In Part 1, we described group coaching, starting with a description of coaching and then group coaching. We also listed many powerful applications of group coaching.
Basic Considerations in Designing Group Coaching
It is very important to customize the design of group coaching to the specific way that you want to use it. There are many considerations to be made during the design. For example:
- What is the primary purpose of the groups?
- Who will be in the groups?
- Will they be from the same organization or different?
- Will each work on the same topic or each work on a different one?
- How will they be trained?
- What resources will they need?
- How will they be facilitated?
- How will they be evaluated during and after the groups?
- How many meetings will there be and for how long?
- How will they communicate?
- Who will primarily be responsible for the groups?
- Is there a special coaching model that should be used?
- Will the model need to be acculturated somehow?
- Will they be integrated with other development methods?
Basic Guidelines for Some Common Applications of Group Coaching
To Spread Low-Cost, Core Coaching Skills
The organization should clearly specify the benefits of the groups for the organization and for each of its employees. Specific people should be assigned responsibility for the groups. Plans should be made for quickly starting and spreading the groups across the organization, for example, to have each group member go on to facilitate a new group (sometimes referred to as cascading groups). It will be less expensive if groups can be self-facilitated, so they might need to be trained for that. The supervisors of each of the group members will need to support their employees in the groups. Practical methods will need to be developed to evaluate the groups during and after their sequence of meetings.
To Ensure That Students Apply Content from Training
The members of the group should be from the same training program, and the scheduling of the groups will need to match the scheduling of the training. The trainers will need to know about the groups and the role of the groups in the program. The group’s coaching process will need to be designed around applying the content of the training. Members will need to reference straightforward materials from the training. Evaluations of the groups and training should be complementary and not overwhelming.
To Develop and Strengthen a Team
The team will need a clear purpose or charter from the organization. The supervisors of the group members will need to support the members’ time in meetings. The team will need clear procedures for membership, making decisions, and generating recommendations. They might need a budget and timeline for their work, as well. If all members are from the same organization, then ground rules and facilitation will need to minimize any inhibitions from members working for the same supervisor.
To Cultivate Deep Networks
The members of the group should feel a strong bond with each other but have complementary resources and skills. For example, they each might be from a different business unit or organization. Still, they should feel that they have a lot in common and could benefit from each other. The group process should include each member clarifying what he or she needs and should ensure that his or her needs are always met in their meetings. Otherwise, the member will not continue to attend the meetings.
For more information, see All About Coaching.
Carter McNamara, MBA, Ph.D., is a faculty member of ActionLearningSource, which specializes in customizing high-quality Action Learning and group coaching programs for a wide variety of outcomes and applications. The firm also conducts a variety of low-cost, virtual training about Action Learning and group coaching.