Monday, August 18, 2014

Key elements in starting a group or team coaching engagement

It is no surprise that one of the ICF core coaching competencies is about Designing the Coaching
Agreement and another is about Creating Connection and Trust. The start of a group and team coaching engagement is one of the most important things to start planning for, and considering, as your relationships with group and team members, and the expectations you create together, create the foundation for a successful engagement.

Today's blog post encourages you to consider these elements in starting up your next group or team coaching engagement:

1. Get to know group/team members: For years I've talked about, and written about, the importance of a pre-program 1-1 call in terms of getting to know your group members, identifying common issues/themes across the group, and also answering any questions about the program. These pre-calls are also important in starting to create shared expectations about the coaching process.

2.Creating Ground Rules/Ways of Working - Creating shared agreements about behaviors which will support a positive learning environment is key component of the first call. Discussion around confidentiality and what this means, and other process issues, helps to create shared understanding. It also becomes a reference point if behaviors do not match these shared agreements during your work.

3. Building connection amongst group members. Consider your introductory activities and how you want to start building relationships amongst group members. Trust and connection is key in the team and group coaching process. What will bring together the group? What themes do you want to illustrate in your work together? Whether you bring in a visual deck like Conversation Sparker Cards(TM) or look to a site such such as for inspiration, remember that people tend to remember the start and end of things, so your kick off is key!

4. Identify areas for coaching - a number of coaches ask " How is it possible to coach more than one person at a time?". Key to success is identifying the common areas people want coaching around. This can look different in different types of programs.

For team coaching, assessments often get at the core what the issues are. Assessments like the Team Diagnostic Survey from Team Coaching International, or the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team(TM) help to pinpoint areas where there may be systemic areas of focus - low trust, inability to work across conflict etc.

In group coaching you may be marketing a program publically - for example - a business group coaching program for solopreneurs. Your program description may have drawn some of your group members to the program. Ask group members to identify and prioritize key focus areas. Working together through dialogue, what are the key topics for each session

A key definer of the coaching process is that it is shaped by the people being coached, so watch your balance between coaching and facilitation.

What else do you want to consider as you move into preparing for your fall programs? What else will create a positive first session?

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013)

Join us for an upcoming program including:
 The Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar starting Friday September 12  from 10:15-11:30 am ET by phone, with calls held September 12, 19, 26, October 3 and 10 (5 calls, 6.75 CCEs)
Advanced Group Coaching Practicum - starting Thursday September 11 from 10:15 - 11:30 am ET running to mid-October (6 calls, 8 CCEs)
Mentor Coaching Group starting Friday September 12 at 9 am Eastern, running for 3 months to mid-December. Meets the 10 hours of mentor coaching requirements with the ICF.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Five From One to Many Tips -

With the ongoing changes to Facebook algorhythms you may not have seen these recent From One to Many Tips posted at our Effective Group Coaching Facebook page. Here are five which were posted oer the last month - As you read through them, which ones can you incorporate into fall and winter programming?

Check out past posts which go into some of these topics including Four Approaches to Consider ,

Check out the post on Key Components for Designing Group and Team Coaching for some additional percolation points around engagement and design.

View my December 2013 video where I talk about some of these decks at the Effective Group Coaching YouTube page here.

You can also read a 2014 post on Five Ways to Use Visuals.

Check out the group coaching tools tab for a multitude of ideas of what you might want to incorporate or resources you may want to go to for inspiration when developing your next program. Both of my books - Effective Group Coaching and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching - have 40 plus page appendices with many other group coaching activities listed.

During week 4 of the Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar we cover more than a dozen tools, and each week of the teleseminar I bring in through modeling and your own participation a different approach or activity which you can adapt for your groups.
If you haven't done so, make a list of all the resources you have available to you.

