Jennifer is a thought leader in the realm of group coaching and has been working with teams and groups since the late 1980s. Group coaching is a growing field, and as you read on, some of you may find you've been group coaching for a while without even realising it. Below Jennifer outlines some great examples of group coaching as well as group coaching benefits for organizations, individuals and you, the coach.
As an increasing number of coaches and organizations look to integrate group coaching it is important to explore the benefits for clients, organizations and coaches alike. This article examines several of the group coaching benefits I mention in Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010).
Examples of Group Coaching in the public arena:
- Business Coaching: A three-month group business coaching program is held by phone for service-based professionals. The focus of the program is on business visioning, goal setting, action and accountability.
- A Retreat: A retreat process held over the course of several weeks by phone, focusing on better work-life balance issues. While the program is marketed as a retreat, the program is grounded in a group coaching approach. It builds on the core coaching competencies, focusing on goal setting, action, awareness and accountability for the group members.
- Career Transition: A month long group coaching process is held in-person for people in career transition. The group meets in person weekly, exploring topics such as strengths, career inventories and vision.
Examples of Group Coaching in organizations:
- Women transitioning back to the work force after maternity leave participate in a group coaching process. Benefits include enhancing their internal networks, and strengthened communication across the organization.
- A global organization is building their own internal coaching culture, and key personnel from different offices are trained in coaching skills. Group coaching calls are held on a regular basis for six months after the initial training. They support group members to share their learning, take action on their learning plans, identify additional supports needed, and share best practices.
- A national insurance organization equips their national training team with skills in group coaching, to enhance their own skill base in order to more effectively support their learners and new recruits, for better transferability of the learning process.
Group Coaching Benefits for Clients
Group coaching clients have identified the following as some of the benefits of a group coaching process:
- Peer Learning process: For clients, group coaching can be appealing as it involves a peer learning process.
- Some coaching clients may prefer a collaborative group learning environment where they learn from the insights and contributions of peers, as they do from their own reflections.
- For clients who are more introverted, the peer learning process may feel "less on the spot" and provide more time for reflection and articulation of their insights.
- The "collective wisdom" created and explored is often identified as a key benefit.
- Lower Cost: The lower cost for a group coaching process may also be a contributing factor for coaching clients to say yes. Depending on how coaches position group coaching in their business mix, they may offer group coaching at a lower price point.
Group Coaching Benefits for Organizations
Many organizations across the public sector, private sector and non-profit world are now offering group coaching. Benefits of the group coaching process in organizations include:
- Scalability: In many organizations which have an established, or an evolving coaching culture, scalability is a key benefit to the group coaching approach. It can support the cascading involvement of professionals at lower levels of the organization. For example, organizations may look to create a group coaching process for new managers, or offer a group coaching program to sustain the conversation after a training initiative.
- Cross-functional fertilization and support for culture change: In today's business context of breaking down silos, a group coaching process often brings together individuals from different parts of an organization.
- The conversations which ensue often create a web of relationships across departments, leading to the opportunity for the fertilization of ideas and different perspectives across seemingly disparate groups.
- These new relationships across an organization often provide an important vehicle for culture change.
- Making it Stick: A decade ago, I was initially attracted to coaching as a leader myself, curious about how adding coaching to the retreat and training work I was doing with teams could support the transfer of learning. Today, many professionals are positioning group coaching as a follow-on to support learning initiatives, helping to make the learning stick.
- Lower Cost: The lower price per person can also be perceived as a benefit for organizations (public, private and non-profit) in seeking out group coaching programs for their staff.
Group Coaching Benefits for Coaches:
Group Coaching is not going to be a preference for all coaches. Some coaches may prefer the 'deep dive' we take with individual coaching clients. Others may enjoy the width and breadth a group coaching conversation leads the group in. The ability to create a safe environment where group members feel confident to engage in a coaching conversation, the ability to step back and let the group lead the process, can be a motivator for many group coaches.
- Leveraging time: Group Coaching can provide coaches with the opportunity to offer coaching services at a lower price point, while working with more clients.
- Scalability: With the leverage created by working with more people at one time, it may free up a coach to undertake additional activities within their business.
In summary: An important part of the coaching relationship involves finding out from those being coached what they see as the benefits.
Question for you: What do you see the benefits of group coaching for yourself, your clients and the organizations you work with?
Contributing Author: Jennifer Britton, MES, CPCC, PCC, BCC is the author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010). Her second book "From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching" will be released mid-July. Jenn supports coaches in designing their own group coaching programs through the CCE-approved Group Coaching Essentials and Advanced Group Coaching Practicum programs. For many more tips and ideas visit the Group Coaching Ins and Outs blog or learn about her books on her Potentials Realized website.
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