Thursday, April 17, 2014

What's in your back pocket?

It's always useful when working with groups and teams to have something in your back pocket, just in
Photo by Panmat (Stockxchng)
case. You never know where you will go in any conversation. Sometimes groups get caught up and we may need to put something aside, and sometimes, groups move quickly, and it can be useful to have something in your back pocket.

I often get asked about some of my favorite resources. Many of them I have picked up over the years, starting with some of my initial faves from the old days of Adventure Based Learning and Project Adventure.

The web is a fantastic resource for newer facilitators, and for those of us who are experienced, who need a little bit of a spark.

What are some of your favorite web resources? 

In a few weeks I'll be traveling to Washington DC to attend the ASTD International Conference and Expo. I'm really looking forward to being surrounded by lots of info, resources and other professionals who work in the area of workplace learning.  I am also REALLY excited to visit the ASTD bookstore. I continue to recommend many books that have come out through ASTD Press for coaches, trainers and other facilitators. Most of the books I have bought from them over the years are uber-practical and really supportive in pulling GREAT programs together. You can find ASTD's online store here.

Here's a link to some of my past posts on some of the different things to do with groups and teams. Enjoy!

With best wishes,

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Virtual Program Tips - Teleclasses, Webinars, Virtual Group Coaching

I've spoken to a lot of coaches and other professionals who  saw significant disruption in their work this past winter winter due to weather. For the last few years, I've intentionally moved a lot of my programming during what I am calling the winter season (mid-November to March for me in Toronto) to the virtual domain. I think many who went through the angst of this year's winter and travel woes will be making different  plans for next year. Will you be doing something different next year? Is now the time to start putting systems in place, and experience under your belt?

For those that are considering moving to more virtual programming (for whatever reasons) here is what I wrote about Five Virtual Program No-Nos almost three years ago back in 2011:

"With travel plans both sides of the Atlantic being stymied over the holiday season due to weather, many businesses, and individuals, are re-evaluating whether they really do want to, or need to, fly and/or travel.

Earlier this week, I identified increased virtualization of learning programs, including group coaching as a possible trend for 2011.

If you are a coach or trainer looking to launch your own group program by phone or web this year be sure to avoid the following virtual program No Nos:

1. Not having a back up plan in the event of technology failure: Technology glitches usually happen when least expected. Ensure that you have a back-up bridgeline ready, and a fast way to communicate with registrants if needed. Depending on your call size, call type (webinar/teleclass vs. group coaching) and your comfort levels, you may consider having a support person take care of the technology issues during your call.

2. Not working out a timeline for the call and sense of where you can "accordion": Having a sense of how the call may play out time-wise, and thinking through what areas can be shortened if time is running out, or lengthened if you are moving too quickly, is an important consideration for all group coaching programs, especially in the virtual domain.

3. Not doing a dry run - The first time you run a program, it will be important to do a dry run. Your dry run may be as simple as a mental "rehearsal" in your head, or as detailed as having a live pilot group move through the program, providing feedback and enabling you to see real-time how your program design, exercises and materials stand up.

4. Assuming everyone is engaged and focused - This assumption can be the kiss of death for a virtual program. It is critical to engage your groups throughout the call. Wandering eyes, and minds, are very common in the virtual domain. A general rule of thumb is to change the pace every 5-7 minutes in the virtual domain, whether you ask the group a question, call for a response, or have people write something down. Another important technique to support the focus is to regularly provide an overview of the process - where you are, what's been covered/discussed, and what's coming up next.

5. Not recognizing the different learning needs on the calls - It is very likely that within any group you are working with you will have a mix of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. Avoid the trap of thinking that everyone attending your virtual program is an auditory learner. What activities can you incorporate, or changes you can make as a facilitator, to meet the different learning needs of the group (i.e. visual learners, kinesthetic learners)? For different strategies, you may wish to check out a recent blog post I did on engaging your groups.

Next time you are running a virtual program, whether pure group coaching, or a webinar or teleclass, be proactive to avoid these No Nos."

These five areas haven't really changed in the last three years. They are still some of the top considerations I keep in min when designing and implementing group and team coaching work, webinars and other teleclasses.

What other tips would you recommend to those adding Virtual programming to their mix? For those with a copy of my first book, Effective Group Coaching, you will want to refer to chapter 6 - Powerful Delivery Options - In-person or Virtual for more tips, and if you have my latest book From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching, you will want to check out  Chapter 7 - Virtual Design and Delivery.

