If you are in the world of personal growth, self-development and team leadership then it’s hard to get away from the topic of coaching. Coaching is a powerful way to help you and your team reach your potential – but with individual, team and group coaching to choose from, which will work for you?
WHAT IS INDIVIDUAL COACHING?
When people talk about coaching, they are usually referring to individual or 1:1 coaching. This is where a you and a coach meet in private to engage in a collaborative and non-directive conversation. As the client, you bring a topic to the table; a challenge to overcome, a goal to meet, and aspect of identity or thought pattern to explore. The coach uses their skills of active listening and non-judgement to help you express your thoughts and feelings. Then the coach asks insightful or challenging questions to help you to gain new perspectives, be accountable and / or develop an action plan going forwards.
The beauty of the coaching relationship is that the coach creates a safe and yet challenging container for you to find your own answers and forge your own path forwards.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF INDIVIDUAL COACHING?
Working in a one to one way allows you to enjoy the following benefits:
- Personal agenda – the conversation is dedicated to whatever you and your coach agree. Work progression, relationships, wellbeing – or maybe a different topic each week.
- Tailored content – your coach may bring in tools or models that come to mind as being useful in the moment to help support your conversation.
- Bonding and trust – over the sessions, working in a 1:1 way means that your coach gets to know your communication style, values and needs in depth to create safety and ease.
- Vulnerability – the trust that forms over time also allows you to tackle deeper and more core subjects that ultimately lead to high impact results.
- Accountability – when you set yourself goals or next steps, you know that your coach will be checking on you next session and there is no one to hide behind.
- Flexible timings – coaching sessions are booked at a mutually convenient time, making it easy and flexible for you to fit sessions around your lifestyle.
The main drawback of individual coaching over working in a group is that a dedicated individual service usually costs more per hour than group coaching.
WHAT IS GROUP COACHING?
Group coaching usually brings together 4-20 (though less than 12 is best) individuals who are interested in discussing the same goal or topic area. The group members may come from similar or totally different backgrounds. For example:
- HR professionals from different companies meeting for coaching on imposter syndrome
- Graduates from the same university getting coaching on their emerging professional skills plans
- Completely unrelated individuals meeting for coaching on work life balance
Where individuals have all come from the same organisation (or even team) this would be described as team coaching (see below).
The coach still uses the same fundamental principles of good listening, non-judgement and excellent questioning to provoke thinking. However, in group coaching, the coach also has to facilitate the discussion between group members and may provide some teaching content (time management skills) or shared prompts (where do you see yourself in a year?) for the group to work on. The group members all work together and take turns to share insights, support the common goal or theme and eventually agree on shared or individual actions.
WHAT IS TEAM COACHING?
Team coaching is a form of group coaching where all members of the group are from the same team or organisation. This usually involves a very specific goal or purpose that serves the organisational outcomes. E.g.
- How can we improve our customer experience?
- How does our brand identity impact our customers?
- How can we diversify our hiring process?
- Where do we see our business / team in 3 years?
There is usually less room to bring in personal topics.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GROUP COACHING?
Working in a purposeful and well facilitated group leads to the following benefits:
- Rich ideas – having a number of different people in the room means that you have access to a range of ideas that you may not have generated on your own.
- Varied perspectives – other group members may think in a different way and have other lived experiences which help you to see a problem or course of action differently.
- Collaboration & peer support – working together on a shared goal develops your communication and collaboration skills as well as giving you a network of people you can go to for support outside of the coaching sessions.
- Sense of belonging – feeling part of a group of individuals who listen and care
- Less pressuring – working in a group setting means there is less focus on you doing all of the thinking with the coach. Group members can take turns and share the load.
- Group accountability – when you agree actions and next steps, you know that all of the other group members are rotting for you and relying on you to complete them.
The main challenges of working in a group are finding a regular, fixed time for everyone to meet, trying to make sure all group members needs are met each session (which gets harder the bigger the group size) and if a group is not well facilitated (does an outspoken member talk over others?)
GROUP COACHING VS INDIVIDUAL COACHING – WHICH WILL WORK FOR YOU?
The type of coaching that will work for you depends on your style and the kind of outcome you want to achieve.
You may prefer individual coaching if:
- Your coaching topic is personal and you don’t wish to share in a group
- You want your coach to be fully dedicated to your needs
- You find it harder to open up in group settings
- Your coaching topic spans a number of life areas (work, family, identity, health etc)
- You are comfortable and willing to generate your own ideas and action plans with your coaches support
You may prefer group coaching if:
- You thrive in social environments
- Your topic area or goal is shared by other people in a coaching group (managing your time, moving jobs, becoming a parent)
- Your topic area or goal is general enough for a larger group discussion
- You want to hear other people’s ideas and perspectives
- You want to develop your own listening, collaboration and questioning skills
If you want to explore how individual or group coaching could help you to reach your potential then book in a FREE coaching consultation with The Self Leadership Initiative founder, Gemma Perkins