Blog » Coaching Models and Techniques » Group Coaching: The Definitive Guide
The Ultimate Guide
This is the ultimate guide to Group Coaching.
In this guide, I will equip you with all the information you need to incorporate this discipline effectively in your overall coaching practice.
So, if you want to:
- Decode the basics of Group Coaching
- Understand when, where, and how to implement it
- Identify its uses and applications
- Learn how to build your own Group Coaching program
- And recognize its advantages and limitations
You’ll love reading this comprehensive guide.
Let’s dive in.
Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?
To start with, this chapter will cover the foundation elements of Group Coaching.
These elementary basics will prove to be important in your understanding of the concept as we proceed further.
These include the definition of group coaching, and how it differs from other popular coaching methods.
What is group coaching?
Group Coaching, which can also be known as ‘Peer Group Coaching,’ is a type of coaching practice that encourages dialogue, discovery, and action within a given group.
It is used to promote conversation and a learning space between the members of the group, while you — the coach — oversee and mediate the interactions.
The aim of Group Coaching is to break down every member’s walls, in order to facilitate a space where knowledge and learning can be shared.
How is it different from individual coaching?
In individual coaching, you would assume a primary role.
You would provide immediate learning to the client as a result of your direct relationship with them.
In Group Coaching, however, you have to assume a more secondary role, so that the group members can interact without being micromanaged.
As a coach, your job in Group Coaching is to facilitate an exploratory space where the members can open up and learn, grow, and evolve together.
This is done by hosting structured workshops and activities, which help in bettering the relationships between different people in the group.
How is it different from team coaching?
In team coaching, you would typically deal with a group of team members, who work together in an organization of some sort.
In Group Coaching, on the other hand, members don’t necessarily have to be working together on a daily basis.
The key difference between team coaching and Group Coaching is that in the former, everyone is working to achieve the same goal. For example, the goal of a professional dance troupe might be to win an upcoming competition.
In Group Coaching, members may not have the same exact goals, but might have a common overarching goal.
Each member will bring their own issues, goals, and experiences to the table.
For example, in a study group, while every student would want to score well in their exams, they may also have individual goals such as getting into the college of their choice, winning a specific scholarship, etc.
The Usefulness of the Group Coaching Model
Group coaching has been hailed as an effective and useful model for coaches, as well as the targeted group.
In this chapter, I will highlight its uses and applications that make it the top choice for coaches worldwide.
What Group Coaching Helps With
Group Coaching has a range of effective uses and applications, which I will dissect in this section.
Below are a few purposes for which you can use this model:
- Solving Problems
When group members get together to solve a problem that concerns all of them, it works infinitely better than when an individual tries to solve it on their own.
A research study done on undergraduates shows that students who solve problems in a group do better than those who try to do it on their own.
- Initiating Change
Change can be brought about much faster and easier when it is led by a powerful, cohesive group than when it is initiated by individuals.
- Increasing Engagement
This model allows you to increase your clients’ engagement with others within the group.
- Building Joint Responsibility
You can use Group Coaching to create shared responsibility between members, thereby encouraging an environment built on mutual support and trust.
- Conflict Resolution
It allows you to bring members of a group together physically and emotionally, so that they can understand where the other person is coming from.
In a study done by Journal of Applied Psychology on the The Critical Role of Conflict Resolution in Teams, it was found that successful teams anticipate the need for conflict resolution as well as develop strategies to get better at it.
- Steady Improvement
When everyone in the group has aligned their interests and goals and is working together to achieve them, it increases overall improvement over time.
Where to Use Group Coaching
Group Coaching can be used in a variety of settings, which makes it a more viable option than team or individual coaching.
Below are a few places in which you can employ it to solve problems, resolve conflicts, and optimize performance:
Corporate organizations require people to work together for a smooth and friction-free journey.
Often, members of a team either don’t get along or don’t know how to function without stepping on each other’s toes.
In such a scenario, Group Coaching can be utilized to enhance communication and establish an effortless working relationship.
In a study done on 45 newly-graduated doctors that involved 6 different types of courses, it was found that organizational understanding improved when they were subjected to group coaching.
2. Academic Circles
Both students and teachers can benefit from the pros of Group Coaching.
This model is fairly popular in schools, colleges, and universities for imparting essential skills of working together in a group
3. Peer Groups
Peer groups such as sports teams, recreational clubs in workspaces, schools and colleges, members of religious groups, etc. can also be potential subjects of a Group Coaching session.
This is because each of them has their unique set of experiences, goals, issues, and conflicts.
The Blueprint of the Group Coaching Model
In this chapter, I will take you through the structure of Group Coaching, including its basic formats, characteristics, and many different elements.
