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Dr. Catherine Carr, Individual and Team Coach, Consultant and Facilitator, Author and Director at Carr Kline & Associates

#013: The High Performance Team Coaching System

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and leading organizational coach Dr. Catherine Carr for this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.  Dr. Catherine Carr is an Individual and Team Coach, Consultant and Facilitator as well as a Director at Carr Kline & Associates in British Columbia Canada.  Catherine coaches leaders across Canada and internationally, from new supervisors to seasoned top executives.  She is an internationally respected leader in team coaching and development.  She is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation and a Registered Clinical Counselor.  In this episode, Dr. Catherine introduces The High Performance Team Coaching System.  The comprehensive system for leaders and coaches, developed by both Dr. Carr and her colleague Dr. Jacqueline Peters, was published in a book in 2013.  Dr. Carr walks listeners through six key aspects of the team coaching system including: 1. Assessment, 2. Coaching for Team Design. 3. Team Launch. 4. Individual Coaching. 5. Ongoing Team Coaching. 6. Review Learning & Successes.  Dr. Carr also discuss the centrality of safety in the team coaching model and how this approach to coaching impacts the quality outputs of a team, the team’s capabilities and relationships as well as the individual engagement of the team’s members.  The comprehensive system provides team coaches with a powerful framework that can be used for coaching both new as well as ongoing teams. This is an episode that is brimming over with practical tips, tools and value!


Learn more about Catherine at: 




  1. High-Performance-Team-Coaching-Model provided by Dr. Catherine Carr & Dr. Jacqueline Peters
  2. Peters, J., and Carr, C. (2013). 50 Tips for Terrific Teams! Proven Strategies for Building High Performance TeamsCalgary, AB: InnerActive Leadership Associates, Inc.
  3. Peters, J., and Carr, C. (2013). High Performance Team Coaching: A Comprehensive System for Leaders and CoachesCalgary, AB: InnerActive Leadership Associates, Inc.
  4. Hawkins, P (2014). Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership.
  5. Hawkins, P. (2012). Creating a Coaching Culture.
  6. Hackman, J.R. (2002). Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances. (Note: One chapter of this book is dedicated to the topic of team coaching).
  7. Britton, J. (2013). From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching.
  8. Guttman, H. (2008).  Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance.
  9. Gersick, C. (1991). Revolutionary Change Theories: A Multilevel Exploration of the Punctuated Equilibrium Paradigm.  The Academy of Management Review, 16(1): 10-36.
  10. Wageman, R., Nunes, D.A., Burruss, J.A., & Hackman, R.A. (2007). Senior Leadership Teams: What it Takes to Make Them Great.
  11. Lencioni, P. (2002). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.
  12. Deloitte University Press (2015). Global Human Capital Trends 2015.


Part 1 – Getting to Know the Team Coach: Dr. Catherine Carr

 Background on Dr. Carr

  • Individual and team coach, consultant and facilitator
  • Insightful, motivating, and strengths-based approach
  • Coaches leaders in Canada and internationally from new supervisors to top executives
  • Internationally respected leader in team coaching and development
  • Holds contracts with aboriginal, not-for-profit, private businesses, and public sector clients
  • Certified Coach with International Coaching Federation
  • Registered Clinical Counselor
  • Background in: Internal leadership coaching, strategic planning and program development with British Columbia provincial government, individual, family and group counseling, provincial mental health consulting work with Ministry of Child and Friendly Development and Emergency Mental Health and Intake Services with Island Health
  • Doctorate in Leadership Development and Executive Coaching
  • Won the Goulding Award for most outstanding professional doctorate of 2012 for her research on team effectiveness and team coaching.
  • Author of a number of books on team coaching and team effectiveness
  • Colleague of Dr. Jacqueline Peters who was on the show in episode 012
  • Based in Victoria, BC, Canada
  • From the Prairie, born in Saskatoon and raised in Calgary, then made way to the coast.

How Dr. Carr got into Team Coaching

  • Started with ecology and environmental studies a long time ago
    • Foundational degree in thinking about systems and how we create and advocate change
  • With coaching self, got clear about what she most loved: helping organizations and individuals make change
  • Segued into counseling, grass roots development, led programs to train counselors in personal and professional growth, did her own practice, systemic work (couples, organizations and even in working with individuals thinking about who they were within their family)
  • Many people came to her practice seeking help with motivation, shifting habits and accelerating change, so she added coaching to her practice.
  • Did a program at Royal Roads University and then wanted to take it further into research and being at the front of the field which was team coaching.

