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)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Four Nuggets from the Group and Team Coaching Intensive

I held the Group and Team Coaching Intensive here in beautiful Muskoka late last week on Thursday and Friday. The Forth Annual Muskoka Intensive was two days full of conversation, learning and lots of practice with group and team coaching!

I wanted to share with you four quick nuggets from the program which I think you will find useful in your own work:

#1: Building our toolkit is essential - Powerful questions, resources and activities form the foundation of a rich program. Building our toolkit with coaching resources and approaches, as well as resources from related fields such as training, facilitation and even OD, helps to create even more masterful programs for the teams and groups we work with. Just as in the Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar, I opened up my toolkit for others to explore and consider how the resources could be adapted for their own work. You will also want to check out past posts from the blog on group and team coaching activities.

Exercise: Spend 15 minutes this week taking stock of what tools you have, or reviewing a resource you have not looked at in while.

#2: Engagement is key to the learning process. When working with teams and groups you will have a variety of learning styles at play, requiring a variety of approaches to coach from.

Questions to consider: As you consider your next event, what pace will work best? What does engagement mean for this group or team? What could it look like?

#3: Incorporate what we know about neuroscience to make a more robust program.   My undergraduate work more than 25 years ago was in the field of psychology at McGill, which at the time
was a leader in neuropysch. In those days, as a third year student I took a year long course on learning and the brain, which has shaped a large part of the work I have done over the years. It's interesting to come full circle and see how what was being discovered in those days has laid the foundation for even more robust links between learning and how our brains do work. All  of my future programs will include an even tighter link between group and team coaching and neuroscience.

Exercise: The latency and recency posit that we remember the start and end of things. We place a lot of emphais at the start of programming, but not so much at the end. What can you incorporate or do at the end of calls or programs to reinforce learning?

#4: In the world of group and team coaching it is all about quality not quantity. It's all about the conversation  and providing people with a rich place for exploration, dialogue, discovery and awareness. 

Questions to consider:  What is an optimum size for you? What can you do to create connection in your groups and teams?

If you missed last week's Group and Team Coaching Intensive, I hope that you will consider joining me on November 1-2 in Toronto for our next one. The program is approved for 15 CCEs, and early early bird pricing will start soon for the November session.

Have a great weekend,

Jennifer Britton
Join us for an upcoming program - the Mentor Coaching Group starts tomorrow - Monday July 14 at 11 am ET/New York by phone, and the Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar starts Thursday July 17 at 10 am Eastern/New  York (July 17, 24, 31, August 7 and 21 - 6.75 CCEs)

Next month on August 14-15 I will be hosting the Facilitation Skills Intensive, where we cover the
foundations of masterful group facilitation, along with several dozen facilitation tools. More info about the  Facilitation Skills Intensive program here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Team and Group Coaching: Four Approaches To Consider

Activities to consider in your next group coaching process
Activities form the shape of any group coaching experience. Conversation is not the only way people learn, and acquire insights. I continue to enjoy bringing in a variety of activities into any group coaching process including:

1. Visual Decks - I’ve written and have spoken on bringing in decks for a number of years. This spring we launched the ConversationSparker Cards™ and they have started to be used by facitiators and coaches around the world. You can learn more about them here. I also recorded a video earlier this year showcasing three other visual decks I have used over the years with groups and teams - JICT, the Coaching Game, and Visual Explorer

2. Journalling - Journalling can be a very powerful process for group members, whether it is our traditional paper based journal process, or a newer approach with online journalling. In my latest book, From One to Many: Best Practices for team and Group Coaching I spotlight the work of Journal Engine, which takes journalling into the online domain. For coaches who are working with groups who are more digitally inclined, a tool such as JournalEngine is has many advantages and extends the coaching conversation.