Have a great weekend,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013)

Join us for an upcoming program including:
The Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar starting this Wednesday August 13 from 10-11:15 am ET by phone, with calls held August 13, 20, 27, September 3, and 10 (6.75 CCEs)
Mentor Coaching Group starting Thursday August 14 at 9 am Eastern, running for 3 months to mid-November. Meets the 10 hours of mentor coaching requirements with the ICF.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Mentor Coaching Group starts Thursday August 14 at 9 am Eastern/New York by phone

For those working towards their ACC or PCC credential with the ICF I will be starting a new Mentor
Coaching Group starting Thursday August 14th at 9 am ET.

This is a 10 hour small group mentor coaching program, where we explore the elevent competencies of the ICF. Three hours are scheduled individually with me over the three months, and seven of the hours are scheduled by phone for one hour calls in a small group setting (maximum 6 coaches). 

During our group calls we spend half of each class exploring two or three of the competencies each session, also discussing approaches and resources you as a coach utilize. The other half of each of the group call is a coaching practicum, where you on a rotational basis will have the opportunity to coach at least one other participant. You will receive feedback on your skills, and you will also benefit from seeing different styles at play.

Group calls will be held on Thursdays from 9-10 am Eastern on August 14, 21, Sept 11, 26, October 2, 16, November 6.

Each group call is supported by module notes, which include more information about the competencies. 

Here’s what a recent alumni said about the program:
An excellent programme, supporting me to develop my confidence and capability as a coach.  Jennifer is a brilliant facilitator and very generous coach, sharing her comprehensive knowledge and expertise.  The opportunity to work with other coaches in the group calls and practicums was particularly empowering and affirming.  I loved it.  I feel I’ve really grown as a coach.” - Lorna Shaw,

Cost: $1000 US or CDN (plus HST) for the 10 hour program

Click here to learn more or reserve your spot

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC, CPCC, BCC

Group and Team Coaching: One Size Does Not Fit All

The variety which shows up in my work with teams and groups is what keeps me energized, and I do
Photo by Gratsiela Toneva
believe more effective, . Whether it is a new program I am rolling out with a team, or a new coaching group I am taking through the 90 Day BizSuccess program with, each group and team experience is different. One size does not fit all.

As you will note throughout my years of writing here at the blog, I often write, It Depends. Our work as coaches is highly customized, and needs to be shaped by their realities, priorities and preferences.

As you consider how to work with your clients, put them front and center. Ask yourself:
What are their needs? What are the top issues or questions keeping them up at night? What are the issues they are really grappling with?

What are the styles at play? Each group we work with will have a variety of personalities, ways in which they see the world, and ways they learn. Are these people who see the world in broad strokes or fine details? Providing your clients with an assessment such as MBTI, Everything DiSC, Insights or other, can provide them with valuable information, as well as cues for you in terms of what different approaches you may want to bring in. For example, if you know that the group has a preference for learning through action, versus reading, this may prompt you to bring in more experiential processes, rather than reading activities between touch-points.

How long do they want to meet for? Some coaches are successful in launching and running year long group coaching processes. Personally, most of my clients have a much shorter window of time they feel comfortable committing to. Three to four months is usually their window of time. What are your clients preferences in terms of length they want to meet for each touch point and the sessions overall?

In person or virtual? Each group and community is different. Throughout the summer months I work in a smaller rural setting where people value a face to face connection. The rest of the year I am based in Toronto where we face one of the longest commute times in North America. Rather than meeting in person on a weekly basis, I usually find many of my Toronto based clients prefer either more intensive meetings (i.e. full weekends, half days over several weeks) or phone based work.

As you consider your clients, what are their particular needs. What makes them unique? What can you offer to them?

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, MES, PCC, CPCC

Join us for an upcoming program including the:
Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar - 6.75 CCEs - starting Wednesdays at 10 am ET on August 13th - Sept 10. Five calls packed with practical, actionable tips for your own group coaching design, marketing and implementation.
Mentor Coaching Group - Thursdays 9-10 am Eastern starting August 14th. Are you looking to get ICF credentialed (ACC/PCC) or need to renew your ACC? This program meets the requirements for mentor coaching with the ICF. 7 calls with a small group (max 6 coaches), 3 individual calls with me. 10 hrs. Click here for more info or to register.
Summer Virtual Business Planning Retreat - Friday August 15 from 9-3 pm ET by phone. Six hours of structured group and individual activities to move your business forward. More info at

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Four Neuroscience and Learning Considerations for Group and Team Coaching

Four Neuroscience and Learning Considerations for Group and Team Coaching
Jennifer Britton, Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved.

