I am currently involved in a large consulting engagement that involves a significant level of coaching at senior levels. It also involves some local coach training, both individual and group.
I thought I would share some reflections on these types of coaching because away from the specific coaching techniques, ethics and confidentiality, there are some distinct differences, and pitfalls to avoid. Firstly, when a client asks you to get involved in group coaching, you need to lay down some ground rules. Group or team coaching is clearly different from individual coaching. It is obviously less personal, and less intense.
The purpose of team coaching has to be very clear from the start. Some see it as a more cost effective way to do coaching, but it must not just be seen this way. It’s core purpose should be a number of things. Firstly as a means of getting traction on common themes, or new initiatives. These could include a change of strategic direction or the implementation of new goals. This does not mean you can’t discuss different things with different people, but there should be some core aim the group should be working towards. As eluded to earlier in this post, the appropriate level of intensity is also important. It is important to be highly energetic to get the group going at the start, maybe with a few exercises to get the engagement. You will have to bring the whole group with you and “Work the Room” by making sure nobody is left out with the Q & A. At this stage it is critical to read the body language to ensure everyone is engaged, and you may have to work more intensively with some than others. However it is also important that you don’t push them beyond their “Learning Zones” into their “Fear Zones” . Never intentionally or unintentionally embarrass anyone in the group, as they are in front of their peers. This is particularly important in some of the more hierarchical cultures. Finally, always leave them some homework, written or verbal, to bring back for the next session. Remember to ask them to hold themselves accountable for the results, and that most of the real work is done during the reflection period before the next session. Group coaching can also bring synergies from group discussion and idea generation, which is another key factor.
As a coach remember the principle differences, between individual and group coaching. Always be outcome focused, and reflect on a statement from one of the great management gurus Steven Covey, “Begin with the end in mind”.