This blueprint will strengthen your understanding of this coaching model and help you distinguish it from others.
Key Characteristics of Group Coaching
Group Coaching has five key characteristics that help optimize the learning process.
These traits bring the entire group together, help them communicate with each other, and grow at a steady pace.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these five characteristics of Group Coaching.
- A Problem
This could be a task, challenge, project or issue that is posed to the entire group.
When a problem is urgent and crucial, group members are forced to face it as one, and take the necessary action.
Research has shown that complex and unknown problems can be solved in an easier way in such a scenario.
- Questioning and Listening
In order to solve a problem, Group Coaching encourages members to ask perceptive questions, identify solutions by listening reflectively, and taking action to bring about the change.
New questions reshape and reassess mental models and ways of thinking, and promote an environment of change.
- Undertaking Action
It’s absolutely essential that the group is not only tasked with thinking of solutions, but also taking action themselves.
By allowing them to lead from the front, you can keep up the energy and spirits of the group members.
- Uninterrupted Learning
As the members of the group continue to grow and learn, so does the entire group and/or organization.
They can then apply these learnings outside the workshop or coaching sphere, and maintain the growth.
- A Coach
Although you assume a secondary position, you — as a coach — have a very important role to play in Group Coaching to ensure everything goes smoothly.
As the group dynamic changes with new learnings, you can eventually transfer the responsibility to the group itself, so it can learn to govern itself.
Different Approach Formats of Group Coaching
Much like other forms of coaching, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to Group Coaching.
Every group is unique, with its own set of challenges and problems; so you must adapt your approach formats to suit their respective needs.
Here are the four most common and effective approaches to this model:
- Creating a Buddy System
As a group coach, you can’t have the kind of a direct relationship you would have with a client in one-on-one coaching.
To bridge that gap, you can assign partners or buddies to every group member. By pairing two or more people up, you can pave the way for deeper bonds and communication.
In a study called ‘A Study Buddy Support Scheme’, which was published by Journal of Peer Learning, 72% of at-risk students passed after participating in the buddy system, while only 49% of those who didn’t participate managed to pass their exams.
- Focused or Hybrid Coaching
At certain times, you may find that the Group Coaching model in itself is not promoting enough growth.
In such cases, you can adopt a hybrid model wherein you offer quick, private coaching sessions to group members before or after coaching them altogether.
- Group Discussions and Peer Coaching
As the key driving force of any Group Coaching setting, peer coaching and group discussions allow participants to share among each other, question, listen, and identify solutions on their own.
- Individual or Private Reflection
It’s equally important to give time to each member to introspect and sit with their own thoughts.
You can facilitate this by asking participants to write in their journals and share their thoughts later with the group, once they have been able to articulate them.
How to Create a Group Coaching Program
Creating a Group Coaching program is not an overnight task. There is a lot of thought, research, and effort that goes into building a program from scratch.
In this chapter, I will help you tackle this overwhelming process by chalking out the basic requirements and considerations.
Key Questions to Ask yourself About the Program
In order to design a successful Group Coaching program, you, yourself, need to be clear about the aim, content, and structure of your sessions.
You can ask yourself the following questions to piece this puzzle together:
- What’s the theme of the program?
Depending upon the problems of the group you’re targeting, you should have a theme in place.
For example, a weight loss program, a productivity program, etc.
- How many people are going to attend the group session?
Having a fair idea of the number of participants will help you prepare for the sessions in a more detailed and informed manner.
- What content are you planning to share with the group?
Your content plan should be clear and good to go before every session. Playing it by ear is not a feasible or responsible strategy in such situations.
- What are your clients’ expectations?
Being aware of the participants’ expectations puts you in a better position to meet them. Remember that you’re here to help the group members achieve their goals and tweak the program to be able to do so.
- What are the goals of the sessions?
Every session must have a defined goal or goals, so that you and the participants can work towards it without any kind of ambiguity.
Types of Group Coaching Models to Choose for your Program
In order to structure your Group Coaching program, you need to pick a model that works for you, as well as the group members.
I have listed the three most used models that you can use to design your program’s structure.
- Cohort Model
A cohort is a group of people who share the same characteristic.
In this model, the group works as a cohort to meet, talk through, and solve their problems on the same day.
They must sign up in advance and commit to the process of a day-long workshop.
- Program Model
This type of model is most usable when you have a large audience that can’t meet in offline sessions. Here, you can set up an online program of a specific length and duration, where clients can sign up according to their convenience. The webinars can be pre-recorded to scale this program further.
