Co-founders of Empower World
Marie: Hello and welcome to Empower World Coaching and Leadership Podcast Marie Quigley here with my business partner on the other side of the world.
Jeanine: Jeanine bailey.
Marie: Hi Jeanine. How you doing?
Jeanine: Yes I am very well. I'm looking forward to seeing you in a few days. Currently in Australia where things are not so great in terms of bush-fires and yeah it's been a really difficult couple of weeks. Although I'm not directly involved in what's happening I am indirectly involved and it is heartbreaking. But I'm safe where I am and so I'm thankful for that and trying to do my best to be able to contribute somehow some way in various different forms to support the bush-fire crisis over here.
Marie: Yeah it is devastating and it's wonderful to see so many people reaching out to help Australia; Australians and the rest of the world coming together to try and make a difference. I can't remember who said it but they said when a disaster happens always look for the helpers. There are always helpers out there so it's inspiring to see what people are doing.
Jeanine: It really, it really is the generosity of people not only here but around the world has been absolutely incredible and I feel very emotional as I'm talking about this right now as i've been watching it. I've never watched the TV so much in my life. I'm not a TV watcher but i've been glued with the updates and it's just absolutely amazing and a recent story that I saw. I don't know if you saw it as well Marie but the people in Papua New Guinea and bringing out a wheelbarrow to collect money from their communities. I just thought wow it really is astonishing. No matter what size the donation is, I believe it's truly felt by everyone here in Australia. It's incredible and I truly hope we don't have to go through anything like this again. I hope that something like this really makes a difference to how we govern ourselves and ensure that things are much more ecological and sustainable going forward. That's my hope.
Marie: I'm with you on that Jeanine. Thanks for sharing that. You've got first-hand experience of what it's like and I know it's hard enough from the other side of the world watching the horrific images particularly of the animals. It's really hard to see that. So let's make it hopefully a better, kinder and more loving world.
Jeanine: Yeah absolutely and having lost everything I’ve owned in a fire myself not a bush-fire but a truck fire. I know that people can, of course if they survive the bush-fires, can get back up and move forward and move forward in a powerful way. But as you say it's the animals. That's the difficult thing to watch. So with that again I want to thank everyone out there that's been supporting Australia and I'm sure everyone is. Let's move into a podcast.
Marie: Yes. And it is a different topic. So it requires a different energy to move into this topic that we think might be useful for coaches and leaders out there is a lot of what coaches are asking questions about group coaching and that's been on our forums and some of the questions our coaches have written in for us. And we do have an advanced training program that we specifically look at group coaching. We thought it might be useful to support those who haven't been able to attend the program yet to give some tips and indications of how to conduct an effective group coaching program.
Jeanine: Yes. So it's interesting how its become such a topic that's really raised itself up recently. So we wanted to share, as Marie said, some tips and clues to how you can conduct group coaching. Particularly if you are a new coach and you haven't done group coaching before or facilitated a group. And one of the things that we always share in across much of our work if not all of our work is the importance of setting those ways of working with the group. So not only you as a coach what are your requirements in terms of how you work and what are your boundaries, what you will do and what you won't do but clearly very importantly checking in with the group. What is it that they want in terms of their ways of working? What will support them? What will set them up for success? What are their boundaries? And again, what will they do and what won't they do? Particularly when it comes to those things that can bring up emotions.
Marie: Yes. And if we take a step back just before we do the ways of working it might be useful to think about: you want to do this group coaching or you're doing it in organizations depending whether it's individual or whether it's in organizations, that you are bringing a group of people together for generally a commonality. So, the difference between group coaching and individual coaching is that there'll be a group of people working on a theme or topic. So, it's the understanding why you're bringing them together in the first place so that you can set up effective ways of working to ensure that. And even before you bring those people together in a room perhaps as some pre-work to do to set up how you're going to work together what is it that people want to get out of the group coaching program. What are the topics that are going to be looked at as you work towards each other? Perhaps as some pre-work to do before everybody's sitting in the room together. We really encourage that pre-work and that thoughtful process to happen before you bring people together in the room.
Jeanine: Yeah that's a really great point Marie. There has to be a purpose, a reason, for bringing a group together. And sometimes that reason is set by you, particularly if you're doing a public program. Or sometimes it's set by the organization. They've got a particular topic that they want you to work with them on. Or potentially they're not sure of the topic themselves. And so it's having a conversation with the organization to work out what are the perhaps the challenges or the opportunities that are coming up for the group and working with the organization to identify what is the topic. What is it that you're going to focus on in this facilitation or this group workshop because like a one to one coaching conversation, it's a conversation with purpose. There is a desired outcome. So it's either getting clear about that for yourself, If it's your own driven workshop or again, working with the organization to support them to understand what is it that they want participants to walk away with and then perhaps from that going backwards and identifying what the topic is.