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC
Group Coaching Essentials | Potentials Realized

Upcoming programs include:
Mentor Coaching Group for ACC Renewals and ACC/PCC portfolio - Fridays 9-10am Eastern  April 25 to Late July.
Group Coaching Essentials (6.75 CCes) by phone: Fridays 10 - 11:15 am Eastern: May 9, 16, 23, 30 and June 13
Group and Team Coaching Intensive (15 CCEs) - Two days in person Huntsville, Muskoka, CANADA July 10-11. Early Bird rate on now! More info on the intensive at

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Connections in Group Coaching

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on building trust in a group and team coaching process. A critical part of
developing trust is creating opportunities for creating connection and creating shared agreements about how the group wants to operate. Shared agreements may include how communication will occur between sessions as well as more foundational group process issues such as confidentiality, starting and ending on time, "being present" and other ways the group wants to operate.

As I have written many times over the past few years, one of the most important things a coach can do when working with a team or group is create connection early on with each person. In a group coaching process this may entail pre-call 1-1s to get to know each person, answer any questions they have, and learn more specifically about what they are looking to get out of the process. Another critical area to explore is learning about their learning styles.

Incorporating new group members who may join during a second call/conversation is also an important issue to consider. Will you be allowing people to join the group once it has gotten started? If so, how will you connect them to the group?

Consider also that the one of the real benefits of any group or team coaching process is the peer learning and sharing that occurs. As team and group coaches we need to set a strong focus around process and connections early on, and once these are established, it's important to be able to fade out or move to the side to allow the group to connect and evolve. As this group ownership expands, continue to keep an eye on process issues (focus on goals, commitments, action, awareness, accountability) while encouraging group leadership and evolution.

Group connections may occur throughout your face to face work, as well as in between sessions. Whether by email, phone or through online platforms such as Journal Engine, it is important to remember that the value of the coaching process extends beyond the coaching conversation in the room or on the phone.

What ways do you want to encourage connection with, and between group members?  Many of the chapters in From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching, in particular Chapters 5, 8 and 10 along with the digital chapter on group coaching provide wonderful examples of how coaches are creating connection in their own work.

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC
Connect with us on Facebook for regular From One to Many Tips
Join us for an upcoming program - Group Coaching Practicum (starts April 11 at 12 noon ET by phone - 8CCEs) and the Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar (6.75 CCEs starts April 15)

New start date for Group Coaching Practicum - April 11 at 12 noon ET(8CCEs)

A quick note to let you know that the Group Coaching Practicum teleclass start date has been moved back by one week. It will now start on Friday April 11th at 12 noon ET/New York and will run until May 30th (no call April 18th b/c of Easter). The program is geared for coaches who want to take a deeper dive around group (and team) coaching issues and want to acquire some practice and see approaches IN ACTION! Each coach will be leading the group through a 25 minute group coaching conversation and will get feedback on their skills.

Two spaces are still open for the Spring program starting next week which is approved for 8 CCEs with the ICF. Click here to learn more and to reserve your spot.

The program is chock full of useful resources and tips for you to incorporate into your work right away. Cost: $450 US, which includes the six classes (coaches responsible for their own long distance charges) plus  a bonus 7th!, weekly module notes, and access to six 1-1 laser calls with me.

Hope that you will join us!

With best wishes,

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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Coaching Business Builder: Getting Clear on Where You Want to Focus

This week's post is a Coaching Business Builder post, geared for coaches who are growing their own business, or are considering starting their own business down the road. Later this week my business turns ten. Over the last month, as I have been approaching this milestone I have been very reflective on the past ten years, what's worked, what hasn't and what's next.

Research continues to show that some of the most successful entrepreneurs are those that take risks and aren't afraid to try things out, even in the face of failure or things that don't work so well. On a practical note, I think one of the biggest benefits to trying things out is getting clear on where you want to focus.

Here's a quick activity to try out:
On a plain piece of paper draw a large circle. Over the span of one to two minutes, write down everything that comes to mind about what you want to focus on. Your words might include:
  • clients, 
  • types of work, 
  • themes or topic areas you want to work around
  • what else?
 At the two minute mark, shift your attention to what's outside of the circle. Here, write down what you DO NOT want to focus on. Again, consider items like type of work you would say no to, themes/topics you do not want to work around. Give yourself two minutes to do this.

