Reflections on the Question: “Is it Group or Team Coaching?”

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    I started my first coaching groups in 1983 and since then, have worked with 100s of groups and taught hundreds of others how do design and coach/facilitate the groups. I’ve also read much of the literature about group and team coaching. Here are some of my lessons learned — sometimes painfully.

    1. The most important initial consideration, by far, is not whether a program is for group coaching or team coaching. It is answering the question, “What ultimate outcome(s) should the program help the members to achieve?” The answer to that question will drive all aspects of a program.

    2. The conditions for the success of whatever you want to call it (team or group coaching) occur in the program design, well before the members even meet each other. Too often, the literature writes as if the members have already been selected and are coming together.

    3. There are at least 9 different formats of the group or team: where 1, some or all get coached, or where 1, some or all do the coaching. It is not always a professional coach doing the coaching 🙂 The format (the structure) is determined by the desired outcome.

    4. The vast majority of the considerations that the literature asserts are different between group and team coaching are actually much more in common between the two, for example: Is the program for solving problems for each person or for the entire group? Will members be from the same organization or different? Will the members’ supervisors support their involvement? Who will do the coaching and who will get coached? Will coaching be only questions or include advice, brainstorming and materials? How will trust be built between members? Will the program be integrated with other programs? How will the program be marketed? How will it be evaluated?

    5. Approaching a program initially with the question “Is it team or group coaching?” can too often impose a binary framework that can detract us from initially focusing on the ultimate outcome and it also can blind us from appreciating a variety of secondary outcomes.

    6. When designing a program in an organization, there usually is not nearly the freedom of design, agenda and flow of the process that the literature suggests. It’s far better to start out very specifically, and change it later on (if the client permits 🙂

    ? What have you learned about group or team coaching?

    Also see:

    Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, is a co-founder of Action Learning Source.