- Membership Model
In this model, you need to develop an annual Group Coaching program that new and old members can sign up for on a specified set of dates.
Here, each member will follow the schedule decided by you to work through their problems and achieve their individual and collective goals.
Pricing your Program
When deciding the cost of your program, you need to take into consideration many things.
Below are a list of factors that will determine the overall cost of the package you offer to group clients:
- The length and duration of your program
- The number of participants and groups requiring coaching
- The experience and seniority of the participants
- The aim and expectations of the program
Apart from these factors, the model you choose, i.e. cohort, program, or membership model, will also impact the overall pricing of your program.
While there’s no exact science to come up with a cost structure for each of these models, keep in mind the technical setup, management resources, and scalability of your program to arrive at a figure.
Typically, a membership program would cost less than a program or cohort model, so as to reward your loyal customers.
Now that you know how to create a group coaching model, let’s move on to discussing advanced tips to take your program to the next level next.
Advanced Tips and Techniques to Become a Successful Group Coach
It can be slightly tricky to navigate Group Coaching if you’re new to it, mainly because you may not be used to dealing with more than one or two people at a time.
In this chapter, I will give you some advanced tips and techniques that can help you in your journey to becoming a group coach.
To begin with, let’s look at some must-have skills you should acquire to conduct Group Coaching.
Must-Have Tips & Skills for Every Group Coach
In this section, I will list out the essential skills every group coach should master, and how they will help you steer every session you conduct in the right direction.
You can follow these tips to improve your program.
- Build a Shared Base
For the diverse members to connect and meet in the middle, every group needs to have a shared foundation of similar expectations and goals.
It’s up to you to build this common ground from the get-go, so that all the group members have an overarching aim to work towards.
- Identify and Set Goals
Many times, your clients won’t know what their goals, whether collective or individual, are.
It’s your job to sit down with them and help them identify their goals, both one-on-one and as a group.
This way, they can move forward with a clear picture in their minds.
- Facilitate Communication
Not everyone has a similar personality in a group.
While some people may be more upfront and extroverted, others may be shy and unsure of themselves.
Find a way to make everyone feel comfortable enough to communicate openly, even if that means dabbling in other modes of communication, such as writing in a diary.
4. Analyze and Understand Group Dynamics
Group Coaching will keep you and your observation skills on their toes.
You need to watch out closely for changes in group dynamics; keep an eye out for what’s working in the group’s favour and what’s taking away from the larger goals, etc.
Remember: you’re dealing with a group of people, not just one client.
5. Ensure Confidentiality
None of what is being said and expressed in the session should leave the room – this is a responsibility shared by you as well as the other group members.
The importance of confidentiality should be drilled into the minds of the participants.
6. Craft Opportunities for Collaboration
At the end of the day, the main goal is for the group to work and grow together.
So ensure that you are opening up enough doors for the participants to collaborate and improve their working relationships.
7. Combat Groupthink
A common psychological phenomenon, groupthink occurs when members of a group strive to attain a consensus by compromising on their own opinions or beliefs.
It’s important that every individual is expressing their real opinions instead of trying to play it safe and going with the majority.
8. Express Genuine Belief in the Process
If you don’t believe in the process sincerely, neither will your clients.
Leave your skepticism aside and fully commit to the process, and your clients will follow suit.
9. Use Powerful Questions to Overcome Roadblocks
There might be times when your clients face mental blocks or lose faith in the process.
In such scenarios, you can use powerful questions to make them introspect and come up with the right answers.
Below are a few examples of such questions:
- What is your motivation for being here today?
- What do you think we can improve upon to cover today’s topic better?
- What is your key learning from today?
- How would you change your approach for the next session, if you’re dissatisfied?
10. Spend Time Getting to Know your Group
In order to understand the different communication styles of each member and the overall group dynamic, you need to spend time with the group.
Work on your relationship with the group on the whole as well as with each member, so that you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Bonus Techniques for Group Coaching
There are certain tried-and-tested techniques used by group coaches that help make the process of Group Coaching much smoother.
In this section, I will cover two such techniques and explain how you can incorporate them into your program.
This technique can be applied to Group Coaching in every step of the process, like the aim of the session, taking action, etc.
All you have to do is simply pose the group with a problem, prompt or question, and ask them to brainstorm as many solutions as possible.
2. The Delphi Technique
This technique is often used as an alternative to brainstorming, where a consensus is reached for a problem by providing views upon it anonymously.
After this is done, the commonalities are identified in each of the opinions; this entire process is mediated by a facilitator.
3 Ideas for Group Coaching Exercises
Good news! You’re almost ready with your Group Coaching program.
As a finishing touch, I’d like to equip you with a few special exercises that you can use in your workshops and sessions.
