Six steps on the intervention ladder of the team coach

Sometimes I facilitate a team and I don’t actually need to do much. Just my presence, a curious look, a surprising nod, the setting, the agenda, attention: it does the job. Or rather: the team does it. In other situations I need to intervene. A group intervention is always a disturbance, and just like on the operating table: the less you intervene, the better. But what is an appropriate intervention? And how vigorous is effective? I will mention six intervention options which increase in severit

In dit artikel

The purpose of an intervention is to help the team

  • understand their own reality (level 1),
  • see this reality from a different perspective (level 2),
  • understand their very process of reality construction (level 3).


Inexperienced coaches often intervene too quickly and too strongly. They want to take a stand for example (‘It seems you have no common goal’), or they put everything into question (‘Are you using each other’s qualities enough?’). This inhibits the possibility of the team coming up with this themselves. Or, worse, it prompts resistance. Yet occasionally, as a coach, you just don’t seem to be getting any further and a provocation is required. As a last resort.

Below, I mention six steps on the intervention ladder. The first three could be called pull interventions and the last three are more push interventions. Obviously, you don’t need to climb this ladder step by step. Experienced team coaches jump back and forth: the point is that you are aware of what you’re doing. A general advice is to use the lightest possible intervention. Thus minimizing the chance that it’s about you instead of about the team.

Start with the lightest possible intervention. The less you have to intervene as a team coach, the better.

  1. Sharing observations– Start with simply giving back what you see or hear. Keep it neutral by reflecting without judgment: ‘About half has said something so far.’ It’s never absolutely neutral, because you are making a selection of what you give back. A little step further would be when you mention what you don’t hear. ‘In the last quarter no one has supported visibly anyone else.’
  2. Interviewing – You can ask questions to help the group generate new ideas. As most questions are leading, the more neutral you can be, the better. This is best achieved by keeping the question short. ‘How did that happen?’, ‘Can you tell us more about it?’, ‘Who agrees with this?’, ‘What was the result?
  3. Discussing viewpoints– You can also pose critical questions about what is said or done. ‘Is that true?’, ‘Is it useful?’, ‘Did those clients actually say that?’, ‘Could you also see it differently?’, ’Are there any other views?’. The difference with the following level (challenging) is that here you’re still looking for an opening. At the next level, you get the team to face the facts (or the ‘facts’ created by them).
  4. Challenging– Sometimes you need to focus the group and have them see they are beating around the bush. This requires a lot of skill and you run the risk of the group shutting up, avoiding the question or turning against you. You can’t do this without being a careful observer of what is going on under the table. If your interventions are not successful, you sometimes have to dig up something from the subconscious level. ‘Why does the team leader need to resolve this for you?’, ‘Is it true that only newcomers feel this?’, ‘Do you really want this?’, ‘I hear you but your non-verbal behavior shows the contrary!’
  5. Offering the choice– If the discussion bogs down or becomes very complex, you can gain clarity by offering a choice. You force the team to speak up. ‘Do we want to continue or not?’, ‘If we get permission, is it a go?’, ‘You can choose, should we do more or less of this?’ You can also show the consequences of choices: ‘If you allow this, there is no way back.’
  6. Provoking– This is the most defiant of interventions. You knowingly force the conversation to make something happen. It’s risky: the team may slam the door shut, or you completely miss the point. ‘I do not trust what you’re saying!’, ‘Do you believe this yourself?’, ‘If I were a member of this team I would not feel comfortable.’ Of course even harsher interventions are conceivable, but those are beyond coaching. You can reduce the risks of provocation by: contact and opening.

Stay in contact. In a good confrontation, contact is intense. Don’t let your anger take over, don’t turn away from the group, nor rise above it, and be still as appreciative as possible.

Keep an opening. Never make it too absolute. Allow space for the team and for yourself, or else you’ll back up in a corner where you never – credibly – get out of. Ensure nobody loses face. Even the sharpest confrontation can be loving when it comes from a good heart.

Aanverwante artikelen

Geef een reactie

Geef een reactie

Het e-mailadres wordt niet gepubliceerd. Vereiste velden zijn gemarkeerd met *

Welk account wil je maken?

Minimaal 8 tekens, 1 hoofdletter, 1 cijfer en 1 leesteken. Gebruik geen wachtwoord dat je elders ook gebruikt.

Aanmelden Ask me Anything

Zit je met een casus? Een lastige klus? Iets met je team of je rol als teamcoach of teamleider? Kom naar een online AmeA sessie, je mag alles vragen. Meld je aan! Het is van 10.00 tot 11.30. Kom wel op tijd, eerder weggaan kan.

Boek aanbevelen

Bestand delen

Je kunt een pdf-bestand delen op onze site. Een artikel, of iets anders moois. Stuur het ons en wij plaatsen het onder jouw naam op onze Download & Delen pagina.

Werkvorm posten

De instructie
Helder en in hele zinnen. Geen telegramstijl. Gebruik stappen of nummers. Of tussenkopjes in vet. Geef eventueel variaties of tips aan het eind. Doe géén copy-paste van een andere site of ander document!!

Account aanpassen

Minimaal 8 tekens, hoofdletter, cijfer en speciaal teken. Gebruik geen ww dat je elders gebruikt. 

Minimaal 8 tekens, 1 hoofdletter, 1 cijfer en 1 leesteken. Gebruik geen wachtwoord dat je elders ook gebruikt.

Minimaal 8 tekens, 1 hoofdletter, 1 cijfer en 1 leesteken. Gebruik geen wachtwoord dat je elders ook gebruikt.

Let op – als je geen bevestiging hebt ontvangen is het maken van je account niet gelukt. Je kunt dan niet inloggen.

Profiel maken of aanpassen

Leuk als je zichtbaar wilt zijn op de site. Ook klanten kunnen je profiel zien, maar alleen mensen die zijn ingelogd hebben zicht op je contactgegevens. 

  • Zo vierkant mogelijk
  • Vooral je gezicht
  • Max 500kb

Review maken

Onze studenten – misschien jij ook – hebben veel aan de reviews op onze site. Help jij toekomstige studenten met jouw review? Het mag eventueel anoniem of onder pseudoniem. Veel dank!

complete opleiding voor teamcoaches
Meer informatie +

Kom kennismaken met ons!

Je wilt wellicht met ons samenwerken of je bij ons laten opleiden, maar nog even ‘gevoel’ krijgen bij wie wij zijn? Of je hebt gewoon een aantal vragen die je liever persoonlijk bespreekt?

Laten we (video)bellen!

We ontmoeten elkaar via telefoon, Teams of Zoom. Geheel vrijblijvend uiteraard. In principe neemt Martijn Vroemen contact met je op, maar je kunt ook kiezen voor andere Teamchangers.

Handleiding Zoom + mini-werkvormen

Stel je vraag!