What is group coaching?

happy-women-in-a-groupMany have heard of coaching… the concept of working with a professional that helps you achieve your full potential. It’s often conducted in a one-on-one setting. If that’s the case, what is group coaching? What are the benefits up group coaching compared to individual coaching? The list of questions can go on and on. Well, here’s the thing. Depending on your needs and learning strengths, you may find that group coaching is a practical solution to finding strategies to take you to the next level in a very similar way as individual coach… with some unique differences.

Coaching in a Group Setting

Group coaching refers to sessions of three or more individuals in a peer learning environment. Sessions can be conducted in a variety of venues, including face-to-face, teleconference, and/or video chat. Depending on the topic and format, group coaching can be presented in a solitary session or a series of sessions. All in all, group coaching offers quite a bit of flexibility.
Group coaching can provide a wonderful opportunity, not just for clients, but also for coaches. However, it can present challenges. Being able to successful manage a group of participants, while nurturing a conducive environment for coaching is key to creating a beneficial experience.

group-of-women-collaboratingGroup coaching offers some key differences compared to individual coaching. Individual coaching, and even couples coaching, provides opportunities to tailor each session to the current needs of the clients. Group coaching, on the other hand, tends to more structured, with participants receiving coaching on predetermined and focused topics.

Group Dynamics

Since group coaching happens in a peer learning environment, it creates an opportunity for participants to benefit from the ideas, insights, feedback and experiences of other attendees. This method of coaching also presents networking and team building opportunities for attendees. The connections started in group coaching environments have the potential to lead to partnerships and other long-term relationships.In individual coaching sessions, clients rely on their own reasoning, knowledge and resources at hand. Though the idea is for the coach to help clients develop a self-awareness that allows them to make decisions and walk a path that is consistent with their values, it can leave the client in a sort of temporary island. This virtual island can be helpful in delving deep into a client’s values, motivators, and thinking patterns. However, it misses valuable elements that can only be gleaned by tapping into the minds of others. Group coaching helps fill those gaps. It creates an opportunity to build upon the participants self-awareness by allowing other attendees to share alternatives one may not have had the knowledge, experience or insight to generate
by oneself.

The Right Fit

mixed-group-consultingOne of the reasons I offer a REVEAL Discovery Session, is because I know coaching isn’t for everyone. Likewise, even if coaching is beneficial for the client, the client and I might not mesh well together. The same thing goes for group coaching. Group coaching is not for everyone. Even those clients who are ideal for coaching, may struggle in a group environment. With that in mind, some characteristics of clients who may flourish in the group coaching setting include:

  • Individuals who know what is holding them back from moving forward and want solutions.
  • Individuals who are committed to reaching positive outcomes but prefer multiple viewpoints.
  • Individuals who learn better in the group setting versus the one-on-one setting.
  • Individuals seeking a more educational approach.
  • Individuals who prefer the slow and steady pace versus fast results.
  • Individuals who are great at setting goals and holding themselves accountable, but sometimes like to share their direction and progress.

Client Skills: Providing an exploration or discovery session prior to accepting a client into a group coaching program can be helpful in determine the right fit. It is the ethical duty of coaches to consider the needs and interest of the client. As such, it is important to be mindful that group coaching may not serve the client. If group coaching is not the right fit, the client may be better served by other options, such as individual coaching or even referrals to other resources.

Pros and Cons of Group Coaching

woman-listening-intentlyGroup coaching can create valuable experiences for participants, which may not be available in one-on-one sessions. Since the topics are often predetermined in group coaching sessions and the participants vetted, participants may find themselves in an environment with individuals facing similar situations. Participants will be able to learn from the experiences and insights of other participants. For challenging problems, they’ll be able to collaborate and develop solutions in a team environment. Group discussions may help participants spark ideas and find their own creative solutions for their issues. It goes along the lines of the Japanese proverb “If three people gather, they have the wisdom of Manjusri.” That is to say, working together as a group creates an atmosphere of insightfulness.

Group coaching also provides an environment that fosters relationships. As mentioned above, it creates networking opportunities and may even lead to clients gaining resources partners within the group. As participants overcome barriers, they also have a group of peers ready to celebrate the successes and achievements. These same peers can offer encouragement, and even accountability.

Group coaching may also be a more affordable options for clients who’d like the benefit of coaching but are hesitant to invest in the more expensive individual coaching model. In a way, group coaching provides an opportunity to “try before you buy,” letting clients evaluate a coach’s style before investing in a costlier one-on-one approach.

It’s very important to consider if the group model is a good fit. As group coaching isn’t for everyone and does have its drawbacks. For example, topics are often predetermined in group coaching. An individual who is unsure of their problem area or does not need to address the designated issues  will likely not see the benefit benefit of the group coaching program.

wavy-haired-woman-listeningAlso keep in mind that in order to provide quality experience to everyone in the group, coaches have fewer opportunities to provide individualized attention to clients. For an individual who needs the one-on-one touch and/or more accountability, the group coaching model can prove to be a disadvantage.

Final Thoughts

Group coaching can provide a valuable experience for individuals seeking coaching. However, it’s important to keep in mind that group coaching has an appropriate place and is not a one-size fits all model.

My commitment to you is to do my best to recommend the services which best meet your needs, and if necessary, decline if we’re not a good fit.

Group Coaching Survey

I’m gearing up for my next Group Coaching Program. As part of my market research, I want to be sure I’m offering what you need. If you’re interested in working with me on a group coaching level, now is your time to voice your opinion.

Please take the time to complete my group coaching survey, so I can work on your next coaching program.


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