- Blindfolding Exercise
This is an excellent trust-building and communication enhancing exercise for your sessions.
To conduct it, you must divide the members into pairs; one member is blindfolded, and is the walker, and the other one will be the guide.
Ask the guide to lead the walker around the room by using verbal and non-verbal communication.
2. ‘Keep your Balloons in the Air’ Exercise
This is a simple exercise to combat stress and promote working in unison, while having a great time.
All you have to do is toss two-three balloons in the air, and ask your group members to work together to ensure they don’t touch the ground.
In order to save their balloons, they will have to work as a team and communicate well.
3. ‘Wheel of Life’ Exercise
This can be a great exercise to assess the individual goals of every group member.
The ‘Wheel of Life’ is an effective coaching tool to evaluate different areas of a client’s life. Click here to read our definitive guide on this tool.
You can also download your free ‘Wheel of Life’ template here.
Notable Benefits of the Group Coaching Model
As mentioned before, Group Coaching is the preferred form of coaching in many situations, and has been hailed by many experts in the industry globally.
In this chapter, I will take you through the notable advantages of this model to help you grasp its value.
This section covers benefits for group coaches, members, as well organizations.
How Group Coaching Benefits you as a Coach
As a coach, I’m sure you’re curious about how this model of coaching is beneficial for you.
In this section, I list out the exclusive benefits for you as a group coach:
- You can Help More People
Group Coaching allows you to have a greater impact on more people and their lives.
You can use your expertise and knowledge to better the equation of an entire group of people, rather than a single individual.
- It’s Financially Rewarding
Group coaching works out financially for both parties – it’s cheaper for the group members compared to a one-on-one session.
And it gives you, as a coach, better returns because of the number of people involved.
- Opens the Door to More Coaching Opportunities
By reaching out to, and touching the lives of an entire group over a single person, you end up opening many doors for other coaching opportunities.
How Group Coaching Benefits your Clients
This model is also equally rewarding for your clients.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits group members are subjected to in Group Coaching.
- It Offers a Shared Experience
When members are exposed to a collective pool of ideas that’s not just their own, they end up developing a sense of camaraderie.
Group Coaching paves the way for long-lasting relationships and friendships among the group members.
- It’s Financially Feasible
As mentioned in the previous section, Group Coaching is financially cheaper for clients than individual coaching.
Therefore, it can be a more feasible option at times.
- It Helps with Network Development
Group coaching not only opens a member up to the others in the group, but it effectively allows them to make use of each other’s connections and networks outside the room as well.
How Group Coaching Benefits an Organization
Why should an organization invest in Group Coaching?
To answer this question, let’s look at some of the pros this model offers for organizations as a whole.
- It increases team maturity and overall functionality.
- It improves processes, products, and services in the long run.
- It enhances leadership qualities in the employees.
- It encourages an environment of learning in the company.
- It fosters a space for collaboration between colleagues.
- It allows for goals to be achieved at various levels, including individual, departmental, and organizational.
All of this being said, there are some drawbacks to the Group Coaching model, as it is with any model.
Drawbacks of the Group Coaching Model
No coaching model is perfect, and Group Coaching is no exception.
In this chapter, I will help you manage your expectations from this model by highlighting some of its major drawbacks.
This chapter covers cons for both clients as well as for you, as a group coach. Let’s take a look.
Drawbacks of Group Coaching for Coaches
As a coach, you would like to face minimum drawbacks from a coaching tool or model, so that you can get maximum results for your efforts.
Here are the cons you should expect from the Group Coaching model.
- Resistance from the Members
The group members may not believe in the process, or simply may be too shy or uncomfortable to share their private opinions and thoughts in a group setting.
To overcome this hurdle, you will really have to make sure they understand the aim of the process, and feel safe enough to get involved in it.
2. Inflexible Schedules
Since you are managing a whole group, rescheduling a session — even in case of an emergency — might be difficult.
Your accountability will increase, and you will have to stick to the schedule.
3. Slow Pace
Progress may be slower than what you’re used to in one-on-one sessions.
Don’t be discouraged by a slow and steady pace – remember to be patient and keep working in the right direction.
Drawbacks of Group Coaching for Members
This model also has a few drawbacks for your clients, even though the benefits exceed these by a considerable margin.
Let’s take a look at some of these cons.
- Feelings of Intimidation
Not everyone thrives in a group setting. The idea of such a workshop may make some of your introverted clients feel uncomfortable, and as a result, contribute to the resistance we spoke about in the previous segment.
- The Possibility of a Temporary Delay in Productivity
Naturally, when group members are spending some of their time with you, they can’t be working on their immediate goals.
