Team Coaching ROI: Cohesion, Resilience and Clarity (part 1 of 2)

By Guest Blogger Grace Flannery, CPCC, PCC, ORSCC

As a coach, I frequently examine the impact I have on my clients as a way of measuring progress. Organizations seeking to justify the investment in team coaching have relied upon employee and customer satisfaction surveys, productivity and retention metrics, and anecdotal evidence. However, the greatest breakthroughs from coaching often elude measurement, and if one were required to assign a price tag, each would be deemed “priceless.”

  1. Cohesion – created when all team members share a sense of belonging to the group, and know their voices are heard and their contributions valued. Behaviors that demonstrate cohesion include a willingness to endure sacrifices for the good of the group, and defending against challenges that arise from outside the group.
  2. Resilience – a team’s ability to integrate new members, absorb loss, adapt to meet change, and manage pressure, while maintaining a stable, healthy environment for its members.
  3. Clarity – a team’s shared, lucid, clear vision of the problem or situation and its contributing factors. Once this is achieved, an effective solution can be developed.

Coaching teams is a very different proposition from coaching individuals, because my exposure and impact can be far greater. As an ORSC™ practitioner (Organization and Relationship Systems Coach, I’m often asked to explain what distinguishes my approach from the other schools of thought about team coaching. We know that a team is more than a collection of individuals—its shared strengths, weaknesses, skills, knowledge and culture combine to create what we’ve called the Third Entity™. Essentially, this is the “client” with whom we establish the coaching relationship—not individuals on the team.

When we share this insight with teams, there is often an immediate and visceral reaction of relief: “we knew our team had its own identity, but we just didn’t know what to call it.” The Relationship Systems approach takes the focus away from individuals (John or Mary is the problem with this team), thereby deactivating blame, defensiveness, and other obstacles we typically encounter in team coaching. We view individual behaviors as a signal being sent by the “system,” removing the need to scapegoat. Just replacing John or Mary won’t fix the problem—another employee will step in to play that role. The coaching looks deeper, to identify what the system is trying to express through this behavior, and what changes the system is calling for.

Clients come to coaching because they have problems, and your job is to help them find the solutions. The extent to which you do that is how they will measure your impact on the team. The highest levels of satisfaction have been reported when my clients have been able to achieve one or more of the following with their teams in pursuit of solutions: Cohesion, Resilience, and Clarity. In this post, we will focus on Cohesion.


One of my clients, a non-profit organization, came to me with some serious HR issues: staff members felt they were treated unfairly, gossip and back-biting ensued, which then spilled into the community that the non-profit was serving. In some cases, these issues escalated to lawsuits.One of the concepts we explored is called Deep Democracy, which requires every member of a team to share his or her voice, no matter how unpopular the sentiment may be. Only when a team has a comprehensive view of its beliefs, knowledge and skill, can it achieve cohesion.

The executive team, after an intensive and sustained coaching intervention, has created a much healthier environment, reduced the number of HR issues, achieved peace among the staff and community, and shifted their energy toward serving the high ideals around which the agency was originally built. They have just successfully launched a new branch of services and expanded the reach of their policy work. The primary point of contact, to his credit, has internalized many of the team coaching techniques I used and is now applying them with his entire organization.

Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.
– Henry Ford

Next, we’ll explore Resilience and Clarity.

Contributor’s Bio

​Grace Flannery, MS, PCC, CPCC, ORSCC is an executive coach and leadership trainer with 30 years in coaching, consulting, staff, and board capacities in social services, social change, health, industry, and philanthropy. In addition to being a Faculty Member of CRR Global for their ICF accredited ORSC™ training (Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching™), she is also the founder and president of Leading Spirit, Inc, specializing in leadership and organizational development, change management, and building clients’ capacity for skillful execution of their leadership agenda.

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