6 Key Team & Group Coaching Approaches to Create Connection and Engagement | By Jennifer Britton

Group Coaching Approaches - shown by football team linking handsOne of the biggest questions I hear from coaches is "What does group and team coaching look like?" Depending on the type of coaching process you are going to undertake - in person or by phone, there are a number of approaches you may use. But what is key to any group and team coaching process is creating connection and fostering engagement amongst the group.  

If connection does not exist amongst group or team members, and participants are not shaping and engaging fully in the conversation, it is likely they are not having a coaching conversation. Trust and connection are foundational to the coaching process.

So, as coaches, what can we do to foster engagement in a group or team coaching process?

There are several approaches you may wish to incorporate into your work. The approaches you use are likely to be influenced by the preferences of the groups or teams you work with, your own coaching style, along with additional factors such as what expectations you have set with group members and the coaching agreement or alliance you have designed.

This article is adapted from Chapter 8 in my book, From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching, and expands on six different approaches you may use in a group or team coaching coaching context including:

1) Group Discussion and Peer Coaching.

Remember that group discussion can be varied throughout the coaching process. A mix of large group, small group and paired discussion can be useful in both contexts (in-person and virtual).

Many coaches also may introduce peer coaching as a component of their work, particularly in group coaching, and sometimes with larger teams or departments. Peer coaching can involve Peer to Peer Sharing, Conversation, Accountability and Questioning. Peer coaching opportunities can be included throughout the coaching process - during group discussions and between group sessions. You will also  want to refer to Learning Partners (below).

2) Laser Coaching

Laser Coaching typically involves short bursts of 1-1 coaching during a session. This may include 7-10 minute  individual coaching of group members during the session on a topic of their choice or one related to the group topic.

Laser coaching can be integrated into your work with small groups, large groups, virtual as well as in person programs. Coaches will want to make sure everyone who wants to can get a chance to be laser coached. While you are laser coaching, ask the rest of the group to listen deeply to the questions you are asking and how this impacts them.

3) Field Work - also known as Assignments, Homework, Pre Work or Post Work

Field work could include a request, inquiry OR a list of websites or reading lists for group members to refer to. It could also include an assessment or other activities (such as a values checklist) to complete before the start of the program.

Field work is an important component throughout the coaching process in support of action, awareness, deepening insights. Field work can be designed to support your group or team members in taking action and/or developing awareness around issues you are coaching on. For example, field work for a team having challenges in difficult conversations may involve having them individually complete a conflict self-assessment in order to gain further awareness around their conflict style.

Field work can also be designed to sustain the conversation and learning in between sessions. You may have group members pair up and meet in between your sessions.

Coaches who facilitate virtual group and team coaching programs may find that field work is essential in leveraging the time you have together, enabling you to use the call time to discuss insights gleaned during field work amongst group members. One of the most valuable components of any group or team coaching process is the peer sharing that occurs. Strategically think about what will set the group up best for the dialogue.

Finally, field work provides an opportunity for those that value more time for reflection and preparation. This could include an assessment or other work.

4) Individual Reflection

Individual reflection may involve the provision of questions to reflect and write upon, structured journaling, or work which can be completed in the moment provide pause points for individuals during the coaching process. Individual reflection opportunities are effective in-person, online, during a session, or between sessions

The integration of individual reflection activities are very useful when group/team members are not necessarily verbal processors or are more introverted. Individual reflection provides group members with opportunities for capturing their thoughts. It can be very useful as well when groups are diverse.

5) Learning Partners/Buddies

In the spirit of sustaining the conversation, learning partners or buddies may be assigned or created at the start of the coaching process to meet in between the coaching touch-points. There are several benefits to learning partners including promoting Connection, Trust and Intimacy within group, as well as deepening conversation around key topics in between sessions. If coaching conversations/sessions are spread out because of availability or budget constraints, learning partners can play a significant role in sustaining and deepening learning and action over time. If learning partners are included in organizational programming, these new relationships can lead to enhanced capacity development.

Coaches may suggest possible focus areas for learning partners to explore together, or they may work with the learning partners to identify their own focus areas. Coaches should check in with the buddies to see what insights and/or best practices they would like to share with the rest of the group.

6) A Hybrid Approach

Hybrid approaches or a  mix of 1-1 and Group Coaching Conversations can be very useful in a group coaching context. Participants get the breadth of the group coaching conversation, as well as the depth of the individual conversation. This hybrid approach allows for focus on core foundations and common interest areas of the group. It allow allows each individual client an opportunity to explore their own interest areas in a more focused way.

Coaches should take some caution in integrating a hybrid approach if they are undertaking team coaching work, especially if you are coaching the entire team system. It may be better to bring in an additional coach to undertake that individual coaching work.

How might a hybrid structure support groups that you are working with?

Key Questions for you to consider with your Team and Group Coaching Work:

  • What are the preferences of the group members you work with (reflection, conversation, movement, writing)?
  • What approaches do you wish to incorporate into an upcoming program?
  • What value will it add?
  • How will it support trust, connection and engagement in the group?
  • My next steps are …...............

Added by Emma: For additional tips and exploration of these different approaches, plus other approaches such as journaling and body-centered coaching (also known as 'using geography' in some coaching models) read Chapter 8 of Jennifer's latest book,  "From One to Many: Best Practices of Team and Group Coaching".

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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 >>

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