Group coaching is a powerful and effective coaching technique for working with people to improve their health, wellbeing, personal strengths, self-efficacy, leadership qualities, team building, and beyond (Armstrong et al., 2013; McDowall & Butterworth, 2014).
Coaching in organizations has become increasingly common over the last couple of decades, with human resources and organizational development teams (and external consultants) expected to deliver coaching support on an almost daily basis.
Aside from the cost savings, professional group coaching has many benefits, not least is the ability to strengthen team bonds and improve awareness of the decisions made within a broader structure (Anderson, Anderson, & Mayo, 2008).
It is useful to distinguish between team and group coaching. The former relates to individuals working closely together as a single entity toward a clear and shared goal. The latter, group coaching, involves any group of individuals; they may not know one another and may differ in their needs and ultimate aims (Brown & Grant, 2009).
Group coaching involves one or more coaches and two or more individuals.
While the aim of coaching is typically to effect change in individuals, group coaching has the additional challenge of handling group-based dynamics by putting in place interpersonal and rapport-building skills (Brown & Grant, 2009).
There may be clear differences between one-to-one coaching – sometimes referred to as dyadic coaching – and group coaching, but at times the two can be combined successfully. It may prove useful or even necessary to switch between approaches as the situation dictates (Anderson et al., 2008).
For example, when a specific need arises or something is proving too personal to discuss in a group setting, a one-to-one intervention may be more appropriate.
However, there are instances when group coaching is preferred. Within an organizational setting, group coaching can promote team building and improve leadership effectiveness (Hackman & Wageman, 2005; Goldsmith & Morgan, 2000).
Broadly, the literature supports the idea that a systemic approach enables organizational development. Group coaching can overcome organizational resistance to change by rising above the focus on an individual’s goals and instead encouraging corporate thinking (Brown & Grant, 2009).
And there is value in reaching a consensus within group settings and listening to a range of voices and differing opinions.
However, group coaching must overcome some crucial challenges to be effective, such as consent and willingness. High-performing teams will not be created if staff attending and participating are under duress. It is worth knowing whether there are valid reasons behind a lack of enthusiasm; perhaps there is uncertainty regarding future career prospects, restructuring, or a resistance to change (Kets de Vries, 2005).
Individuals may also have concerns regarding openly discussing personal feelings or issues in front of peers.
For these reasons and others, such as existing tensions within groups, group coaching can be challenging and requires highly skilled coaches to have a chance of effecting permanent and positive change. Therefore, coaching at a group level is most appropriate when its goal closely aligns with those of the attendees.
Individual customers entering group coaching are likely to be highly motivated to engage and implement new learnings. They are paying to find the coaching knowledge and tools to move forward in a particular direction and have made a personal financial commitment to change.
The client can benefit from:
Specifically, as part of structured development within an organization, group benefits can include:
While each coaching benefit is valuable, when combined, they can positively impact individual, team, and organizational performance.
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