the ineffectiveness will only increase and days like today, will increase in frequency. The whole solution starts with answering the question, why don’t we care about the team?