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The big book of team coaching games
Quick, Effective Activities to Energize, Motivate, and Guide Your Team to Success
By Mary Scannell, Mike Mulvihill, Joanne Schlosser
McGraw-Hill EducationCopyright © 2013 Mary Scannell, Mike Mulvihill, and Joanne Schlosser
All rights reserved.
What Is Team Coaching?
Coaching works, and because it works we will continue to see it grow and evolve for many years to come.
Team Coaching Games
This book is meant to be a resource for a coach or facilitator. These team coaching games can be played to help build team cohesiveness, break the ice, and prepare the team to move forward together. The team coaching games in this book provide ideas and activities you can incorporate into your team coaching efforts. They range from verbal activities to physical activities and can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or longer. Each game comes with complete instructions including how many people can participate and any supplies you will need or advance preparations you will want to make. As the coach, please review the Objectives and Setting the Context sections of each game to determine which games will best serve the specific objective you wish to accomplish.
Teams that have fun together are better able to retain the learning, break down barriers, and build stronger relationships. The discussion questions are useful in guiding the conversation to debrief the activity, to verbalize the lessons learned, and, where appropriate, to discuss how to take the learning back to work to help the team move forward.
Who Is This Book For?
This is not a how-to manual for becoming a coach. This book is designed for people who are already experienced coaches, who have some experience in team coaching or are team or group facilitators, and who are comfortable in the role.
The coach can be an internal resource for the organization or an external resource. There are many organizations worldwide that certify coaches. The International Coach Federation (www.coachfederation.org) is the best known with over 21,000 members in 110 countries worldwide. A certified coach has training in basic coaching skills and has met some specific criteria to serve as a coach.
The three levels of certification recognized by the International Coach Federation are:
Associate Certified Coach (ACC), which requires a minimum of 60 hours of coaching education and a minimum of 100 hours of coaching experience.
Professional Certified Coach (PCC), which requires a minimum of 125 hours of coaching education and a minimum of 750 hours of coaching experience.
Master Certified Coach (MCC), which requires a minimum of 200 hours of coaching education and a minimum of 2,500 hours of coaching experience.
Each of the above credentials has additional requirements.
Not all coaches have facilitation skills training or work with teams. Not all facilitators are trained coaches. Ideally, the person leading these team coaching games is a coach who is skilled at coaching and facilitating teams.
Our Definition of Team Coaching
Team coaching is a means to accelerate the team development process. Team coaching means working with an intact team to develop and/or accelerate the ability of the team to work together to achieve results. The coach also usually provides one-on-one coaching to the team leader to help the leader achieve the desired results in the most effective way. The goal is to improve the quality of communication and relationships while creating a clear vision of the future so the team can move together in the desired direction to accomplish their task(s).
Using a formal process for team coaching accelerates the results a team might achieve and works to hold the team members accountable for their results and their commitments to one another. Team coaching enables ideas and improvements toward team goals to be worked on and shared in real time, because learning, action, and cooperation are integrated into the team journey and outcomes.
Our Definition of Team Building
Team building refers to the various activities undertaken to build rapport among the team members and increase the overall performance of the team. You can't expect that team members will perform on their own; they need communication, trust, and a vision of where they are going. Team-building activities consist of various tasks and games that will work to strengthen the bond among the team members toward one another and toward the achievement of their objective.
Team building is an element of team coaching. Team coaching provides more of a big picture approach and incorporates elements of team building, coaching, and facilitation to ensure the team reaches its goals. Figure 1 shows how the components intersect and interrelate. For more information on the stages of team and group development, look at Chapter 3. Understanding these will enable team members to recognize their current stage and help them progress to the next stage more readily.
Our Definition of Coaching
Coaching is a focused, transformational process that supports self-discovery, change, and action. It is an empowering way of relating to others that allows them to find the answers for themselves. Coaching can be provided to an individual, team, or group.
Our Definition of Facilitation
Facilitation is provided by one or more individuals who can remain neutral while working to keep an agenda on track in order to ensure that all voices at a meeting are heard, to bring forth new ideas, and/or to move actions forward. Teams often benefit from the skills of a formally trained facilitator for this reason.
