Create a Focused Group Coaching Session

Have you ever gone into a group coaching session and instantly felt the need to jump right into the conversation?

Maribel Aleman, Co-Founder here at Group Coaching HQ and Chief Learning Officer for our Group Coaching Training programs shares her thoughts.

There are times where I have picked up on the energy from the group and felt the need to respond by letting them “go at it.”  

Those are the times I force myself to stop, allow for a moment where the group members ground themselves and commit to the session at the very beginning of our time together. The alternative to let them “go at it” would mean a distracted and aimless session.

As we come back to in person sessions my trust in this “stop” has been renewed and validated over and over again.

In one group, made up of C-Suite execs, they were clearly distracted by the industry’s latest news bombshell. The “small talk” as they came into the room was tense for some, distracted for others. The day’s noise, the pulls from endless scrolling and the worries about the next few months were pushed to the background when they acknowledged the distraction they wanted to eliminate, and committed to how they wanted to engage during the one hour we had together.

At this first “stop” in the session’s flow, the group members connected with what was important to them and were able to let go. At the end of the session, they reflected on how they had moved from being charged up when they walked into the room to being focused and supportive of themselves and others. The energy shifted as they worked through the grounding exercise. They heard what each person brought and wanted from the session. The air in the room changed. There was a focused energy and intent that set the stage for a powerful session.

Question is… How can we as group coaches make this “stop,” a powerful experience rather than a routine check-in.  How can we ground our groups and set the stage for a powerful session?

Here are some ideas:

1. Check your presence

If you doubt the importance of the stop, the group won’t buy into it. If you are nervous or uncertain about how you help the group ground or commit to the session, the members won’t engage.

A colleague, Douglas Choo, Executive Coach, uses what he calls the 5 C’s to help his clients center. It also works well for coaches as they come in…

Reflect on how

  • Calm
  • Clear
  • Compassionate
  • Curious
  • Courageous

you are in right now.  What would it take to move that up just one click?  How can that help you for what you want?

2. Pay attention to structure

The grounding exercise needs to be simple and reflective. You only have a few minutes to set the stage for a transformative session. While the group engages in a complicated exercise you are increasing the chances of losing them. There is elegance and power in simplicity.

3. Pay attention to language

You probably have heard about this icebreaker: Who would you want to invite to thanksgiving dinner? Real or fictional, dead or alive.  

You can repurpose traditional icebreakers with group coaching in mind. I adapted it and asked the group:

Who would you want to invite to dinner, that inspires and energizes you?

That small shift allowed for the group to identify those things that were missing and off-balance in their lives within minutes of starting the session. The reflection led into a commitment for what they wanted for themselves and other group members out of the session. The rest of the session was magic.

That focus on “inspiration” and “energy” allowed the group to focus on what was most important to them, and created a powerful focus for the group. 2 words made all the difference.

As coaches, we can get stuck in “coach speak”. What is the language you can use to make the grounding exercise feel personal and real to them?  Ask yourself: Would someone who is not a coach resonate with it? If not, take out your red pen and edit it.

That vital stop at the beginning of the group session is an opportunity. How will you help your group make the most out of it?