Individual or Team Coaching? Which Will Help You Reach Your Goals?

Written by on January 21, 2016

One-on-one and team coaching both have the potential to deliver significant benefits to people – and to the organizations in which they work. But how do you know which choice is right for you?

Team Coaching versus Individual Coaching?

It’s not necessarily about pursuing one over the other; choosing team or individual coaching is a matter of looking at the change the client is trying to achieve and asking: “What is the best way to get there?” Would the change – whether mastering a new skill, preparing for a new role, or any of the myriad reasons people seek or are referred for coaching – be best facilitated through one-on-one support or a team approach?

One-on-one coaching centers around executives or leaders who want to create change within themselves; maybe they need to hone a new skill or capability. Perhaps they are new in their role and want to gain the confidence to lead authentically; or they’re veterans and need to gain a fresh perspective. While leadership coaching can, and does, affect the team, it is really about the individual and their personal and professional objectives.

Team coaching involves both leaders and team members. They have a common goal. They may need to achieve a specific outcome or to operate differently as a group. Involving the team in the process, rather than just the leader, becomes a significant benefit. They create the change collectively rather than the leader trying to change the team itself.

A Combined Approach

At the same time, one-on-one and team coaching are not mutually exclusive. In one approach to team coaching, for instance, the leader agrees to individual coaching outside of the team setting, as well as live during team coaching sessions. This gives them the opportunity to better understand the dynamics of the team and their place as its leader.

There are times when individual members of the team would also benefit from one-on-one coaching. In situations like this, it pays to be cautious: the coach doesn’t want to wear too many hats. Say, for instance, that a coach is working with a team and a leader, and there is a request for individual coaching for one of the members.Avoid having one coach ‘take it all on’. Use the opportunity to match the individual with another coach. This affords that person the opportunity for independent coaching – and, with the client’s permission, the team coach can share perspectives with the independent coach to help the individual achieve their goals.

For the most part, one-on-one coaching is about the individual, not the team. Team coaching is about the team dynamic. It’s about the whole, not the individual. To determine which approach to take, always keep the goals in mind and ask: what is the best way to get there?