If you’re like most coaches, at some point in your career you’ll consider working with groups of people instead of, or in addition to, coaching clients one-on-one. If you have that urge, you’d be wise to answer the call.
Group coaching is a growing trend and a natural part of a coach’s professional evolution. There are so many reasons why! Working with groups of clients allows you to make a much bigger impact and be of service to hundreds, if not thousands, more people than you could ever reach if you only coach clients individually.
With group coaching you can bust through the income ceiling you inevitably hit when your practice gets full and your coaching rates top out. It’s not uncommon for coaches to double or triple their income or more when they start working with groups.
Plus, when you coach groups you can say goodbye to a calendar chock full of coaching sessions and instead create more time freedom for all of the other important things in your life.
Now you might be thinking, “Well that sounds great for the coach, but what about the client? Do people really want to be part of a group program? How does group coaching even work?”
Those are all great questions, so let’s begin by taking a look at why clients love group programs and how the group format can actually provide greater support for your clients.
For starters, research has shown that commitments made publicly are more likely to be kept and sharing progress with others makes people more likely to accomplish their goals. This means that when you coach groups you can create greater accountability so that your clients take more action and ultimately achieve better results.
Next, when people go for a big goal or focus on addressing an important issue, they often feel isolated. Being part of a coaching group with others in a similar situation creates synergy, momentum and inspiration. Plus there is the collective group wisdom, which is one of the best ways to address, “Not knowing what you don’t know.” Hearing someone else’s questions, concerns, insights and ideas around a common challenge is a powerful way to deepen learning, expand awareness and discover new insights.
And last, but definitely not least, group coaching typically provides a higher ROI. The fact is, most people are price sensitive, whether they are investing in their own personal growth or they are in charge of determining how to best utilize their limited corporate training and development budget. Having a more affordable group option can make coaching with you an easier “Yes” because your clients feel like they are getting a deal, saving money and maximizing their return on investment.
Now that we’ve identified some of the benefits of coaching groups, let’s explore four keys to successfully coach your group.
4 Keys For Successfully Coaching Groups
#1 – Have A Common Focus And Specific Outcome
One of the big differences between coaching individual clients and coaching groups of people is that group coaching stays focused on helping people achieve a common, specific outcome.
You see, most coaches follow “the client sets the agenda” approach. Which means that even when a client hires a coach to reach a distinct goal, like finding and securing a new career, if another issue arises during the course of the coaching engagement, like a relationship challenge, the private coaching typically shifts focus for a period of time away from identifying the dream career and on to rescuing the relationship.
While there are ways to handle “life happens” situations in the group environment, effective and well run groups stay focused on achieving a specific outcome, and that singular focus helps clients achieve maximum results.
#2 – Develop Your Group Session Framework
Coaching groups requires more structure than coaching an individual client. Fortunately, this is easy to address by creating a framework for your group sessions. Think of the framework as a roadmap for your coaching group. You’re not creating a script or strict timeline for each session. Instead, having a framework will ensure that each group session flows well as your participants move forward towards the desired outcome.
Here are some of the items you can include in your group session framework:
- Participant Check-Ins
- Opening Activity
- Overview of Session Agenda
- Session Topic/Focus
- Content Delivery
- Learning Activity
- Coaching Questions
- Diad or Triad Exercise
- Group Discussion
- “Hot Seat or Spotlight” Coaching
- Action Commitments
Can you see how having a framework for each group coaching session makes it easy for you to stay on track, manage the time and provide huge value for your participants?
#3 – Leverage Your Existing Coaching Skills
When coaching groups, your primary role is to hold the focus, establish the context, create the environment and manage the group dynamics. As a coach you already have your own unique coaching style that combines your natural talents, learned skills and life experiences. You have an existing coaching toolbox you can use in the group environment, whether that’s providing “hot seat” coaching to a single participant and debriefing in a way that everyone gains value or doing a coaching exercise with the entire group.
Plus, one of the most powerful aspects of group coaching is the collective group wisdom. Your job as the coach is to bring it forward. Instead of feeling like you need to deliver tons of content or ask perfect coaching questions, allow enough time and space to tap into the knowledge and experiences of your participants. The opportunity to gain insights and learn from peers can be just as important as interacting with the coach.
#4 – Create Engagement, Connection and Accountability
Humans are tribe-based creatures naturally hardwired towards community, so the more you can create connection and engagement within your group, the greater the participation, accountability and ultimately results. Here are just a few of the ways you can do this: Have participants introduce themselves and share something personal to create intimacy and connection. Facilitate the forming of accountability partners or small mastermind pods. Establish group ground rules and guidelines to create a safe environment. Use a tracking system so participants can monitor their progress. Encourage an action-taking culture where “done is better than perfect.” Game-ify your group by running contests where everyone can win.
In conclusion, as someone who has trained over 1,000 coaches how to design, market, fill and deliver highly rewarding and profitable group coaching programs, I believe that if you know how to coach an individual client and you want to coach groups, you can do it! The final key is to get started.