Marie: Yeah and some subject some potential topics could be big topics like life purpose. It could be smaller topics like building your confidence. It could be leadership development and the process like coaching one to one happens over a period of time. So it's coming together for coaching sessions of an hour or 90 minutes or whatever you decide and in between they'll still be the process of self-development that you're working on these topics.
Jeanine: Yes, and as you say, it could be a program Marie of group coaching or perhaps it's a one off type of exercise. And as you know Marie, we would always recommend to any client that we meet. If they are looking for a one off topic that there is a follow up to support with any outcomes from the workshop. Because again with group coaching you want to support the people that you're working with to identify what's the new actions? What are the new commitments, new intentions, new behaviors that we want to put in place that will support us with whatever the topic was for the session? So it's something that we always do recommend that there is some sort of follow up to again support the group to create their outcomes because, as you mentioned Marie, it's a process, change is a process that often requires that follow up.
Marie: It does and I think that leads nicely on to you know the benefits of group coaching first versus individual coaching. Group coaching has a different dynamic than individuals because you've got a whole system involved and different relationships that you're looking at and as a coach you're still very silent in this in compared to hearing your voice you've still got the 80 20 rule that you're facilitating the learning. And you know, having a group of people come together- there's a lot of peer learning happens, a lot of collective wisdom happens in group coaching and there is also time to reflect when other people are talking or sharing their experience, there’s a lot of processing happening in the other group members so there's lots of lovely benefits to having group work. Whether it's group coaching, group mentoring, group supervision there's lots of benefits that we both know happens. And a masterful coach is able to step back and facilitate this process through powerful questions and listening deeply.
Jeanine: Yeah absolutely and one of our core beliefs is that we are all connected. That we are somehow, someway connected. So as you say Marie, there will always be learnings for the participants in the groups. So the facilitator, the coach, will support the whole group to unpack whether it is someone sharing with the group or whether it's some self-reflection within the group as well. So there's always opportunities for learning and deep diving whether it's allowing the individuals to go on a journey of self-reflection or whether it's through people sharing their stories. So again setting up those ways of working is going to be really beneficial to allow that. And I guess setting up the scene and letting people know that there will be those moments of, perhaps, space and silence and allowing one person at a time to speak- unless there's things like pair work or group work. But when you're together as a whole it's really giving everybody that opportunity to have a voice and that space to reflect.
Marie: Yeah. For example, if you've got a group coaching program that is going over a three or six month period, ideally that first time you meet is spending all of that, say if you've got an hour together, all of that hour creating a ways of working. We call it contracting. We call it ways of working. We Call it rules of engagement. There are different terms for it but it really is the foundation to ensure that you have a powerful experience. That everybody in the group has a powerful experience. So that could be the first process that you do together as a group is create these ways of working together.
Jeanine: And on that topic of ways of working together it's a great place to address those difficult conversations. There was a coach who recently asked us about “what do I do in this setting where perhaps there are things that come up that are difficult and I'm not sure how to address that or how deep to go?”. So one of the things that we suggested to them is to anticipate that will happen and ask the group themselves “when this does happen How do you want to deal with it as a group?”. So again it's handing over the power to the group as to how they want to be managed going forward. And that enables the facilitator to again masterfully work with the group to be able to unlock the awareness, the learnings, that are there to be learned.
Marie: Yeah fantastic. So some simple examples of that would be, you could say “OK so we may encounter some difficult emotions group, how do we want to deal with that? We may get frustrated by somebody in the group because we've got group dynamics going on. How do we want to deal with that, if you feel frustrated when somebody is talking how do we want to overcome that? How do we want to self-manage?”. So those types of specific questions, challenging your group to think about the process before it actually happens will enable them to feel safe if and when it does happen.
Jeanine: Yeah because it may not. And it may.
Marie: Group dynamics is an interesting thing to think about. So there's an added cog, let's say, that you've got to think about with the whole relationships issue when we're dealing with a group of people versus an individual.
Jeanine: And of course Marie, we've had many years of working with groups, coaching groups and our style is to facilitate the learning. A lot of our style when we're doing coach training for example, and of course we run workshops as well. And we've had moments of where there has perhaps been some conflict between the members, or misunderstandings that have come up. And by us going back to our ways of working, going back to that original contract and supporting our group to identify “Okay so perhaps something's not working what do we need to do differently?” We know that those powerful ways of working supported us through those things that have come up. So, I don’t know if there's any examples that you'd like to share.
Marie: Yeah. Well not specific examples Jeanine, that we've encountered because we want to protect privacy. But generally, say if somebody is feeling emotional… like let's name an emotion like anger. And it's coming out into the group, then as a coach, facilitator, managing this, you have the courage, of course with the permission of the person and the group, to stay with that emotion and to rather than focusing on the person that's feeling it, open it up to the group with questions like: “And so if we are feeling this, what do you notice in your body? What are you getting? What could be coming up for you? What else is happening?”. So you expand the emotion that one person is experiencing to encompass the whole group so that other people can share their experience. It's a way of diffusing potentially what's happening in the room and expanding it into a learning experience. Because everything that comes up in coaching or group coaching is a learning experience for someone in the room and perhaps the whole room and even the coach.