3. Experiential Processes - As someone who started out originally as an experiential educator more than 25 years ago, I continue to see great value in creating experiential processes for our group members to step into. For creative sparks to get the juices flowing about what this may look like, I will usually turn to sites such as (check out their Toolkit of Group games) and Business (for corporate group and team programs)

4. Assessments can also be an invaluable tool in our coaching work, and in fact, utilization of an assessment such as the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team or the Team Diagnostic from Team Coaching International may point to the focus areas of our work.
There are a wide range of assessments you may wish to be certified or credentialed in, depending on your clients needs , including:

At the individual level:
* DiSC - select from the Everything DiSC series of tools (which I use (and am a provider for coaches who want to offer this to their clients) due to the robust nature of the reports and variety of customized assessments such as the DiSC Workplace, DiSC Management, Work of Leaders, DiSC Sales), the Extended DiSC or one of many other Disc
* EQ I 2.0 - for those interested in, and exploring, Emotional Intelligence
* The Leadership Circle

At the team level:
* Team Diagnostic from Team Coaching International
*The Five Behaviors of a Team from Everything DiSC (based on the work of Patrick Lencioni)
What assessments do your clients find useful in the work you do?

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, MES, 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 (6.75 CCEs) starting July 17 or the Mentor Coaching Group - starting July 14

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

July Programs - Group Coaching Training and Mentor Coaching Group

Here we are already in July! A quick overview of our July program line-up for coaches looking for some professional deelopment. This month the following programs will start:

By Phone:
Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar - this five week program is geared to provide coaches with foundational or essential tools and ideas to design, market and implement your own group coaching work. The program is applicable for those who are planning virtual or in-person training, as well as public
or corporate groups. Topics include core skills for group coaching, activities and resources to bring in, best practices, logistics, core elements with design. Each week you receive weekly module notes (approx 15-20 pages), and have 1-1 laser calls (15 min) with me. Class size is generally 4-8 coaches to model the typcial group coaching size by phone.  The program is approved for 6.75 CCEs with the ICF.

The July session will be held on Thursdays from 10:15 - 11:30 am ET/New York on July 17, 24, 31, August 7 and 21.

A separate August session will be held on Wednesdays from 10 - 11:15 am ET on August 6, 13, 20, 27 and September 3.

Cost: $425 US or CDN plus HST. Click here for more information and to register.

Advanced Group Coaching Practicum - for experienced group coaches or those with interest in gaining more experience, the practicum is a six session program. We take a deeper dive around topics such as
tricky issues, engagement, learning styles, design and co-facilitation. Each week a different coach will lead the practicum element, taking us through a 25 minute group coaching conversation and receiving feedback. This program is approved for 8 CCEs with the ICF.
July session will be held on Thursdays from 12 - 1:15 pm ET/New York on July 17, 24, 31, August 7, 21 and 28
Another group will start in Mid-September or October - stay tuned for dates

Cost: $450  US or CDN plus HST . Click here for more information and register.

You can also bundle these two programs together and save $50 off your registration.

Mentor Coaching Group (for ACC Renewal and ACC/PCC Portfolio Routes):
This is a 10 hour mentor coaching group which fulfills the 10 hour mentor coaching requirement with the ICF. 7 hours are held in a small group setting (typcially 3-6 coaches per group) by phone and three hours are held individually with you over the three month program. We take a look at the eleven competencies of the
ICF, and also provide you with the opportunity to coach and receive feedback on your skills.
The July program will be held on Mondays from 11 - 12 noon Eastern/New York: with Group calls on July 14, 28, August 11, 18, Sept 8, 22,  Oct 6

An August program will start on Thursdays from 9-10 am Eastern with group calls onAugust 7, 21, Sept  11, 26, October 2, 16, November 6

Cost: $1000 for the 10 hour program. Payable in one or three monthly installments

Click here for more information and to register. 

In person training:
Group and Team Coaching Intensive - 15 CCEs (including 13 hours of core competencies)
I'll be hosting the 4th Annual Group and Team Coaching Intensive in beautiful Huntsville, Muskoka on Thursday and Friday July 10-11. This program provides you with two days of learning and practice with group and team coaching approaches. We cover the foundations of team and group coaching, design, activities, approaches, stretch
points, resources and activities, positioning and marketing, virtual programming along with many more topics. It will be of interest to coaches who want an intensive in-person learning experience. We will follow up with a group call one month after the event.

For more info please visit for photos from past programs, and more details about the content.

Four spaces are still open. Regular pricing $1095 CDN plus HST. Save $300 each when you register with a colleague.

Questions? Please reach out by phone or email to send me your questions.


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

PS - Some of you receive all our blog posts through a Feedblitz subscription which you signed up for, and have done so for up to the last 8 years. As we move into July this is a good opportunity to decide whether you enjoy receiving this subscription or if you would like to opt out. You can opt out at any time through your Feedblitz subscription.