Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Selecting A Group Exercise - Questions To Consider

I often get asked "What coaching tool or exercise should I use in my group program?". Questions, discussion and exercises form the backbone of any group coaching program, as well as workshops and retreats.

In my book, Effective Group Coaching, I outline the following 11 questions to consider when selecting your next exercise:

1.What is the theme you are currently working around (i.e. balance, leadership, time management?)

2. What stage of development is the group in? (Refer to Group Process In Chapter 2 of the book).

3. What does the group need at this stage? (Closure, Celebration, Energizing, Check Point?)

4. What is the message/learning you want to create for the exercise?
5. What's the tempo that will work for the group?
6. How will this exercise support different learning styles?
7. How will the exercise compliment other exercises - in terms of theme/learning styles?
8. What risks are associated with this exercise?
9. When would this exercise be most suited in terms of placement - i.e. icebreaker, closure exercises etc?
10. What else does this exercise need as a compliment?
11. What questions should follow or be part of this exercise to allow the group to learn the most from it?

As you move forward with the design of your next program, consider how these questions can support you and your group.

Have a great week,


Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC

Group Coaching Essentials - the next ICF CCE approved program (6.75 hrs) begins on August 11th (Thursdays 10:30 - 11:45 am ET)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Coaching Business Builder - 1% Rule

Coaching Business Builder Tip – The 1% Rule

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of overwhelm. For the last decade I’ve worked with businesses globally in the start up and growth phases. Especailly as a solopreneur working by yourself it may become easy to think that you have to do everything today. What happens when we lose the focus? Very diffuse energy.

I like to talk about the 1% rule. Think about one of the key areas you would like to take some focused action on in your business, which you feel is important at the moment.

Consider what you would like to have accomplished in this area by August 31st. Write it down.

Now think about what the 1% step would be to move you towards this goal? What is that one step you could take today, right now, to move you forward towards the goal. Write it down and schedule it in your calendar for a specific timeslot today.

Here’s an example – I want to have a new blog up and running by August 31st.

Today’s 1% may be to spend 10-15 minutes brainstorming/MindMapping on all of your ideas. Tomorrow’s 1% may be register a blog site. The following day’s 1% may be to start drafting an article.

The 1% rule can be really helpful in chunking things down to more manageable tasks, rather than spinning our wheels trying to get our heads around huge activities. Over time the daily 1% adds up.

Ask yourself:

Where would the 1% rule benefit your business right now?

What 1% project would you want to take on?

What does your 1% look like today?

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC

Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)

Host of the Group Coaching Essentials program (6.75 CCEs) and the Group Coaching Intensive (15 hours)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One Day of Action- Join Me Tuesday July 26th

Join me next Tuesday for the Group Program Virtual Retreat.

Have you got an idea for a group program and could benefit from a day to take action on your ideas? Join me next Tuesday July 26th from 10-4 pm (Eastern) by phone for the 6 our Group Program Virtual Retreat Intensive. The day is focused on TAKING ACTION on your group program ideas. Put on your running shoes, grab your computer or pen and get ready to create!

Each hour we will be focusing on a different component which makes group programs successful (design, marketing, exercises). We will spend 15 minutes on the phone as a small group, with the remaining 45 minutes of each hour spent working offline in our own offices following structured activities to help you move from vision to skeleton over the course of the day.

The program is ideal for coaches, trainers or others working on a new group program – workshop, retreat, teleclass, webinar or group coaching program.

As part of your registration you’ll receive a manual to follow throughout the day, which includes more than a dozen tools and templates. I’ll also be available at selected periods throughout the day for 1-1 questions.

Click here for more information and to register! Cost: $175 US.

Participants are responsible for their own long-distance charges to connect to the bridgeline.

Here’s what past participants have said about the process:

"Jennifer's program gave me the vision and confidence to develop virtual programs for my clients..Thank you Jennifer, for breaking down the process into doable steps" - Marsha Barnosky

The timing and the content that I received from you in the Group Program Virtual Intensive was invaluable. The class was structured so that we would walk away with a working personalized model ready for implementation. You transformed the concepts into easily implementable steps that made it seem effortless. Had I not taken this course, I would not have developed the confidence to feel like I could really make it happen. You provided the guidance for specific areas that were challenging participants from technology and marketing to setting up payment systems on-line. You are truly a gifted teacher.
Jeanne Pochily – Women’s Wellness and Life Coach

Hope to have you join me next week!