As someone who studied psychology in the late 1980s and early 1990s, taking many years of coursework on cognition and learning, I am fascinated at how what was once the experimental landscape of academia has become so mainstream in learning, and leadership. Today's blog post includes four considerations which stem from neuroscience and psychology to enhance your group and team coaching program

First, remember the latency and recency effect. The brain tends to remember the start and end of things. What are the core takeaways you would like people to leave with or remember the program afterwards. In the coaching process, this is one of the key reasons why I start with a check in  - what have you done since we last met? What have you accomplished? What do you want to focus on? - and check out - what have you learned? What are you taking forward? What are you committed to doing before our next conversation - in order to keep a focus on what's really important for the client.

Second, Fight or flight - Under times of stress, we can experience an amygdala highjacking, which some researchers say take us back to the reptilian brain. Under stress, or threat, we may want to move to a innate response of fighting or running away. In a team or group coaching process, it is important to notice when stress reactions may occur due to conflict, moving out of comfort zones, or when trust and connection is not there.

In terms of program design, think through how group and team members are going to get to know each other and trust each other so they can move into deeper and more challenging discussions, as well as sequencing - moving from lower risk to higher risk (for the group and/or individual).

Third, the role of mirror neurons. I came across a great article by Joshua Freeman in Forbes who writes about neuroscience and learning in his article "The Neuroscience at the Heart of Learning and Leading". In the article he writes about the discovery of mirror neurons. These neurons are significant in the imprinting of others - for example, the role of mentors and others who have significant impact. Freeman writes, "“Mirror neurons seem to be a bridge between our thinking, feeling, and actions—and between people,” says Iacobini. “This may be the neurological basis of human connectedness, which we urgently need in the world today.”

Finally, the idea of a social brain has evolved over the years, grounded in the belief that the brain too needs and thrives through interaction with others. View a TedEx talk with neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman here. His book published last year is called Social: Why our Brains are Wired to Connect. You can read more about this and other items in an Atlantic article by Emily Esfahani Smith entitled Social Connection Makes A Better Brain here.  

Team and group coaching are grounded in the peer element and interactions with others. I continue to see the impact on goals and results peers and others play when coaching many. What do you see about how the role of others in these modalities differs from an individual coaching conversation?

As someone who  worked in the field of as community development for decades, it's fascinating to read what does happen through our social interaction. Emily's article also delves into the impact volunteerism plays in happiness, another key component of community development.

Interested in learning more about neuroscience? Here are some initial links to explore that I came across which you might want to check out:

What other resources would you recommend?

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, BSc, MES, PCC
Author of From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013) and Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2009)

Join us for an August program by phone. Upcoming August programs include:
Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar (6.75 CCEs with ICF): Wednesdays 10 - 11:15 am ET: August 12 - Sept 10
Mentor Coaching Group (for ACC Renewal and ACC/PCC portfolio): Thursdays 9-10 am ET: starting August 13 or Fridays 9-10 am ET starting September 12 (by phone)
Summer Virtual Business Planning Retreat - Friday August 15 (9-3 pm ET) - by phone

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Group and Team Coaching: Four Core Elements of Good Design

Group and Team Coaching - Four Core Elements of Good Design

Copyright 2014: Jennifer Britton. All Rights Reserved

Coaches who work in the realm of group and team coaching can benefit from the addition of
Team Story Board - Copyright J. Britton
instructional design skills, including thinking about sequencing, structure and size when designing their initial program. While we alwas want to lead from the principle of coaching int he moment, once you have more than one person in the room, thinking about structure and design makes a strong coaching process, even stronger.

