Co-Creating Norms with Your Group Coaching Program Participants

Have you ever found yourself in a group that just wasn’t a fit for you? It could have been a job, a volunteer group, or even a group of friends where dynamics shifted. While there might be many reasons this is true, a key element of positive connection is establishing group trust.


One of the most positive things you can do for your group coaching program, and yourself, is to co-create clear norms and expectations from the very beginning.

Include group members in the process

Spend time with them co-creating agreements that will drive the relationships in the group.

Think about each person’s previous experience with groups and ask your group members to draw from those. What worked for them? What didn’t? What would they like to apply to this group to ensure they can all reach their goals? Adult learning theory tells us that it’s key to validate their knowledge and experiences.

Example norm: We respect confidentiality and what happens in the group stays in the group.

Reinforce the group’s agency in creating their experience

Acknowledge that this group cohort will need to self-manage, both as individuals and as a group. What are the expectations around attendance for your cohort? What would shift in the dynamic if someone isn’t showing up physically or emotionally - whether missing sessions or checking their Twitter while others are sharing?

Example norm: We turn off distractions and are present in each session.


Encourage commitment among your group members

This starts with considering why someone might emotionally and financially invest their time and energy in this program. A big advantage of the group environment, for many, is accountability and positive reinforcement of good habits or skills that people hope to develop so you might encourage your group to create norms around that. You might ask the group: “What do accountability and investment look like? How can we best co-create norms to ensure everyone is fully committed and invested in others’ success?”

Example norm: We check in on each other’s progress a the start of each session.

A last piece of advice

Remember! Group norms determine how the group will grow together. Take quality time to co-create them and revisit them often. You might even need to change or update them several times during your working relationship with the group.