Warm regards

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)
Host of the Effective Group Coaching teleseminar program (6.75 CCEs) and the Group Coaching Intensive (15 hours of in person training)
Phone: 416.996.8326
Email: info{at}potentialsrealized{dot}com

Group Facilitation Tip - Switch It Up

If you’ve been coaching or facilitating for a while you may notice that you have a tendency to revert to the same old, same old. Whether it’s using the same old exercises, or using the same old tricks, today’s post is an encouragement to shake it up a little, and try something different.

Consider what your ruts are (with respect to design, marketing or implementation).

  1. What biases do you hold as a coach or facilitator?
  2. What’s really comfortable for you? What would stretch you?
  3. Where do you recycle the “same old, same old”

Here are 5 quick ideas to perhaps spark you to switch things up, next time:

- Try a different introductory or closure exercise – refer to sites like Wilderdom.com or BusinessBalls.com for some new ideas

- Take note of what type of learners you tend to focus your delivery approach to. Is this representative of the groups you work with? What can you do to bring in a more kinesthetic approach to your exercises? A more auditory or visual approach?

- Research a new tool you could bring in to stimulate discussion, exploration or action for your group members. Sites like CoachingToys.com or TrainersWarehouse.com may spark some new ideas for you.

- Look around at others for some new innovative marketing ideas – maybe it’s time to add some video, start that blog, or start tweeting

- Take a look at what type of feedback you are getting. What would participants/clients like more of from you?

What’s going to be the one area you want to switch up as you look to your fall programming?

Have a great week!

Warm regards


Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC

Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Common Challenges for New Group Coaches

Coaches new to group coaching often ask, where might I face some challenges? The following are some key areas to keep an eye on as you prepare to run your first (or second, or twentieth program). While these may be more common to new group coaches, I would assert that they are issues we should all keep an eye on regardless of experience level:

1. Coaching Skills and Approaches - Remember that group coaching is grounded in core coaching competencies. Group Coaching is not about being an expert and leading a workshop. What is the ideal mix of coaching and information for your group? You may want to reference what I've written about the Group Program Continuum in my book Effective Group Coaching which goes more in-depth with the differences and similarities between group coaching, workshops and retreats).

2. Remembering the power of accountability - Coaching is different as a profession than training and facilitation, with a heavier emphasis on action and accountability (reference the 2009 ICF Global Coaching Survey). What types of field work are you creating for your group members? What coaching requests or challenges are you making? What inquiries are you leaving the group, or members of the group with.

3. Trying to Fit in Too Much - For years I've talked about the Group Coaching Best Practice of "Less is More". Participants/clients benefit from dialogue, sharing and reflection during a group coaching process. What topics or content can be moved into another session, or moved into a takeaway or homework assignment.

4. Not placing enough emphasis on building trust and respect within the group - Building Trust and Intimacy is one of the core coaching competencies of the ICF. Spend sufficient time in the first group coaching session for members to get to know each other. You may also want to consider a pre-program call to start establishing a relationship with group members individually.

5. Forgetting to Evaluate - Coaching as a profession places emphasis on "Holding a client's agenda" or focusing on the issues that are important to the group. Evaluation, at the end of each session, and throughout a program is critical to get feedback on the themes you are working around, the approach, the pace and rhythm of the work. Wherever possible build in opportunities for the group to increasingly co-create the program with you.

6. Recognizing that a Group Process is Unfolding - For groups that are more intensive in terms of program length or delivery, it is possible that Tuckman's Stages of Group Development will be emerging. Take a look at previous blog posts to see what I've said about group process. I'll also be addressing the issue of group dynamics in Group Coaching next month at the Group Coaching SIG (August 4th).

This list is by no means exhaustive. What other challenges do you do see as common for coaches new to group coaching? Feel free to comment below.

Have a great week, and looking forward to meeting several of you in person on Thursday and Friday as I run the Group Coaching Intensive in Huntsville. Still one more spot open!

Warm regards

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)
Phone: (416)996-TEAM (8326)
Email: info{at}potentialsrealized{dot}com
Next Group Coaching Essentials program begins tomorrow, Wednesday July 13th (Wed 10:30-11:45am Eastern: July 13, 20, 27, August 3 and 10). 6.75 ICF CCEs. A couple spots still open!