At the end of two minutes, keeping in mind what you have said no to, return back to the inner circle and add any other focus areas you do want to put attention around. Once you have captured all of these, grab a pen/pencil of another color and circle those you want to put immediate attention around. You may also want to get a second color and circle those in the medium term (whatever your medium term is), and a third color for those in the long term.

Returning back to your immediate attention areas, prioritize them. What do you want to focus on first? What are the next steps take? AND most importantly, WHY is this important/exciting/energizing for you?

I would invite you to also adapt this activity in the work that you do with clients. It's also a great activity to do with groups of business owners.


With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC
Group Coaching Essentials | Potentials Realized

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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Advanced Group Coaching Practicum starts Friday April 4 at 12 noon ET

Are you a coach looking for more hands-on practice with group coaching in a virtual environment? Join me later this week on Friday April 4th at 12 noon ET by phone as we start the Advanced Group Coaching Practicum. The program is approved for 8 CCEs with the ICF including 7.25 hours of core competencies.

The program includes 6 x 75 minute group calls, 5 individual 15 minute 1-1 calls with me, along with weekly module notes full of more ideas, templates, and resources to support you in your work, along with audio and video tips.

We take a deeper dive around group coaching topics including:

- Core skills and techniques in group coaching

- Tricky issues in group coaching

- Engagement, systems and support for group coaching

- Virtual programming best practices (webinars, teleseminars/teleclasses, group coaching by phone)

- Co-Facilitation and Co-Leadership

- Advanced Issues in Marketing Group Coaching

- Advanced Design Issues in Group Coaching

Each coach will have at least one opportunity to lead a 25 minute group coaching session as part of our class, and will receive written and verbal feedback on their skills. This will give you an opportunity to see different styles and approaches for group coaching at play. We will also hold our calls in different virtual environments so you get to experience them for yourself - bridgelines, skype, Google Hangouts etc.

Calls will be held on: Fridays from 12-1:15 pm Eastern on April 4, 11, 25 (bonus call with the larger alumni community), May 2, 9, 16 and 23.

Cost: $450 US or $450 CDN (plus HST)

Here's what past participants have said about the program:

"I highly recommend the Advanced Group Practicum with Jennifer. It provided me with tools and insights to be able to develop and implement my own group coaching program. The materials and content over delivered so the value enormous. The practicum was awesome and it gave me a safe space to try a group coaching and to receive feedback.  I would do it again!”
Cindy Hooker, CPCC, ACC,Gold Dog Consulting,
 "The Advanced Group Coaching class created an environment where I finally gained the courage to try it out! I was fully supported by the wonderful leadership of Jennifer Britton, equipped with great planning tools, a safe space to explore new technology, freedom for creativity, wonderful collaborative learning, and a very positive environment to grow ~ a true gift! Truly life changing for me :)"
- Coach Michelle Mullins

I hope that you will join us! Three spots are still open.

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC
Group Coaching Essentials | Potentials Realized
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Upcoming programs include:
Mentor Coaching Group for ACC Renewals and ACC/PCC portfolio - March 31 - June 30 (Mondays 10 - 11 am Eastern). Group calls March 31, April 7, 14, 28, May 12, June 2 and 30.
Group Coaching Essentials -
Tuesdays 12 - 1:15 pm Eastern/New York: April 15, 22, 29, May 13 and 20 (6.75 CCEs with the ICF)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Effective Group Coaching March Video: Virtual Program Tips

When I first started delivering virtual group programs nine years ago many people queried initially what value they could get by not being face to face. Today with the advent of skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, many have embraced virtual programming. With winters like this one which have stymied a lot of travel across North America for the last few months, I am pleased that virtual programming has been my mainstay in the winter months.

This month's Effective Group Coaching Video is on Virtual Program tips which you may find useful if you are running, or thinking of incorporating webinars, teleclasses, virtual retreats or other programs. It's a short four-and-a-half minute video which I hope you will enjoy! You can view it here.

Questions to Consider:
What are your next steps in making virtual programming a reality in your business? 
How could it shift your work landscape?
What would your clients enjoy (webinars, teleclasses...)?
What changes do you want to make next winter?

As always, I welcome your feedback and comments - please feel free to do so below.

Have a great week.

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC, CPCC
Potentials Realized |
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Phone: (416)996-8326