Alternatively, different team members may take turns facilitating to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate fully, when not serving as facilitator. Facilitation may be a onetime event but is most effective over a period of time. The same facilitator, from within or outside the organization, may work with a team or group over time to focus the group on identifying and achieving results. Facilitators are often used for important business meetings, strategic planning sessions, and retreats.
Skills for Effective Coaching
The International Coach Federation (ICF) has a terrific list of the eleven coaching competencies they believe every coach should possess. Here, we are choosing to highlight just two of them. In order to become a certified coach through the ICF, you must attend a qualified coaching school to learn these competencies and then pass a test demonstrating your skills. Active listening and powerful questioning are two essential qualities of effective coaches and leaders who want to operate in a more coach-like way to inspire and encourage their team to achieve their best efforts.
People may think that powerful coaching focuses on speaking and providing advice or solutions, but it actually starts with deep listening. Successful coaches have a way of listening that we call committed listening. It starts with listening from a commitment to "give people the gift of your presence,"—high-quality time and attention. It involves listening from a commitment to bring out the best in the person being coached. This new way of listening is not transactional in nature, giving advice or tips or using specific techniques. It embraces but goes beyond all this and is transformational with respect to the person being engaged with. Committed listening means listening from a commitment to the greatness (highest and best self) of the person being coached (the coachee) even when that person is not at his or her best.
It involves listening to understand what people passionately care about and how that links into the extraordinary future they want to create for themselves and their teams. Coaching creates a safe space for the person or team being coached to share deeply and fully when others are willing to listen deeply, with encouragement and without judgment.
Several of the skills ICF lists for active listening (http://www.coach federation.org/icfcredentials/core-competencies/) include:
Hears the client's concerns, goals, values, and beliefs about what is and is not possible.
Distinguishes between the words, the tone of voice, and the body language.
Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, and mirrors back what client has said to ensure clarity and understanding.
Encourages, accepts, explores, and reinforces the client's expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, suggestions, and so on.
"Bottom-lines" or understands the essence of the client's communication and helps the client get there rather than engaging in long descriptive stories.
My most impactful conversations, whether coaching or not, are in the first five minutes or less when you show up with presence and energy and powerful questions that shape the conversation into a deeper place. I ask myself how I can create the relationship with essence and energy to help the other person reveal more. The questions need to have meaning and context, which comes through listening and sincere connection.
—Sandy Scott, certified coach
There are many types of questions. Leading questions give the illusion that the other person is solving the problem, when in reality you are guiding that person to a definitive answer. Closed questions require limited choices such as "yes" or "no" and should be used infrequently. Coaching demands the use of powerful questioning.
The ICF definition of powerful questioning is the "ability to ask questions that reveal the information needed for maximum benefit to the coaching relationship and the client."
Some of the key skills ICF notes for powerful questioning include:
Asks questions that reflect active listening and an understanding of the client's perspective.
Asks questions that evoke discovery, insight, commitment, or action (e.g., those that challenge the client's assumptions).
Asks open-ended questions that create greater clarity, possibility, or new learning.
Asks questions that move the client towards what they desire, not questions that ask for the client to justify or look backwards.
Preparing to Be a Team Coach—Set Yourself Up for Success
As a team coach, your job is to work with the team leader and the team to help them achieve their goal. These games provide you with a fun way to engage the team in everything from icebreakers and relationship-building games to games that spur their creative thinking, improve their processes, and increase their ability to hold themselves accountable. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the right games and sequence them to achieve the desired results of that team. You are helping them move forward through the stages of team development into achieving an important goal for their organization. We wish you much success and fun on the journey.
The Benefits of Using Team Coaching Games
The path to greatness is along with others.
People work most effectively when interacting with others they know and trust. Team coaching games, whether used with an intact work team, a project team, or an entire organization, enable people to build trust and rapport, which can lead to better outcomes. Team coaching games are versatile and can be used in a variety of situations:
As a quick icebreaker to set a positive tone
As the framework for a retreat
At the beginning of a meeting
To illustrate important points
To reveal areas of potential concern
To increase awareness of the team's strengths and opportunities
To be a springboard for a deeper discussion
To provide a metaphor or touchstone that the team can reflect upon
To create a common language
To provide a safe entry point to crucial conversations
If you think games are a waste of time, we encourage you to think deeper, reflect more, and open yourself to the idea that games provide more than meets the eye. Be open to the possibility that games can achieve a deeper level of connection with other team members and with the work to be done than meetings alone can accomplish.