2011 Best Coaching Blogs - Made it to Round 2

The Group Coaching Ins and Outs blog has made it to round 2 of the 2011 Best Coaching Blogs in the School of Coaching Mastery Contest. If you enjoy the blog, I'd love you to take a moment and click on over, and vote, and comment about the blog at the contest. You can access the contest here. You should be able to find us on page 2 under "Group Coaching Ins and Outs blog". You can vote, and comment.

Thanks in advance! Let's see if we can make it to round 3, which will be announced next week.

Warm regards

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)

Friday, July 08, 2011

Four Summer Programs for Coaches

Summer is a popular time to focus on your own learning and growth, as well as get ready for your own launches of new programming for the fall.

Here are four upcoming programs I am offering which may be of interest to you:

Group Coaching Essentials (accredited for 6.75 CCEs with the ICF) Upcoming Programs start:
July 2011:
Wednesdays 10:30 -11:45 am Eastern/New York/Toronto:

July 13, 20, 27, August 3, and 10, 2011
August 2011:
Thursdays 10:30 - 11:45 am Eastern
August 4, 11, 18, 25 and September 1, 2011

Each month I work with a small group of coaches (maximum 6-8) in the Group Coaching Essentials program. The program covers tools, exercises and resources to support coaches with the design, marketing and implementation of their own group coaching programs. We look at both in person and virtual (web and phone) based programs, as well as tips for groups from the general public and organizations. The program includes 5 x 75 minute calls, access to lazer/laser(15 minute) 1-1 calls with me (at no additional cost), and an 80 page manual (delivered in weekly modules). Benefit from the accountability and structure of the program to get your own group coaching program going! Note that pricing will increase to $375 US and CDN for programs starting in September.

"I love programs that give you lots of useable takeaways. By that, I mean that I can use the materials I receive immediately in my business. The Group Coaching Essentials program gave me just that. Not only has it jump started my group coaching offerings, it will pay for itself many times over in the additional revenue I will generate."

Nan O'Connor, MCC, http://www.nanoconnor.com

Click here for more information and to reserve your spot today!

Group Coaching Intensive – Huntsville, Ontario – July 14-15, 2011

Accredited for 15 ICF CCES – Two spots open!

The Group Coaching Intensive is a two day in-person group coaching training program focuses on providing coaches with both knowledge and content as well as practice, and feedback, on their group coaching skills. The course covers core group coaching skills, along with practical tips and tools for designing, running and marketing your own programs. We also cover pricing, contracting and exercises for public and corporate programs. Both new and experienced coaches can benefit from this program, as can alumni of the Group Coaching Essentials program.

Participants will leave the program with tools, resources, skills and practice in group coaching, covering key topics including core skills, tricky issues, best practices, structure, exercises/tools, pricing, and group process for group coaching.

The program includes:

  • 15 hours of instruction and contact in an in-person environment (15 ICF CCES - 13 hrs Core Competencies, 2 hrs Business Development)
  • The Group Coaching Intensive Manual
  • A Group Coaching Toolbox (yes! your own physical toolbox of program tools and resources)
  • A copy of the Effective Group Coaching book
  • A follow up call with Jenn and the group in August/September
  • light lunch served both days

Venue: Holiday Inn Huntsville (Muskoka).
Hours: Thursday July 14 (9-6), Friday July 15 (8:30 – 4:30)
Pricing $950 CDN plus HST (total $1073.50). If you register with a colleague save $150 each.
Click here to learn more, or call me directly at (416)996-8326 to grab the remaining spots. We have room for 1-2 more coaches.

Group Program Virtual Retreat - Tuesday July 26 - 10 - 4 pm Eastern (By Phone_:
A day to focus and take action on your group program ideas!
Geared for professionals who want to focus and take action on the planning, design and marketing of an upcoming group program (workshop/retreat/teleseminar/group coaching). The retreat includes 6 hours of structured individual exercises, a manual and access to me throughout the course of the program. We willl be meeting for 15 minutes of each hour as a group, with each hour focusing on a different component of your group program success!

Exercises and support focus on program design, marketing and exercises so that you've got a skeleton by the end of our time together. Your registration includes the 6 hours of structured individual and group exercises, th Virtual Retreat manual which includes useful templates to take away, and access for individual conversation with me throughout the day. Participants are responsible for their own long distance charges to connect to the bridgeline.
Cost: $175 US or CDN (plus HST). Click here for more info or register for the July Virtual Retreat

Mentor Coaching Group (including ACC Renewals)

August 12 - November 18, 2011 (Fridays 12 - 1 pm Eastern)

The program focuses on supporting coaches in enhancing their core coaching competencies. This mentor coaching group program meets the requirements of the ICF for ACC renewals for mentor coaching, as well as those pursing their ACC and PCC portfolio routes.

