7 Things to Consider When You Set Goals with Groups & Teams | By Jennifer Britton

Goal setting is the heart of any coaching process. Whether I'm working with a team or supporting a group, there are several things to keep in mind when working with goals when coaching "many"  - a group or a team. This article explores seven considerations when working with goals in any group or team coaching process.

#1 - Be Clear On The Focus of The Goal

When coaching teams and groups around goals, one of the distinctions to make early on is "What is the focus of the goal?" Specifically, are you working on a series of individual goals or creating collective goals?

Coaching Teams with Goals

In most team coaching processes, the primary focus will be on supporting the team around collective goals which are being worked on by all members of the team. Each team member may have different input to these goals. And there may also be instances where it's important for an individual team worker to also identify individual goals. For example, when coaches are working with virtual and remote teams it is likely that conversations will revolve around having individual team members link their goals to the team level.

In this team coaching process where goals are likely to be collective, encouraging the team's ownership and tracking of them throughout standard team processes such as team meetings and huddles is an important way to boost the integration of the coaching process into the team's every day practices.

Group Coaching with Goals

In contrast, most group coaching clients will usually have discrete goals of their own, which they look at through a personal, individualized lens.

Consider the instance of a group of business owners who have come together to be coached on growing their businesses. Each one of them may be working on a different set of goals. One business member may want to increase their social media presence, while another may want to grow their team so they can fulfill their orders more effectively.

Supporting each group member to focus on taking action and developing awareness around their goal/s, while providing space for each group member to learn from others, are important pieces of this group coaching process.

In working with groups around goals, it's important to have group members complete and share their individual goals with the coach - and with each other. The "One-page Plan" is a simple, yet effective, format for group members to note and share their goals. Other ways you can facilitate peer sharing is through check-ins, peer partners and communication between sessions to foster more peer sharing around possibilities for the goals.

#2 - Connect Goals with the WHY

Goal-setting without connecting those goals to the bigger WHY, can lead to goal-setting being a "check box" activity. When we support clients to think about "What's important about the goal?" or "What's possible?" this provides a different horizon and connection for group individuals and teams to explore goals.

Questions we can use to support the connection of goals with the WHY are:

  • What is important about the goal?
  • Imagine you are successful with this, what is possible now?
  • What will goal achievement make possible?
  • What is the "why" you are working towards this goal?

Editors Note: You may also like this Free Tool: Understanding the WHY of Your Goals!

#3 - Set Stretch Goals

In goal-setting it's also important to make sure goals are stretch goals. Stretch goals are usually just at the edge or just outside our comfort zone. They pull us forward, enabling us to use our strengths and talents, challenging us just enough to get moving and likely taking more or different action than before.

With group and team coaching programs it's important to keep in mind that a stretch goal for one may not be a stretch goal for all. For example, one member of the business coaching group may find that making ten sales calls in a day would be a stretch whereas another might find that same stretch number to be double or triple it.

Helping group members identify what their stretch is, and encouraging group members not to compare themselves to others, is an important part of creating safety and trust within a group coaching process.

#4  - Chunk it Down

Sometimes goals are not achieved, or even moved towards, because they are so big. Rather than being empowering, "too large" goals become disempowering.

In my work as a coach we spend time as a group or team "chunking it down" - breaking goals down into smaller pieces, with milestones along the way. Then checking in around these mini-milestones can be learning moments and celebrations in and of themselves. It also helps clients see the evolution of their progress, and how their own goals may shift over time.

This is a helpful technique for both team goals and individual goals.

#5 - Build In Regular Accountability Checkpoints

Without accountability and check-ins, goals become a side-bar activity rather than a central part of the coaching process.

For many of us, coaching is the missing link between learning and action. Coaching is grounded in multiple touch-points, where we hold a focus on what's important for our clients.  Clients may want to create accountability in multiple ways - through their partnership with us, and also with their peers.

Questions we can use to create more accountability could be:

  • What accountability do you want around this goal?
  • Who do you want to be accountable to?

You want avoid making the entire group coaching time about "check-ins" of what people have done (which can easily happen in groups), so consider other confidential ways for group clients to share successes and updates with each other. This might entail:

  • A "Secret" Facebook group (not "Closed" which is searchable).
  • Establishing an LMS (Learning Management System) or portal like Teachable where all materials, including a chat function is securely located.
  • Creating a goal dashboard where people can insert movement towards their goals, or encouraging email updates with the coach and group members.

Encouraging group members to share their updates, challenges and successes outside of the coaching time with you ensures there is plenty of time left in the coaching conversation (virtual or in person).

#6 - Build in Scheduled Time To Take Action

In today's busy world, we may not build in sufficient time to take regular and consistent action on the goals we have set for ourselves. So it can be useful to explore with clients WHEN they have scheduled time for taking action, or building "Get It Done" time into some of our coaching processes.

I know in my work that my Virtual Retreats and "Get It Done" Days are popular for this reason.

Questions we can use to build in scheduled time to take action could be:

  • When do you want to take regular, and consistent, action on this goal?
  • When have you scheduled in time to take action around your goals?
  • What will help remind you of this, and WHY, you are doing it?

#7 - What's The Structure That Will Help The Goals Remain Visible?

Keeping goals visible is also important for goal success with groups or teams. It can be useful to explore the best structure for your team and group clients to keep their goals visible or top of mind early in the coaching process.

Whether it's a MindMap, a series of photos which represent the goal, notes on a whiteboard or a daily checklist in a planner, keeping goals visible throughout the year is another critical element for goal success.

Other ideas include a visual one-page plan they can refer to on their desk, an auditory reminder on their phone (ie. an alarm to signal a moment to check in around how their progress is coming) or a physical roadmap to remind them of their journey.

It's likely that different group and team members will have different preferences for keeping their goals visible, and will also be inspired by hearing their peer's ideas.


As you consider your upcoming work with groups and teams how might you further expand your work with clients around goals? What tips and ideas in this article resonate with you?

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Jennifer Britton

Contributing Author:

Jennifer Britton, MES, CHRP, CPT, PCC, is the author of seven books and has influenced a generation of coaches in the realms of team and group coaching. You may have read her writing, including Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010), the first book in the world to be published on the topic of group coaching; From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching; or her latest, Reconnecting Workspaces: Pathways to Thrive in the Virtual, Remote and Hybrid World (2021).

Since 2006, Jennifer's Group Coaching Essentials and Advanced Group and Team Coaching Practicum programs have become known as the must-do training in the area of group coaching. Focused on providing coaches with best practices in designing, marketing and implementing group coaching, these programs have helped thousands of coaches launch their own group and team coaching programs in a wide variety of settings (public, corporate, non-profit). Together both courses are approved for 18.75 ICF CCEUs. These are the first two of 10 course pathways leading to certificates in Group and Team Coaching.

Potentials Realized's ICF-CCE programs are geared for aspiring group and team coaches, especially those wanting to work toward the New Advanced Credential in Team Coaching (ACTC) with the ICF.

Also check out our neuroscience course for group and team coaches (NLE-A), Team Coaching Essentials  and ACTIVATE Your Team and Group Coaching Superpowers. Prefer podcasts? Listen in to the Remote Pathways podcast, which explores the many different pathways to remote work, business and leadership.

Learn more about Jennifer & see all their articles here >>

Image of Team sat at table holding sign by Andrey Popov via Shutterstock

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