This might affect their productivity and performance in the short-term. However, it will definitely benefit them in the long-term.
The Intricacies of Online Group Coaching
Online Group Coaching can be a viable alternative for when you can’t schedule offline sessions, either due to a time crunch, location issue, or something else.
In this chapter, I will take you through everything you need to know to conduct this practice virtually, including its benefits, as well as possible platforms where you can host your sessions.
Benefits of Online Group Coaching
Interestingly, some of the disadvantages mentioned in the previous chapter can be tackled by employing online Group Coaching as your chosen medium.
Let’s take a look at some of the unique benefits it offers.
- Lowers the Cost Further
Because of the minimal infrastructure involved, the cost of the sessions goes down substantially.
All you need to host these sessions is a laptop, internet connectivity, and — of course — your own expertise.
- Offers Flexibility in Terms of Timings
As mentioned in Chapter 4 under the program model, online sessions offer your clients more freedom to choose from different time slots.
They can simply log in at a time that fits into their schedule.
- Expands your Pool of Group Coaching Members
Since, group members and you don’t have to show up at a fixed physical place, you can invite members from all around the world to join your sessions.
It particularly also helps in the current Covid-19 scenario, where offline meetups aren’t as common as they once were.
The Best Software and Platforms to Host your Sessions
Now that you’ve decided to take your Group Coaching program online, you need to find the right platform to host it on.
There are quite a few players in the market, and the best way to choose one is to research them all and then see which one suits your needs the most.
In this section, I’ll help you choose between three types of platforms and software for your virtual Group Coaching sessions.
- Free Online Tools and Platforms
You don’t need to invest in this step if you’re just starting out, experimenting, or using this model temporarily.
You can just go ahead and make the most of free universal tools such as Google documents, Google Drive etc.
Moreover, you can work on building a community by hosting your sessions on virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, which are free. Social media platforms like Facebook can also help you bring your clients together.
- Paid Platforms for an Enhanced Experience
These paid platforms offer you state-of-the-art facilities and will make your program look even more professional.
Congratulations! You have successfully completed the definitive guide to the Group Coaching model.
It’s my pleasure to inform you that you now have all the information and knowledge you need to harness the power of this coaching tool.
Which Group Coaching structure have you found best suited to your business?
Which Group Coaching exercise did you find to be most useful?
I’d love to hear what you think of this guide, and if there’s anything you need more help with on the topic.
Do leave a comment below and let me know!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is group coaching?
Group coaching involves working with a group of people who are all on the same journey in order to achieve a certain goal together. Each person in the group has the same goal, and they all help each other in order to reach it.
What happens in group coaching sessions?
Group coaching session is a mixture of online and offline coaching. It includes all the components of a complete online and offline program. It is a virtual program that gives you a detailed step by step system which includes online work, ebooks, audio, video training, and live one on one coaching sessions.
What are the benefits of group coaching sessions?
Group coaching sessions are a new way of learning. The group is an immediate environment to learn from. In a group, you can gain perspectives from a variety of individuals. You can listen, ask questions and get feedback from others. The group helps you gain new perspectives and work through challenges. Group learning sessions help you develop a network of mentors and support systems. You learn from everyone in the group.
What are the different approaches to Group Coaching?
Group coaching is very dynamic. Unlike one-on-one coaching, or in-person seminars, group coaching allows you to learn and network with many people at once. It’s a special kind of dynamic, though. There are many approaches to group coaching, and a lot depends on the specific focus of the group. Are you looking to identify your ‘one thing’ and answer the question of “What do I want?” Or are you looking to work on some life-changing behavior change? Are you looking to brainstorm and make connections or are you looking to push yourself even further? There’s always a lot riding on the definition of the group’s purpose. You’ll have a useful experience regardless, but you’ll get even more out of it if you are clear about what you want and what you’re looking for.
What is the difference between Group and One-on-One Coaching?
Group coaching is essentially a class of sorts, the coaches act as facilitators and the participants are the students. Group coaching is best suited for beginners, as they tend to be a little more laid back and offer the warmest and friendliest of atmospheres to learn in. Group coaching is absolutely ideal for those who are just starting out, as well as people who are curious about what coaching is all about but aren’t quite ready to invest heavily in private sessions.
How do you structure a group coaching program?
Group coaching is a very effective form of education as it empowers people to learn and experience something first hand. The better the group of participants the better the group coaching program. It is important to choose the right group size, so that the group is not too big or too small. I have worked under different conditions, with people having varying levels of experience and expertise. I have used different teaching styles and techniques to teach them and have been successful in every case.