Add Group and Team Coaching To Expand Your Practice! | By Jennifer Britton

Group and Team Coaching shown by woman in front of table of people doing an exerciseGroup and Team Coaching are two related sub-disciplines of the coaching profession. These modalities offer coaches an opportunity to expand their services and support to a wider cross-section of individuals. This article explores several ways coaches may wish to consider adding group and team coaching to their mix.

Many coaches today create their own group coaching programs for the public. When I started offering group coaching more than a decade ago, one of my first series of programs was the "Your Balanced Life"™ series. As a former global leader I was passionate at that time about work-life balance issues. What originally started as a teleclass, quickly morphed into a group coaching process at the request of my clients. They loved the tools we were exploring around time management, but really wanted to explore the deeper foundational issues such as their vision, what balance meant for them and what it could look like in their life and work. Over time, in response to requests the 90 day group coaching program further morphed into in-person and virtual retreat options. As my own passion for working around this area waned, this then became a program I license for others.

So, what's the difference between Group and Team Coaching?

A simplified explanation is that Team Coaching helps a group of people (the team) achieve the team's goals in a group setting, whereas Group Coaching helps individuals achieve their individual goals within a group setting. However, there is a little more to it.

In Team Coaching: The coach may work with an operational or project team. The team has a common purpose, and both formal and informal leadership. The team's membership, work and relationships exist outside the group coaching process. Depending on the team's requirements, the team's focus will be working to strengthen the team as a system, but may also build individual capabilities (in order to strengthen the team). Another factor in team coaching is that team members could be spread across more than one location.

In Group Coaching: groups of people come together with a shared focus, but they may be from different backgrounds, companies or communities. The group's membership is usually formed by, and lasts as long as, the group coaching process. The focus is usually on individual development within the context of the group.

About Group Coaching

Group coaching today is taking a variety of forms in organizations as well as in the public realm. From corporate group coaching programs for new leaders stepping into their roles to groups supporting the exploration of work-life balance issues, group coaching is now rooted in many organizations. Examples of public group coaching programs include groups for parents, business owners who want to grow their business, or those in career transition.

Group Coaching in the Public Realm

As coaches you may be involved in developing and leading pure group coaching programs, or incorporating your group coaching skills into workshops and retreats. Key to a group coaching approach is leading from the core competencies of working with group members around goal setting and creating awareness around the issues they are facing. The group coaching process also requires taking action towards those goals and providing ongoing touch points for accountability, reflection and insights.

Questions for you to consider: What are your passions and how might these meet the needs of your clients? What public group coaching programs could you bring to your work?

Group Coaching in Organizations

Group coaching is taking root in organizations of all sizes and industries. Often offered as a follow-on process to existing training programs, the group coaching conversation may support the integration of these new skills with a pause to deepen awareness around issues identified during training.

Some organizations today are seeing group coaching conversations as an opportunity to bring together people from across the organization who share a similar focus. Facilitated by a group coach, these coaching conversations will be shaped by the people involved and usually involve significant peer coaching (where the participants coach each other as part of the group coaching process). Group coaching examples include group coaching for new supervisors, or to support those returning back to the workplace post-maternity leave. In many instances group coaching involves a wider cross-section of individuals from across the organization, and in the long term this builds significant bonds that can cut across organizational and departmental "silos".

Questions for you to consider: If you are a coach working in organizations, what group coaching opportunities can you think of for your corporate clients? What problems could group coaching help bridge? What groups of people can you think of who would benefit from a group coaching program?

About Team Coaching

For those who enjoy working within the organizational context, team coaching may be another area of possible expansion in your business. Team coaching can also be a natural extension of coaching work you undertake with a leader.

There are several natural entry points where a team may benefit from coaching support. For example, when new leaders come on board they may proactively want support in developing team agreements, action planning and working with the team to develop a vision or explore values. Sometimes experienced team leaders are tasked with bringing two cultures together and team coaching can be an important vehicle to help identify, explore and bridge cultures. Another example where team coaching is helpful is when a team suffers from not having shared practices or low accountability in getting things done. The ongoing conversations of a team coaching experience can be a catalyst in creating new habits and team processes. Virtual teams are another area to consider as they have inherent communication challenges.

Historically team coaching engagements have kicked off with one or two days of intensive work which may be followed up with bi-weekly or monthly touch points, focused on themes such as strengths, vision, values, roles, and perspectives. Assessments such as the Team Diagnostic from Team Coaching International often help a team to pinpoint the major areas requiring attention, for example trust issues, working across differences, clarifying goals, or creating a vision.

Questions for you to consider: What types of teams could you support? Virtual teams? Project teams? Teams with new leaders? Dysfunctional Teams? What type of offerings would work well in the work you are looking to create? What problems could a team coaching offering help bridge? What groups of people can you think of who would benefit from a team coaching program?

Remember that Individual and Group or Team Coaching can go hand-in-hand. You may find that group coaching leads to the natural progression of group members wanting to take a deeper dive into the individual coaching conversation. At the same time, individual coaching clients may want to move into the terrain of a group coaching process, enjoying the different feel of the wider dive, rich with peer-sharing and the experience of others.

Final Thoughts...

As the prevalence and popularity of team and group coaching approaches grow, it will be important to capture success stories, as well as client insights about how this work differs from training, facilitation and other Organization Development (OD) initiatives.

Inherent in the process of coaching is our focus on goal setting, ongoing accountability as well as awareness and action. Coaching's philosophical orientation towards strengths, neutrality and having the client shape the work, also helps define some of the nuances of coaching, as opposed to other forms of OD work. Ultimately being able to co-create the best solution for our clients is critical - and this may sometimes involve a blending of approaches.

Final questions for you to consider: In closing, as you consider your business, what could the best blend of individual, group and team coaching be? What would an ideal month's work look like for you? What opportunities can you see to add group or team coaching to the mix?

JenniferBritton-214x300Contributing Author: Jennifer Britton, MES, CPCC, PCC is the author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013). A thought leader in the realm of group coaching she has been working with teams and groups since the late 1980s. An advocate of helping teams excel, and businesses and organizations flourish, Jenn supports coaches in growing their skills and designing their own group coaching programs through the CCE-approved Group Coaching Essentials and Advanced Group Coaching Practicum programs. For many more tips, audios and ideas visit the Group Coaching Ins and Outs blog and GroupCoachingEssentials.com.

If you liked this article about Group and Team Coaching, you may also like:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.