Coaching Works - Jan Portillo

Association for Coaching
Association of Coach Training Organizations
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Coaches Training Institute
CRR Global
European Mentoring and Coaching Council
International Coach Federation
Team Coaching International
Team Diagnostic Assessment

I work with teams as entities rather than as collections of individuals. Approaches include experiential learning and powerful questioning.

I am an authorised facilitator of a powerful team diagnostic tool which provides a unique profile of the whole team, its current strengths and opportunities,and development possibilities. An online anonymous questionnaire is completed in about 20 minutes by each team member and the data is used to compile a customised report for the team as a whole. This report opens the door for focused coaching, by jointly exploring the team's potential for becoming even better.

The desired outcomes of team coaching are agreed with you in advance, and the impetus of the coaching is towards these objectives.

Team Coaching Case Study

Client Profile: A local council in England with responsibility for education services.

Team:  The Team was part of the City Local Authority and comprised 6 people with different roles, all focused on delivering high quality education and training opportunities for 14-19 year old learners.

Snapshot: The Team Coaching took place in a complex and shifting environment.  The processes and tools helped the team face new challenges.  

Overview: This high profile local government team wanted to understand how to become an even better team, in order to deliver a complex and challenging 14-19 education agenda in their area.

Context and Need: The team was a high performing, highly productive team, and some members had worked together for a long time. The team led partnership working to develop inclusive learning choices for 14-19 year old learners.

The team operated in a complex and uncertain environment; were focused; highly motivated by improving the opportunities for local learners, and proud of their achievements to date. They wanted to drive change and deliver a range of challenges.

The Team’s desire was to use the Team Diagnostic Assessment and the Team Coaching process to move the team to the next level, and become the best team they could possibly be.

The Team Leader wanted:-

  • clarity on what a ‘4 star top team’ looks and feels like    
  • to be able to articulate this      
  • to identify the current team reality, the desired state, and the steps needed to achieve this.

The specific outcomes the team were looking for were:-     

  • a greater understanding of each other’s perspectives     
  • the creation of collective learning and reflective time 
  • the ability to create space for prioritising and planning
  • more dynamic and productive meetings       
  • more effective communications within the team

Our Approach

The Team’s initial need was identified through an Orientation process undertaken with the Team Leader, the sponsor of the Team Coaching. It was agreed that the Team Diagnostic Assessment would provide a helpful picture of the Team’s current state, identify the characteristics of top teams, and begin the process of Team Coaching to identify the actions which would move the team forward.

The Team completed the Assessment within the short deadline. They were very focused on the ‘doing’ aspects of their work, with less attention on the ‘being’ elements.

The Team Coaching was scheduled for 2 all-day off-site sessions, some time apart, with timings arranged to ensure that all members of the team could commit to be present.

The first Team Coaching day came a day after a significant and unexpected event: the announcement of a re-structure within the larger Children’s Services Team. At that time the Team was very uncertain about the team’s role within the re-organisation, and their own positions.

The agenda for the first day was re-designed to meet the team where they were with the new circumstance. The morning session focused on building trust and expressing where they were and wanted to be: they created a team gesture, and explored the characteristics of their ‘Best Team’ to build positivity. They designed a Team Contract with agreements for how they wanted to be with the new context. We used the Quad Exercise to explore and reflect on where they were; what risks and issues were present; and what actions they wanted to take.

After lunch, the focus was on exploring each other’s roles and feelings, and the impact of the news through Lands Work using a Meta Skills Wheel.

The second scheduled day of Team Coaching by chance coincided with the last day the team would be together as a team. The role of the team, and the different destinations and new designations of its members were clearer, and the team would no longer exist in its current form, with some members leaving altogether. Again, this called for a re-design of the day with the team.

The outcomes of the Team Diagnostic Assessment were shared, and Team Coaching conversations came from these. The focus was on leveraging the strengths and achievements of the team so that they were able to reflect, articulate and celebrate their successes, and identify what they wanted to take forward into their new teams and roles.

An experiential exercise was created with an ‘edge’ to cross: one side held the past achievements, and the other held the future. Towards the end of the day the team had a ceremony to acknowledge and affirm each other’s strengths.

Methodology:  The Team Coaching approach focused on the team as a whole, and ensured that all the different voices in the team were heard in a safe and confidential environment. The Team Diagnostic Assessment enabled a new discussion about what was working in the team, and what was important. The experiential learning approaches allowed the team to articulate questions and issues that had not previously been aired.


The Team reported that Coaching had enabled them to:-        

  • clarify and articulate the team’s position and prepare for the change ahead       
  • understand the potential impact of the re-structure and focus on the team’s needs      
  • reflect on team roles and understand how the team works together in a new situation        
  • understand the feelings of others    
  • clarify thinking and focus on the issues to address 
  • acknowledge strengths and weaknesses       
  • have a shared understanding about what the team values 
  • understand the complexity of partnership working and how to support others        
  • reflect on past successes and accomplishments 
  • agree actions to support closure       
  • have a new language to express what was happening.

The team benefited from being able to recognise and celebrate their achievements and strengths as a team, and move more positively into new and different teams, with a clearer idea of what they wanted to co-create there.

In this video, I briefly outline the benefits of Coaching for Teams:

Jan on Teams from Jan Portillo on Vimeo.

About me
I am an independent leadership coach and coach facilitator who coaches leaders of change in public and private organisations. I support and challenge individuals and organisations to grow through reflection, learning and action.

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