Tag Archives: Group coaching

Coaching at work

We often hear about man­age­ment coach­ing, where a man­ager hires a coach to help him reach pro­fes­sional objec­tives. How­ever, coach­ing in orga­ni­za­tional con­text cov­ers a vari­ety of sub­jects pos­si­bly as large as in the per­sonal devel­op­ment con­text. Where there is a need, there is a sub­ject — from pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment to team build­ing or busi­ness devel­op­ment. A coach­ing agree­ment in work set­ting may also require the coach to some­times switch roles. Allow me to use an exam­ple through­out this sec­tion. It will be eas­ier to make dis­tinc­tions usu­ally unnec­es­sary in pri­vate indi­vid­ual coaching.

An exam­ple: Group coach­ing with a team of man­agers. A coach  signs an agree­ment with a man­ager who rep­re­sents the enter­prise. Let us call this man­ager the “enter­prise con­tact”. The agree­ment stip­u­lates that the coach sup­ports a client-group, made up of sec­tor direc­tors who will have to dish out com­pet­i­tive behav­iors in order to work in a fully coop­er­a­tive cul­ture. They had train­ing in the past, but results are not there and the CEO wants real change.

Group coach­ing is the solu­tion of choice. It will be more effec­tive to have all direc­tors work­ing together, learn­ing coop­er­a­tion through suc­ces­sive meet­ings, and tasks to do between the meet­ings. The coach feeds the con­ver­sa­tions with ques­tions and insights. It may hap­pen for the coach to meet one or more man­agers in indi­vid­ual ses­sions, in par­al­lel. By exam­ple, a new direc­tor has always worked in very com­pet­i­tive com­pa­nies in the past. He needs extra per­sonal ses­sions in order to keep the pace with the rest of the group. It is also pos­si­ble in this con­text that the first ses­sion is so emo­tion­ally charged it is impos­si­ble to move on. So in that case, our coach would switch to “facil­i­ta­tion” or “trainer” mode and help the group to estab­lish and to main­tain behav­ing and func­tion­ing rules dur­ing the ses­sions. Group coach­ing asks for a lot of flexibility.

About con­fi­den­tial­ity. Dis­cre­tion is a fun­da­men­tal ele­ment of a coach’s suc­cess. His clients open to him and share infor­ma­tion they do not want to be dis­closed out­side coach­ing ses­sions. When I per­son­ally work with a group, I rarely have to bring the sub­ject myself. Almost at every first meet­ing, one of the par­tic­i­pants will say some­thing like: “What is being said here stays here.” His fel­lows’ atti­tude clearly tells it is a con­di­tion for the whole group to par­tic­i­pate in the process.  It is impor­tant for the enter­prise con­tact and higher man­age­ment to accept this notion. I once had to explain to clients of a coach­ing group that I would no more see them, because man­age­ment wanted me to breach confidentiality.

This posi­tion does not keep from report­ing to the enter­prise con­tact or high man­age­ment as often as nec­es­sary. Dis­cus­sion focus is sim­ply away from what has been said and done dur­ing the ses­sions; it is rather about signs show­ing group pro­gres­sion towards its objec­tive. Indeed, exactly as in indi­vid­ual con­text, client-group mem­bers have home­work, tan­gi­ble things to do between ses­sions. This shows lit­tle by lit­tle in their every­day work. Peer pres­sure also plays an impor­tant role with such an approach. These signs are at the heart of the con­ver­sa­tions between our coach and his enter­prise con­tact. Focus is never about what has been said, but rather about har­bin­ger signs at first, fol­lowed by more tan­gi­ble evi­dences about sat­is­fy­ing results. Enter­prises pay for results after all.

Sched­ul­ing. Since meet­ings spread through time, one has to take in account both clients and coach avail­abil­ity. Ses­sions are usu­ally 60 to 90 min­utes long, and fre­quency is part of the agree­ment with the orga­ni­za­tion. This for­mat, being com­pa­ra­ble to a reg­u­lar meet­ing, is easy to man­age for the clients. In some cases, trav­el­ing expenses would become pro­hib­i­tive for either the coach or a client-group’s geo­graph­i­cally dis­persed mem­bers. Given the nature and length of the ses­sions, it is easy to work through phone con­fer­ences, even through web con­fer­ence allow­ing doc­u­ments and screen sharing.

I per­son­ally have more than twenty years of expe­ri­ence with orga­ni­za­tions. Con­tact me in order to dis­cuss about your cor­po­rate coach­ing needs.