It’s hard to get any group to agree on a decision.
Some teams struggle to align on where to go for lunch, let alone on career goals. This makes creating a group coaching model tricky. Coaches usually tailor programs to individuals’ needs, but in a group, everyone has their own preferences, accountability needs, and strengths.
Luckily, group coaches are experts at working with several people to identify common goals and implement coaching strategies to help them — there are even templates for success. Read on to learn how to coach groups, and take advantage of team coaching resources created by our experts. We’ll include a link to a group coaching template that can get you off to a strong start.
What is group coaching?
In group coaching, the idea isn’t to tailor the program to each participant as in one-on-one coaching. Instead, multiple participants come together to follow the same program. And these participants don’t work as a team to reach shared goals — they all engage with the program individually to strengthen their skills and performance.
Through group coaching, coaches can focus on creating a program to improve skills everyone would benefit from — whether that’s team-based skills like collaboration and communication or individual skills like time and stress management. Any team benefits from having its members grow as individuals.
Group coaching is an excellent option for coaches working at a company with too many people for individual coaching sessions. Group coaching can also benefit people looking to grow similar skills, even if they aren’t part of the same community or workplace.
Structuring a successful group coaching program
We’re happy to take some of the legwork out of this stage by offering you a template to structure group coaching programs. That means you can focus on what you do best: implementing successful coaching programs.
- Focus on philosophy: Decide which principles will govern your group coaching program for both you and your client. This will help you set expectations for what everyone can hope to learn or experience during the course. Companies usually hire group coaches with an outcome in mind, so make that central to your plan.
- Keep the client in mind: You can only make a solid coaching program if you understand what the group you’re working with needs. Look at what they hope to achieve and take into account any external factors that could shape your program, like time or location restraints or employees working across time zones.
- Consider the program itself: Once you know the “why” and the “who” behind your program, it’s time to focus on the “what” and the “how.” Decide on the program content and trajectory, the skills clients need to learn, and the program’s order. Create a program outline that includes both short- and long-term milestones and what will happen in single sessions.
Don't go it alone when you start structuring your program. We’re happy to provide you with coaching tools that help set you up for success. Use our group coaching session template to hit the ground running.
Planning your group coaching sessions
Once you’ve established a high-level approach to your group coaching program, you can start considering the structure of individual sessions. Here are five steps to include in a well-planned session.
- Build a relationship: Have group members introduce themselves at the beginning of the program and continue to build rapport by sharing a quick greeting or anecdote at the beginning of each session. Finding opportunities for them to collaborate and to have one-on-one time with you will help them feel supported and connected throughout the process.
- Have an accountability routine (optional): Head up a session by asking each group member to share their progress, or a softer approach would be asking them to share a general “win” with the group.
- Set the topic: Set the tone by introducing what you’ll cover in this session and how it connects to the overall program plan.
- Q&A: Have everyone discuss the topic, sharing advice, questions, and thoughts. This is a great chance to let group members chat amongst themselves to consider fresh perspectives on the topic.
- Set goals and commitments: Have the group talk about what they learned in this session and what they would like to achieve by the next session. They might find ways to implement that day’s lesson to accomplish their next goal.
Before the session begins
Set yourself up for success by taking these steps to structure the work ahead.
- Consider how many people are in the group and how much time and space you’ll need to accommodate the session.
- Prepare any materials you’ll need for group coaching exercises beforehand. Be sure to have any print-outs like worksheets ready or give group members access to the digital tools they’ll need.
- Know what your goals are for each session.
- Ensure that everyone feels safe in the space by expressing to the group that this is a confidential session in which people can freely share.
Group coaching session best practices
Going in with a solid plan and all the necessary tools, techniques, and materials is the foundation — but following these best practices below will help you ensure a successful session from start to finish.
- Give introverts a chance to speak up: Some people love to chat, while others fade into the background. Guide the conversation in such a way that you invite the more introverted people in the group to contribute their thoughts. You can use “talking sticks” or go around the room in a circle or alphabetically to ensure everyone has a chance to speak.
- Use the buddy system: We’re all better off when we feel supported, so implement the buddy system in your sessions by breaking the group into pairs. The buddies will help keep their partners motivated and accountable, and help the shy participants speak in a more comfortable setting.
- Ask questions: As a coach, you’re there to teach, but you’re also there to learn. Make sure you understand what members of the groups feel by asking questions about coaching methods and techniques before it’s too late to change course. Remember to work on your active listening skills, using plenty of eye contact and inviting gestures to encourage honest answers.
Supercharge your coaching business today
If you’re about to implement a group coaching program for the first time and need some support, we understand. Trying something new is always scary. Let Practice offer you extra support with our coaching program templates and CRM software that will take the guesswork out of organizing your business. Get started today.