The Benefits of Games
Listed below are the benefits of games.
Games Are Fun
When we are having fun, we have more energy; energy contributes to motivation, and with increased motivation, we are more productive. Playing games can revitalize a team and build morale.
Games Are Safe
Games provide a safe environment for individuals and teams to learn through trial and error. Mistakes and failure usually provide valuable lessons. Oftentimes, failure leads to something better—failure inspires creativity and innovation. Leadership may encourage teams to try new things; however, if those new things result in failure, there may be repercussions. In the context of games, team members can explore, take risks, try out new skills, and make mistakes without the threat of extreme consequences.
Games Reveal Team Dynamics
While playing games, the dynamics of the team are revealed. The coach and the team can examine the dynamics to ensure that they serve the team and will help the team achieve their goals. The team is able to consider its strengths and weaknesses. Through games, team members can observe how they navigate change, how they interact under stress, and what roles they take on in a variety of situations. These dynamics and more can be observed and processed in the safe environment of the game.
Games Build Self-Awareness and Awareness of Others
Just as the dynamics of the team can be examined, so can the individuals who make up the team. Through games, team members are given the opportunity to try new roles and to become aware of their function on the team and how they contribute to the team unit. Games also provide an opportunity to see team members in a new light. Hidden skills are uncovered and personalities shine, which can open up exciting new possibilities. The discussion allows time for reflection. Here, team members can build awareness by examining their own performance and contributions. The discussion is also a time for team members to recognize the contributions of others. The coach can provide team and individual analysis to build more self-awareness on the team.
Games Build Trust
The first step in building trust is creating an environment where team members can begin to build a deeper level of connection and comfort with one another. Games accelerate this process. The right games create opportunities for deeper levels of self-disclosure, which increases vulnerability; a willingness to be vulnerable lays the groundwork for trust.
Games Remind Team Members of the Value of the Team
Many of the games contain a component of competition versus collaboration. Even the word game incites the competitive spirit. When transferred to the workplace, competition leads to distrust and unwillingness to share information. Through playing games, team members become aware of the value of teamwork. They get to experience the results when a collaborative approach is taken.
Games Provide Learning Opportunities
Games are a wonderful learning tool. Each game provides lessons, skills, and experiences that team members learn by playing the game. Better problem solving, improved decision making, clearer communication, and more effective interpersonal interactions are examples of skills the team learns and practices while engaged in the game.
Games Foster Long-Term Retention
Because of the active-learning nature of games, teams not only learn more, but they retain the lesson longer. The high level of engagement carries through to the post-game discussion. The debriefing discussions provide a way to connect what team members learned and experienced to the way they get their work done on a typical day.
Getting the Most from the Games in This Book
Picking the Right Game
Using the right game at the right time is key. Before choosing a game, ask yourself a few questions, such as: "In what stage of group formation is the team? What are some issues the team needs to work through? What are some skills they need to practice or improve? What would stretch the team in new ways?" Once you have an idea of the reasoning behind using a game with the team, take a look at your options. At the start of each game, you will see a When to Use This Game recommendation. From there, take a look at the Objectives section to make sure the game is a good fit for the team at this point in its development. Another area to read is the Setting the Context section of the game. These three areas will give you a good idea whether the game is right for the team and whether the timing is right. To get the most from the games, using them in the right context at the right time will provide the best coaching opportunities for the team. One additional place to check is the time requirement. Team coaching games can create an environment for growth within the team when you allow time for team members to play the game as well as plenty of time to discuss how the game relates to the way they get their work done as a team.
Excerpted from The big book of team coaching games by Mary Scannell, Mike Mulvihill, Joanne Schlosser. Copyright © 2013 Mary Scannell, Mike Mulvihill, and Joanne Schlosser. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill Education.
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