Monday, January 24, 2011

Group Coaching By Phone - 4 Things to Keep in Mind

Throughout the Group Coaching Essentials program I often get questions from coaches who are designing their own group coaching programs which they are going to deliver by phone. There are some important considerations when designing and delivering phone based group coaching. Keep the following in mind next time you are creating your own phone based program:

1. Consider what is the best use of your phone based time. Really consider how much time you have with a group and if some of your exercises may be better as pre-work, so that you can have sufficient time for updates, coaching and discussion around the key themes you are working on each session. I continue to encourage coaches to consider in their design how they can create meaningful work for their group clients to engage in between sessions. Remember the impact of coaching really happens between the calls.
2. Check in with group members regularly - Research continues to point to the importance of engaging virtual audiences every 5-7 minutes. This may include asking the group to write down a response to a question, hearing from all or selected members of a group, or engaging the group in an exercise. You may wish to refer to some of the posts I've written about engaging your audiences here.

3. Carefully consider your numbers of participants - A purer group coaching approach leverages the smallness and intimacy of a group. To facilitate the flow and sharing amongst group members many coaches opt to keep the numbers in their phone based group sessions on the smaller side - say between 4-8 group members. Even for experienced coaches like myself, I prefer the intimacy and connectivity with these smaller groups.

4. Consider both the benefits and drawbacks of phone based programs and what adaptations you may need to make.
Phone based programs have the benefits of:
- Real time participation without the time and expense of travel (for you and participants)
- Ability to bring together groups across distance, time and geography
- Low, or no overhead cost

Some of the drawbacks can include
- Not being able to "see" each other
- The wandering eyes, and minds, of group members (i.e. multi-tasking)
- Technology challenges

These are just a few of the pros and cons to phone based programs. What this do you want to put into place to address these?

Have a terrific week!

Warm regards

Jennifer Britton, CPCC, PCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching:
Group Coaching Essentials program starts on Jan 25, Feb 8 and 17 (6.75 CCEs with the ICF)
Group Coaching Intensive - Toronto: April 2-3, 2011

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