How Dr. Carr linked up with Dr. Peters?

  • Were in same cohort in Middlesex University doing a doctorate in coaching
  • Shared passion for working collaboratively and for team coaching
  • Looking for a team learning style that was dynamic and active and team focused
  • Wanted to ensure that each other’s research could be seen individually and together
  • Did a dual case study – Dr. Carr studied team coaching within the public sector and Jacqueline within the private sector.
  • Looking at themes of each other’s studies, they realized there were significant similarities and a joint model emerged from there.

Other Background Information on Dr. Carr

  • It seems like most people have stumbled into team coaching as a practitioner wanting to do more sustainable change. Where did the term team coaching crystalize for you and when did you latch onto it?
  • There’s a lot of background in occupational development field that was working with teams, more from a consultant or diagnostic angle but nonetheless there’s a background there. There are also traditions in Europe that have been working in team coaching.
  • For Dr. Carr, it arose organically, first heard in Royal Roads University
  • Took a role to lead an action leadership program from team coaching perspective, then looked into the leadership
  • Had good fortune to be part of a new team across British Columbia government situated in performance management branch, that set up a coaching program for the whole of government, about 26,000 employees. About 20 coaches offering coaching across the province to anyone who needed it.
  • Was involved with first design team. Was doing research at that time and could bring that in
  • Developed a model that included assessment and a one day team day launch and continued contact including coaching team leader.
  • Was able to experiment for a couple of years with a variety of teams in different branches across government
  • Have had a private practice for about 20 years also
  • Worked with aboriginal communities, was brought into work with a group with a coach who led organization and wanted to develop a team culture
    • Work needs to be culturally relevant
  • Cultures vary in all engagements
  • On Introducing Team Coaching to 26,000 People
    • Mentee of Peter Hawkins during doctorate, who’s written books on team coaching
    • Thought about creating coaching cultures
    • Coaching culture elements: having a champion, embedding into business and HR practices, top-down and ground-up. Teach the skills.
  • Wonders about adult development – are adults more individually focused because it’s easier, or is it that’s just where we are in our development?
  • It’s a developmental step to think about self and the other and then go beyond that to think about the meta-level of the collective.
  • Keegan’s books deal with this – In Over Our Heads and Immunity to Change
  • Our problems are higher level order conscious problems but most of our thinking is not on that level
  • Hackman and Wageman (2005), Wakeman, Nunes, Burruss & Hackman (2008) – team development is not just an additive function of individuals becoming team players. We go further when we think about the collective and think of the team.
  • Maybe there’s another driver that will take team coaching forward – coming from our Millenials. Deloitte’s Capital Trends study 2015 – the number one problem that countries that companies are facing is employee retention and engagement
  • What do younger people want? We know they want mobility and opportunity but they also want conversations that give them clear feedback on the work they’re doing so they can grow where they are. They want career conversations about the future and want their boss to be looking inside and out with them. Takes a high level of trust in relationship.
  • We have a lot to learn from millenials through technology, collective focus, cross-generational learning. They will take us to another level.
  • Much work now is virtual – can use online platforms to open dialogue
  • Books by Carr and Peters, based on their dissertation work: High Performance Team Coaching System and Fifty Tips for Terrific Teams
  • Also collaborated on peer reviewed journal articles and other articles for magazines

