Coaching the team as a unit is critical. Improving teamwork cannot be achieved by individual coaching or individual development alone.
Hackman and Wageman (2005) define team coaching as direct interaction with a team intended to help members make coordinated and task-appropriate use of their collective resources in accomplishing the team’s work. Coaching a team focusses on improving its effectiveness, which makes a team more likely to produce sustainable and repeatable performance in their outcomes.
All members of a team can receive individual coaching to improve their personal capabilities and yet the team’s performance may not show any notable improvement, according to a study of 100+ top teams from around the world by Wageman et al. (2008).
“A surprising finding from our research is that teams do not improve markedly even if all their members receive individual coaching to help develop their personal capabilities. Individual coaching can indeed help executives become better leaders in their own right, but the team does not necessarily improve […] Team development is not an additive function of individuals becoming more effective team players, but rather an entirely different capability. The reason for that is not immediately obvious. In essence, it is the because the team itself is an entity separate from the individuals who constitute it. For the team to get better that entity needs to be coached while members are actually carrying out their collaborative work.”