A coaching group is a group of individuals who meet to learn about different aspects of a subject and offer support to each other. One of the best things about a coaching group is the variety of perspectives that come with the members. Often, there are completely new ideas that would not have been brought forth with only one or two persons.

Sometimes, however, there is the potential for conflict due to differences in opinions, personalities and perspectives. There are steps that you can take to manage the group dynamics and enable them to foster the support and new ideas that you want to have in your group.

1. Set up agreements and code of conduct ahead of time.

Provide all participants with a code of conduct or standards of participation prior to the first call. By doing this, you give participants time to digest the standards and also to jot down any questions they may have. Go through the code of conduct on the very first call, and have each member of the group agree to each aspect of the standards. If there are questions or if there are changes that members want to make, great! The standards are there to promote trust in the group.

2. Have a basic structure for your group.

This does not mean a script or an outline of topics, but a general way of facilitating the group session. The structure helps create a “safe island” for the group, where individuals know what is coming next each time. For example, at the beginning of the call/session, you can have a “connect”, where group members settle down, quiet their minds for the session and bond with each other on the call. The check-in may come next, with members of the group reporting on what their week was like, updating the group on what actions they were able to follow through on (if there were commitments made the previous week). At the end of the call, the facilitator may ask members to do certain tasks that will help them move closer to achieving their stated goal.

3. Checking in

Recognize that not everyone may want to participate in every session. Honor that and allow the people who want to participate to do so. If there are some who were not able to share one week because of time constraints but who wanted to share, then you may want to have them check in first in the next session. Encourage the members of the group to take responsibility for sharing when they want to do so. Alternatively, if you are coaching a fairly large group where there is more of a chance that not everyone will be able to check in every week, you may want to assign a certain segment of the group specific check in sessions, e.g. every other session.

4. Trust yourself.

As a coach, your intuition is invaluable. Above all, be a good listener and pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues. If, for example, you have an outline for a discussion but you sense that people just need to be listened to and supported, listen and ask the group to help you support those members. If during the check in time, no one wants to check in, it may be time to move on to coaching someone or doing some training. There is no right way to conduct a group. With practice, you will find yourself more at ease.

Author's Bio: 

Karen A. Cappello, PCC, CLC is a mentor coach, coach trainer, professional certified coach, and motivational speaker. She mentors new coaches, and supports them in utilizing spiritual principles to develop their coaching practices with ease and joy. She also works with executives and entrepreneurs to promote beneficial business outcomes. In her first month of her coaching practice, she had eight paying clients. In less than one year, she served over 30 clients and logged almost 300 coaching hours. She also obtained her Professional Certified Coach designation after only two years of coaching. To learn more about Karen, visit: www.karencappello.com.