Coaches participate in 7x 1 hour group calls over the 3 month period, and undertake 3 x 1 hour individual mentor coaching calls with me. Each call looks at a different ICF core coaching competency. Coaches will have the opportunity to practice and receive feedback on their coaching skills.

Each lesson is accompanied by a coaching tool or template I use in my business, along with a business tip to support your own business development.

The program meets the 10 hour requirement of mentor coaching for ICF re-certification, and portfolio routes. Space is limited to 4-6 coaches per group.

Group Calls will be held on: August 12, 19, 26, September 9, October 21, 28 and November 18, 2011. Individual coaching sessions will be held monthly in Aug, September & October.

Note: Another group will start in mid-September and run through mid-December as well.

Cost: $1000 US which can be paid in one, two or three installments

Click here for more information and to reserve your spot in the group starting in mid-August.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at (416)996-8326 or by email at info{at}potentialsrealized{dot}com. I look forward to connecting with you.

Warm regards

Jennifer Britton, CPCC, PCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley 2010)
Phone: (416) 996-8326

Email: info{at}potentialsrealized{dot}com

Group Coaching Skills for the Virtual Environment

Additional Skills for the Virtual Environment

Copyright 2011 - Jennifer Britton, All Rights Reserved.

Many coaches enjoy the flexibility of virtual programming, whether delivering their programs by teleconference, videoconference, or leveraging webinars for more content related delivery. For the last 6 out of 7 years of my business, a majority of my work has been virtual, whether working one-on-one, with groups or teams.

In addition to core coaching skills (refer to the ICF Core Coaching Competencies for example), coaches who are looking to foray into the virtual realm will want to consider the following enhanced skills:

Listening – to what is being said, and NOT being said

Building Trust at the start of the program (and even before the program starts)

Creating Connection amongst group members

Ensuring engagement and involvement of participants (Without the standard visual cues we rely on, it may be necessary to engage your group members with questions, activities, discussion much more frequently)

Dealing with difficult issues

Evaluation – taking the pulse of the group and getting feedback on takeaways and changes at the end of each call

Call Management Issues – ensuring the connection is clear, muting as needed, roll call, handling questions, handling recordings etc.

Ask yourself:

What is your current level of skill in these areas?

What is your current level of confidence in these areas?

What are your strengths that you can lean into?

What is the one real growth area for you? What specific action steps could you take to enhance your skill and/or confidence in this area?

Who can you tap into/rely on to support you in these areas?

A wonderful resource I recommend for coaches to look into for more information about virtual learning is Cindy Huggett’s Virtual Training Basics (ASTD Press, 2010).

Have a wonderful weekend,


Jennifer Britton, CPCC, PCC, CPT

Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)


Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Power of a Metaphor

Metaphors show up frequently in any coaching process, whether you are working with individuals, teams and groups. I often get asked by coaches as to how to work with metaphors in a team or group coaching context.

Metaphors, such as, "powerful as a firecracker", "fast like a rapid", "slow like a lazy bend on a river", "captain of the ship" can be a rich area for groups and teams to discover/explore in the coaching realm.

As a coach take note of the metaphors which show up within your group context. They may emerge as themes through the course of conversation, or as a result of an actual coaching exercise (i.e. vision for a team or group).

In your next group coaching process, consider the following:

1. What metaphors are showing up in speech of the group?
2. What are you noticing about the themes that are emerging?
3. How might a metaphor bond the group together (i.e. if you are hearing about ships and roles on it, how does this support the group)?
4. Is there a metaphor that would illustrate what you are noticing about the group/team process?
5. Is there a metaphor for the group to take forward to their work/life this week?

What are some of the common metaphors you have seen?

As always, please feel free to comment below!

Warm regards

Jennifer Britton
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)
Upcoming events include the ICF Accredited CCE programs: Group Coaching Intensive - July 14 -15 in Huntsville, Canada (15 CCEs - 1 spot left) and the Group Coaching Essentials program (by phone - starting July 13th (Wednesdays 10:30 - 11:45 am ET: July 13, 20, 27, August 3 and 10, 2011:6.75 CCEs, 3 spots open)