Jeanine: Yeah oh absolutely. I mean it's always taking 100 percent responsibility, isn't it, for our learning.
Jeanine: And I do want to share that yeah I certainly wasn't asking you for any specifics in terms of examples but what you've shared is exactly what I was hoping that you would share. So thank you.
Marie: You're welcome. Even if you know a topic, let's say a simple topic of leadership, as we coach a group there can be lots of fears, lots of saboteurs popping up. Lots of emotions of maybe people thinking they're not good enough, or Imposter Syndrome stepping up when we've got a group of leaders in the room. And when we noticed people's physiology it's a perfect opportunity to get curious about what's happening with one person by asking powerful questions and listening deeply and opening it up to the whole group. I hope I'm making sense of about how we can do that. I mean it's funny I’ve got an image in my head Jeanine, because I'm very visual and I see things happening as they're unfolding. We don't have the capability to show our listeners that, but it's a wonderful way to say “OK I'm going to focus on you for a moment and ask some questions. And now we open it up to the group to see what's the learning here”.
Jeanine: Yeah it makes sense to me and I am trusting that it makes sense to others as well. And if it doesn't let us know and we can expand on that. So I'm noticing the time. So perhaps if we just share perhaps a few things to add to that because I believe that potentially, what we've covered is perhaps what many coaches might be interested in, in terms of how do how do we manage those difficult circumstances and situations. So very quickly if we just share a couple of things to be mindful of when group coaching, and of course one of them is you know, with the topic and with those ways of working is to also work out what kind of activities will support the learning. So making sure that your group, particularly you're there for some time, is not sedentary. That there are some sorts of ways of mixing it up, mixing up the learning by just sharing, getting people into pairs and sharing what they're learning, what their experiences have been etc. It could be just an activity where they move physically. The experts say that we as human beings, we lose our concentration between seven and 10 minutes. So if we're able to kind of change the circumstances perhaps every 10 minutes, even if it's subtle, it will support our learning. So over to you Marie. What do you think?
Marie: I think be mindful of the different styles in the group. So some people will be fast and some people will be slower at processing and give time for that and set that up in your ways of working that you're going to do that. I think having a framework that you're going to follow. Maybe not strictly, but you're going to follow throughout your session together. Having a framework set up so that you know there's a beginning and end to this and leaving space at the end for gathering the learning. That's going to be important. Because you want to be able to reflect at the end of each session or the end of each group coaching process to understand what people are learning about it so that they can go on and do something new. As we know 95 percent of creating new change is the awareness. But there’s also 5 percent action of what's going to be different as well. So having a framework to close off sessions is going to be useful. As we open up with ways of working, Remember to have a closing session at the end of the program as well, to close off the learnings and see what's going to happen next with what they've discovered.
Jeanine: Yeah. And I think going back to your framework potentially is having it having a run sheet for yourself. Based on that framework creating a run sheet because as we know Marie we do that and we don't stick to it like glue but it certainly gives us a foundation to work with. So that we can ensure that we finish on time and do all the things that we know will support the participants. But it's not set in stone for us. We are flexible because we're responding to the room but having that run sheet with timings can really support. And of course having some sort of icebreaker at the beginning so that people get to know each other, can connect with you as the facilitator as well as one another that really supports opening up the space. And in terms of that end piece you were saying Marie often what we like to do is ask for people “what is your commitment? Share if we're going to go to brief amount of time. What is one thing that you've learned, one key thing and what is the commitment that you'll take away from this?”. So again coaching is about accountability. So by sharing that you're being accountable to the group. So these are powerful ways to the learning.
Marie: And one other way and this is what coaches ask a lot they'll say “okay what if the bigger coaching topic is leadership. And what if one person wants to talk about feedback?”. Well that's a perfect topic. As long as the whole group agree to work on that. So you can ask people to bring topics to the sessions that you're doing in a group coaching. They can choose the topic or you can choose the topic. It is really looking at ways to integrate what everybody wants to learn.
Jeanine: Yeah absolutely. So it's been about twenty-five minutes which has been a great long time for us in the scheme of our podcasts. So we trust that you've got some really great value from today's session on group coaching and I believe that there's some really great value in particularly the example that Marie gave, in terms of how to deal with those challenging moments that come up with participants if that should ever happen because it may never happen in the groups that you're in and it may as well. So we trust you got value from this and any feedback would be truly welcome. We'd love to hear more. So thank you Marie for sharing your insights.
Marie: You too Jeanine.
Jeanine: Fantastic and we look forward to hearing from you next time. And any coaches out there who would like to do the Deeper Dive program, as Marie said we are running advanced coach training series this year and there'll be one specific module on group facilitation or group coaching. Hope to see there.