Today’s blog post explores four elements of  design in any group or team coaching process including:

1. Lead from what your clients need and want. In coaching, our clients “drive the bus” and should shape the coaching process. What do you know about:
- The key issues this group/team wants support around?
- Delivery - virtual, in person, both?
- For Groups - what's the balance between focus on group,and focus on individual? Is there a hybrid?
- Frequency and pacing - what frequency and pace will work best

Questions to consider:
As you think about the group or team you are working with right now, what are the responses to each one of these questions? What other things do you need to ask your client, or consider in the design?

2. A balance between Action and Awareness. 
Coaching takes place along the two realms of supporting our clients into taking action, and also deepening awareness around the issues of importance. The go hand and hand. Without action, awareness is just a nice thought. Without awareness and connectivity to the bigger picture, values, vision and goals, action becomes a check-box activity.

Some clients are excellent in getting into action, and in fact benefit when the brakes are applied so they can slow down and gain insights around different perspectives, beliefs and values at play. On the flip side, some clients are great at awareness, and struggle with getting into action.

Question to consider:
What is the balance of action and awareness for the group or team you are working with right now? Collectively? Individually?

3. In design, consider the entire coaching arc - pre-program, during, between sessions and post-program.
The impact of coaching does not always happen in the conversation. Coaching is a process of change, and starts from that every first touch-point, often before you get in the room together as a group or team. Providing team or group members with opportunities to reflect, discover and articulate insights between formal coaching touch-points with peers is also another important design element to consider.

Questions to consider:
 Consider what elements you want to incorporate before you start your work, post-program, and what will support learning between sessions (peer conversation, fieldwork/homework etc).

4. Trust and connection is key in a group or team coaching conversation. Coaching is a deeper conversation and requires vulnerability on the part of our clients. In order to explore “edgy” areas, or uncover what’s really at the heart of conflict, group or team members need to trust each other and connect deeply with each other.

Design elements, activities you incorporate, as well as keeping group size small can support the development of trust and connection. 

Questions to consider:
What is going to support the group in getting to know each other? Connecting?  Building trust?
What program elements might be getting in the way of creating trust and connection?
What are the different stretch zones which exist in the group or team?

As you go to approach your next group or team coaching engagement, consider these four ideas.

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
(416)996-TEAM (8326)
Interested in exploring more around design? Check out chapters in either one of my books (listed above) OR join us for an upcoming program including the Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar starting August (Wednesdays 10-11:15 am Eastern/Toronto) or the Group and Team Coaching Intensive (Toronto: November 1-2, 2014 - Early Bird Rate on Now). You can also book me for an intensive day of 1-1 work through a VIP Day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The importance of agreements in any group or team coaching process

The importance of agreements in any group or team coaching process 

Jennifer Britton, Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved

Spending time at the start of any coaching engagement to discuss expectations and create shared expectations is critical in any group or team coaching process. When things do go awry, or conflict emerges, the shared agreements become a place of common ground, and a place to return to for dialogue. They also help to shape the co-created experience of coaching, where all group or team members should have a voice, and are at choice to step into the coaching process.

While it may appear that this is a “rote” activity to some coaches, without time spent on this, things can go awry. Agreements  invite group members to be active participants in the process.

Common agreements in any group and team coaching process may include:
* Confidentiality - this is an implicit part of the coaching process
* Starting and ending on time
* Being fully present
* Participating 100%
* Use of technology during the course

In shorter programs you may want to provide some common agreements to for dialogue to start from, and participants to agree to. In longer terms programs it is important to facilitate this dialogue and have the group themselves create or co-create the set of agreements. This could take five minutes, or in larger groups, could take significantly longer time.

Questions to consider: 
What can you do to build agreements in? 
What will this look like in your next program?
What adjustments will you make in the virtual environment?

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC
Join us for an upcoming program - the Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar (6.75 CCEs) starting Thursday July 17th at 10:15 am ET or the Mentor Coaching Group (for ACC Renewals and ACC/PCC portfolio) starting Monday July 14th at 11 am Eastern/New York (by phone)