When you think of life coaching, you probably think of a one-on-one meeting with a client in person or over videoconferencing software. However, you can also coach your clients in groups.
Group coaching offers several important benefits for life coaches and clients alike. But you need to know how to implement group coaching effectively and safely for it to be maximally advantageous. Let’s take a closer look.
Benefits for Life Coaches
Life coaches can benefit heavily from providing group coaching sessions. For example, when you offer group coaching sessions, you’ll see:
- Much greater reach and impact from your services. After all, when you provide five people with advice about their business choices or personal struggles, you’ve helped five people in an hour instead of just one! Not only is that good by itself, but it will also help your personal brand’s reputation spread much faster
- More efficient use of your time and resources. Again, providing key life coaching services to several clients at the same time could allow you to fit more clients into a working day. That’s more money in your pocket and more satisfied clients overall
- Extra opportunities for networking and collaboration. If you coach with more than one person – for instance, you partner with another life coaching the same niche – you and that fellow life coach can potentially partner up for more gigs later down the road
Benefits for Clients
Clients also benefit from group coaching in some circumstances. For instance:
- Clients get extra peer support and accountability. When a life coach assigns a tough challenge or exercise, having peers in the same group with a client makes them more likely to follow through
- Clients can learn from each other’s experiences
- Clients often benefit from a reduced group rate, so group coaching is sometimes more cost-effective
In many cases, clients looking for coaching in specialized niches – such as career coaching, parenting coaching, etc. – can benefit from group coaching more than others. For instance, say you want to get together to host a parenting coaching session. Most of the parents in the group won’t need a deep dive into their life experiences: they need practical tips on how to parent more effectively. You can easily deliver that advice to a group and save everyone time and money simultaneously.
Key Elements of Effective Group Coaching
Effective, supportive group coaching is contingent on you setting up and using a few major strategies and elements.
Always Establish a Safe, Supportive Environment
First – and most important – you need to make sure the group coaching environment is safe and supportive for everyone involved. The best way to do that is often to use technology, like videoconferencing software and virtual platforms, to get everyone together even if they are scattered around the globe.
For example, you can set up a group life coaching session with a shared video meeting room. Everyone can meet, see each other “face-to-face,” and benefit from your advice at the same time. Many of the best videoconferencing platforms even give you tools to help everyone interact and take part in group discussions or exercises.
But no matter where your group coaching session takes place, outline important rules, like:
- Everyone gets a chance to speak
- No one talks over anyone else
- The coaching session is a safe space free from judgment
Without a safe setting, your life coaching clients might not open up and benefit from the advice you have to give. If someone violates the rules and makes the environment feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you need to step up and remove that person from the session. Otherwise, everyone else might consider not returning for your next life coaching opportunity.
Facilitate and Encourage Group Interactions
One of the main advantages of group coaching is that your clients will be able to support each other. But that only works if they interact! Therefore, as the life coach at the head of the session, you need to facilitate and encourage group interactions whenever you can.
Make everyone feel comfortable and invite people to strike up friendships or chat on the side. Give everyone a chance to speak to each other one-on-one, too, if they ask for it.
Adapt Coaching Techniques for Group Settings
Lastly, remember that you will usually need to adapt your tried-and-true coaching techniques for group settings.
Imagine that you set up a group coaching session for several career go-getters who nonetheless need to know where to focus their professional talents. Instead of diving into each client’s personal wants and dreams, you might host an exercise where you ask everyone to write down (in person or online) their best skills or more satisfying work.
Then, instead of you coming up with job ideas yourself, you might invite everyone to share. If you’re lucky, several of your clients will come up with excellent job ideas for each other based on their unique experiences! This is just one example of how you can and should use unique, group-oriented coaching strategies and exercises instead of those focused on individuals.
Challenges of Group Coaching
Even though group coaching can be highly effective, it also comes with some unique challenges.
For example, in a group coaching environment, you’ll have to manage many more diverse needs and client expectations. Juggling all those expectations can be tough – for instance, what if one client is looking for a more reserved, professional atmosphere, and another client wants something more open and free? You’ll have to balance the two needs to be successful.
Furthermore, you as the life coach need to still ensure that each client gets individual attention and makes individual progress. That could be a tall order at the beginning. But as you get more experience in a group coaching environment, you’ll become more adept at ensuring everyone gets what they need.
In the end, group coaching may or may not be the perfect solution for your clients. You’ll have to make a judgment call as to whether it will be an effective, safe way to provide stellar life coaching services. If you do decide to undertake group coaching, keep the above tips in mind!