Hot Tips for Group Coaching

Group coaching seems “en vogue” — it seems that every year, we have a new kid on the block: Working out Loud, Mastermind Groups, Action Learning, Reflecting Teams, Thinking Circles etc. These are all wonderful models who are all very similar and have a lot of overlap between them. You can do 2 things now: book a two day workshop on each of them and pay megabucks, or continue reading for our “hot tips” to designing your very own group coaching model.

Actually, I probably design my own group coaching model for each and every group coaching job I take, and I even modify the model in partnership with the group as we are working together.

Step 1:

Define the outcome this group is looking for?

  • share best practices
  • get regular help from people in a similar situation
  • think things through
  • move forward and have accountability partners
  • reflect on cases / critical instances in their work
  • increase the overall performance of the group
  • learn coaching skills by participating in the group

Step 2:

Define basic parameters:

  • length, duration and frequency of the group coaching (e.g. every 4 weeks for 3 hours for 6 months) and number of participants
  • facilitator engagement: with or without facilitator / start with facilitator and move to self-organization
  • input of other participants / questions of other participants or mix thereof
  • accountability and tracking progress
  • documentation

Step 3:

Design a process that will work (ok, easier said then done) and refine as you are going along.

Options for the process are:

  • Check-in on progress in plenary
  • Deciding on the topics / issues that are going to be discussed
  • Presentation of the issue by the “case donor” with or without facilitator
  • Goal setting or identification of the question of the “case donor” with or without facilitator
  • Clarification questions by the group with or without help by the facilitator
  • Coaching of the “case donor” by the group or by the facilitator as the group watches
  • Group gives a round of appreciation to the “case donor” (what impresses me….)
  • Idea collection or brainstorming by the group (verbally or written)
  • “Case donor” defines next steps / experiments / what they would like to be held accountable for next time
  • Check-out: each person expresses what they learned and what they would like to experiment with
  • Documentation: each person documents themselves or they keep a file of their progress somewhere
  • At any point in the process, the “case donor” can be asked to turn their back to the group as to not react or switch off their video (in zoom)

Here is an example — I will walk you through the steps.

Step 1: What is the group about?

A group of 6 emerging leaders has formed with the goal of learning to lead their first team. They would like to support each other and also practice their coaching skills while doing so.

Step 2: What are the options?

Length and duration: The first 100 days as a new leader are most important — so let’s give this group a duration of 6 months. They need time to practice and gain experiences between sessions and are busy people — ok, so meeting every 4 weeks sounds good. They are 6 people, everybody probably has questions to discuss, so 6 times 40 minutes or so, let’s make that a half day / 4 hour meetings. If that turns out too much or too little, we can adapt.

Facilitator engagement: Since the emerging leaders do not have a lot of experience facilitation, it is probably best if a facilitator is present for the first couple of meetings until they have gotten the hang of it.

The participants want to learn coaching skills and they want help with their first leadership assignment and the unfamiliar territory they are experiencing. So probably it is a good idea to include some coaching of the “case donor” by the group facilitated and helped by the facilitator.

As they are in a development process together, they will want to have some kind of record of the sessions that they can access afterwards: so a joint folder or a “leadership wiki” that they co-create is probably great. Also it looks like they might benefit from some tracking and joint accountability to make the most out of this process.

Step 3: Design the process

For this group of emerging leaders we will find a nice snappy name, e.g. “Leader’s Bootcamp” (or whatever fits their culture)

Here we go:

1) Welcome

2) Check-In and progress made: every leader speaks shortly about what they have learned between sessions and the “case donors” of last session report on what they experimented with.

3) Deciding on the topics / issues that are going to be discussed: Every leader who has a topic presents their issue and the others vote on which issues (maybe 3-4 per session) will be discussed. One of the people whose case is not being discussed will be the record keeper.

4) Presentation of the issue by the “case donor”, the facilitator helps the leader to come up with a good questions and a great coaching goal (thereby demonstrating coaching skills).

5) Clarification questions by the group with help by the facilitator (initially as they might not have a lot of experience with what is a clarification question and what is advice — e.g. “have you tried….” is not a clarification question).

6) Coaching of the “case donor” by the group with the facilitator helping the group come up with even better coaching questions (e.g. Group member: “Have you tried…” Facilitator: “How could you rephrase that into a more open question?” Group member: “What have you already tried?”

7) Group gives a round of appreciation to the “case donor”. This would be good to create trust and safety.

8) “Case donor” defines next steps / experiments / what they would like to be held accountable for next time (I would not ask the group to brainstorm as the first thing people need to do to learn how to coach is tame the advice-monster).

9) Repeat with the other topics.

10) Check-out: each person expresses what they learned and what they would like to experiment with.

11) The record keeper updates the progress log or wiki.

As you see — not rocket science. Mix and match.

If you want to experiment with stuff like this, come to one of our free coaching meetups and exchange:

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