Part 2 – The High Performance Team Coaching System

  • Six steps:
    • Pre-assessment
    • Coaching for Team design
    • Team launch
    • Individual coaching
    • Ongoing team coaching
    • Reviewing lessons learned and successes
  • Wanted to make something simple and accessible for coaches
  • Driven by understanding that teams are incredible drivers of business results. We spend so much time on teams that they need to be places that sustain us.
  • Only 1 of 5 senior teams are high performing.
  • Model includes something around team cycle timing. Based on Connie Gersick (1991) research – change is episodic, goes in spurts.
  • We can time our interventions with change cycle and try to create the cycle as well
  • Imagine a pie and in the pie there are six pieces: safety in the middle, assessment, coaching for team design, team launch, individual coaching, ongoing team coaching, and review of learning and success (most people don’t do last step without conscious effort or an external person to support).
  • It’s about team effectiveness. What is the future calling us to do? (Peter Hawkins).
  • Increasing effectiveness creates better business output, but effecitve teams get better at working together each time they work together in each cycle.
  • Individuals can then also feel like they are learning and growing on the team
  • Safety is in the middle – physiological element (I feel trusting, I can settle my nervous system, can be myself, come forward, can stretch and grow and be vulnerable).
  • Why is safety in the middle? One of the foundational elements is trust. Lencioni (2002)
  • Trust or safety – bring neurobiology into leadership learning – how do people feel trust? Physiological safety. Heart rate goes down, pupils dilate. You can tell when people have that sense. When stress rises, we all have fight, flight, freeze kinds of responses, and when we do that, we don’t think so clearly.
  • A lot of models of trust – REINA model on building trust. Types of trust: contractual (reliability, consistency), communication and competence
  • Trust is essential. Sometimes teams aren’t ready for team coaching, not enough trust.
    • Recommendations for a team that’s not ready: coach senior top two tier and have changes cascade down, performance management issues, clarify roles and resp, to consider restructuring
    • Team coaching timing matters
  • Structure accounts for success, too.
  • Coaching for team design – we need to address underlying causes that give rise to conflicts in the first place, having to do with structure
  • If assessment reveals team is not ready to implement all steps – no time, resources, support – might choose to work with team leader on team design. What factors can help that team succeed?
    • Questions like: How often do they meet? What is that person’s decision making structure?
  • Team launch – open space for conversation, trust, authentic shifts.
  • Want every person on that team to have the sense that you’re there for them as well as the team leader and the collective. Do a lot of that in individual interview, before getting to team launch
  • Team launch – team charter – 1 page. Sometimes results of team event fade. A written charter preserves it. It’s also fun for teams to design, to align their identity with it. Sense of belonging. Represents their vision and engagement.
  • Individual coaching – 4th piece – two aspects most important to create results: 1) creating solid working agreements, focus not on the what but on the how. i.e., We agree to call it when someone’s overtaken the conversation and we’re off the agenda. Give people the space to say what’s difficult to say, shift the mental model. 2) Individual coaching.
  • Build capacity for peer coaching. Corporate Board of Canada research – peer coaching is sometimes stronger driver than the team manager.
  • Leader sometimes does team coaching, too. Example:
    • One team did all the steps, then shifted to Dr. Carr attending every second team coaching meeting to support the meeting. Team leader led the whole thing. Team leader eventually took on that role fully.
    • Process – checking if team is following its working agreement. Outside coach acts as a “remote control” to pause, rewind, fast forward, etc. the conversation, jump in when help is needed.
  • Meet with teams 2 -3 weeks after a launch, then monthly, but it’s always customized and depends on team – both face to face and virtual
  • Last piece – review of learning and successess
    • Teams often skip this part – sometimes do a stakeholder assessment (team 360) at beginning and end, sometimes use scales to measure: Where do you think you are around these abilities?
  • Model really works for new teams but also for ongoing teams who need reboots – health metaphor. Teams that have been around a while need new beginnings. Even if a team is a little dusty it needs to get re-energized.
  • Hawkins’ five level of team interventions is a huge contribution to the field. Team coaching at different levels of complexity – continuum:
    • Team facilitation
    • Team performance coaching (tasks and results)
    • Leadership team coaching (team that’s leading teams, outward focused, stakeholder focus)
    • Transformational leadership team coaching (task, process, stakeholder and organizational transformation)
    • Systemic team coaching (system focus, seeing this as a system, coaching between board and another board). Developmental continuum.
    • Learn how to play a bigger game.
  • Carr likes the term: “team advance” instead of “team retreat”

Part 3 – Parting Advice/Resources/Recommendations

Parting Advice

  • Go for it!
  • Partner in your team coaching – have one person tracking the system, and another thinking of individuals or leaders and their role
  • Find a mentor. Dr. Carr mentors, but there are many more out there.

Contacting Dr. Carr

  • http://catherinecarr.cacoach
  • http://www.counsellingvictoria.com

Books and Resources Recommended

  • Peter Hawkins’ books
  • Leadership Team Coaching in Practice, Leadership Team Coaching, Creating Coaching Cultures
  • Jennifer Britton’s books
  • Howard Guttman – Great Business Teams, 2008

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