The Positive Impact of Group Coaching
Group coaching as a learning and developmental tool has only recently been recognized. It is a concept that is not starting to be quite popular in organisations. The opportunity to learn in a peer group environment is very powerful. We need firstly to define group coaching.
What is Group Coaching?
Group coaching can have amazing power and positive impact in changing the behaviour of leaders in the workplace. Its influence results from group learning, the practical application of ideas, techniques, and tactics. Peers learn from each other under the tutorage of a skilled facilitator in sessions that last for 90 minutes. The results can be immediate and profound in most cases.
Group coaching is based on a facilitator working with a small group of four to six leaders in a 90-minute session. It is not a workshop or seminar. The coach will use a topic such as: Ways of dealing with difficult employees or Getting the best from the team you lead.
The facilitator involves everyone in the group to share strategies and techniques they have found to be successful (or unsuccessful). Ideas are ‘tossed around and commitments made to try certain approaches. At the end of the group coaching session, the facilitator will ask each leader to commit to a certain course of action they found useful.
The fundamental difference is that group coaching involves four to six individuals, either from the same department or across various departments. The coach’s role is the same in drawing out key insights, gaining commitments, and consolidating learning. There are other benefits to group coaching.
The group coaching sessions all have the same format. The facilitator introduces a leadership topic briefly and then invites each participant an opportunity to discuss the experience in applying this in their workplace. For instance, the topic could be: Giving effective feedback.
The coach will intervene at different points during the conversation and add value to the contributions on individual leaders. The third and final part of the session is devoted to gaining some concrete learning outcomes and invites participants to commit to what they will do differently because of the group coaching session.
What are the benefits of group coaching?
There are many benefits top group coaching. I have identified so here. It is true that the effectiveness of the group coaching experience is based on three related factors: first, that a skilled and experienced coach is engaged to facilitate the process; second, that a problem, topic, or issue is selected that impacts upon all participants in the session; and third, that participants have the capacity to learn from each other in the coaching sessions.
Most learning and development initiatives are centred on an expert or trainer. They impact their knowledge to a group of passive participants. Group coaching is a powerful learning strategy that is based on the concept of peer learning. Participants can hear first-hand how a colleague may have handled (or not handled) a situation or issue.
Many learning modes are too theoretical and therefore have no practical application in the real-world. With group coaching, participants are working with real problems, dilemmas, and issues. It is assumed that all participants in the group coaching session are facing the same circumstances and are looking for key learnings on how to deal with this.
Organisations continue to struggle with a ‘silo mentality’; that is, people are inclined to communicate functionally, but not so, cross-functionally. Group coaching offers organisations the opportunity to select participants from across the organisation. By doing this, the communication channels between functions open.
Many training programs and courses are ‘events’, meaning there is usually no follow-up. With group coaching there is generally several coaching sessions. And during those sessions, participants and their learning is reinforced with reviews and follow-up.
Most training programs are didactic; they depend on an expert to set the agenda and organise the curriculum for the learning program. With group coaching, the coach usually poses a question and participants drive the agenda by discussing issues that are relevant to them in their job.
Group coaching has many things going for it. I strongly suggest you give it a go. It may prove to be the most powerful of learning experiences for you and the organisation.