Teaching and Training vs. Group Coaching

Spoiler alert - at Group Coaching HQ, coaching always wins!

In the Group Coaching HQ training, we focus solely on group coaching. This means no agenda, no slides, no curriculum… Imagine walking into a coaching session with a 1:1 client and offering: “Today, we’re going to talk about boundaries. I’m going to teach you how to set boundaries, and then I’ll guide us through a conversation about it.”

We got chills just from writing this!

Coaching is not about teaching. Coaching is about partnering with the client to determine what THEY want to accomplish in the session. It’s the same in group coaching, only we partner with the group instead of an individual.

Don’t get us wrong. We are not offering that there is no place for other types of facilitation. We are offering that a coaching session should remain a coaching session, and that we, as group coaches must educate our group members to understand what this means, in the same way we would educate a 1:1 client.

A question that often comes up for us is “How can I fully be in coaching mode when I have a curriculum to get through?”

Here are some thoughts to help you decide what might work for your own group(s).

1. What is the purpose for the group?

Is it purely a coaching group, or are you offering training with important frameworks/concepts that your group members must learn?

This will impact how you approach your sessions. We strongly suggest having at least some sessions focused on coaching only wherever possible. This will mean you must educate your group members AND create clear expectations through contracting.

2. How much time do you have in each session?

If your sessions are on the shorter side and you must get through a curriculum, could you share the content in advance so that the time you have together can be spent on reflection and coaching on the topic?

Caveat: How much will actually get done outside of the session varies greatly from participant to participant… How will you set expectations clearly, and from the start? You might create a norm around coming to sessions prepared.

3. Consider the value group members receive from sharing experiences vs. seeing a framework.

While many of our clients want to understand what they are working through intellectually, we all know that growth truly happens when we connect to content emotionally. What better way to connect than through sharing experiences and digging into each others’ stories through coaching?

This is how we function at Group Coaching HQ. We give all the resources to our participants right at the start of the course and we use our valuable time together to share ideas, stories, resources… This is an important tenet of andragogy or adult learning theory: Let the learning be self-directed.

4. Throw people in at the deep end

Your group members are most probably very smart people! Can you spend a very short time with a framework, sharing maybe one tip, and then using the connection time to offer role-playing, simulations etc. and then coaching through the debrief process? We like to encourage our trainees to decide how fast to move participants towards the coaching process according to the make up of the room. If you have a lot of engineers that are process-driven, you’ll want to give them processing time. If you work with a bunch of creatives, chaos is where they'll thrive!

To conclude, while we believe that group coaching is the key to creating transformation, we also understand that sometimes, there is content to get through. The question is, how will you engage members with this content?

To learn more about the why of coaching vs. teaching, stay tuned for our next blog post, about creating agency in each member of the group and how that relates to adult learning theory.