Dr Zara Whysall, Research & Impact Director at Kiddy & Partners May 28 2024

Group Coaching to Enhance and Embed Learning

Coaching is a valuable tool to promote transfer of learning from other developmental activities such as training and leadership development programmes, helping to unlock value, enhance impact and maximise return on investment.

Training alone has been shown to increase productivity by 22.4%, compared to training plus coaching which resulted in an 88% productivity gain. Acknowledging that feedback is an essential component of learning: leaders benefit greatly from being given support to interpret feedback correctly and identify actionable behaviour changes. The combination of feedback and coaching has been found to increase leadership effectiveness by up to 60%, whereas leaders who receive feedback in the absence of coaching show considerably less performance improvement.

Group coaching provides a way to ensure that learning has direct relevance and meaning to a leader’s work setting by helping leaders address issues and concerns of practice and make meaningful changes in their daily life. In groups this is particularly effective, not only in terms of resources, but also in terms of additional benefits gained from the joint problem-solving, collaboration and social learning involved.

Collaboration is a powerful feature of group coaching, where problems, viewpoints and ideas can be shared, and solutions identified. This happens through social learning, which encourages individuals to merge both their behaviour and their cognitive capabilities together. It’s a process which offers a multitude of benefits that enhance personal development and growth. One of the key advantages of social learning is that it can foster collaboration among individuals and allows the learning to become a shared experience, especially in the form of group coaching. As a collective, those who are involved are given the opportunity to engage with their peers, gain different perspectives and insights, and enrich their understanding of the matter that is being taught.

Social learning, when combined with the structure and tools that are found in group coaching becomes a powerful catalyst for personal and professional growth. The concept alone, allows individuals to observe the behaviour of others and as a result influences their actions. A key advantage of group coaching is knowing that those who are present tend to have similar goals, aspirations, and interests, and one of the motivations when placed in a position to grow with others to improve is that it is not an isolated journey. When the collective learning and resources of the group leverage with one another, individuals who are involved in the coaching process place themselves in a better position to achieve their goals and embark on a journey of continuous learning and development.

How to keep coaching conversations goal-focused?

To ensure that coaching conversations stay goal focused, group coaches carefully structure each coaching session according to needs of the group. At t-three, we use our own unique approach within group coaching, drawing upon evidence-based frameworks such as the Professional Learning through Feedback and Reflection (PROFLEC) coaching protocol, but honed through our extensive experience of delivering effective group coaching, and using our impact evaluation data to continually sharpen the approach. For us, a key element in group coaching is ensuring an appropriate balance of support and challenges to help individuals to accelerate their development.

Transfer of knowledge and learning from the coaching context to the day job is crucial for any leadership intervention to have an impact, so identifying concrete actions that align with the goals and objectives identified, is pivotal. In our coaching, sometimes this takes the form of experience based ‘apply challenges’ to promote discovery learning, deliver benefits to the organisation and encourage individuals to stretch themselves. Supporting coaches to identify actions through the group coaching process of reflecting on their experiences and hearing other viewpoints in the coaching process gives participants the confidence to try out new approaches and take on new learning opportunities, also ensuring that there is ongoing learning which builds leadership capacity. Of course, this is just an example of the type of structure typically adopted in group coaching, but one of the key benefits of coaching as an L&D intervention is that the coach can flex according to the needs of the group, whilst also ensuring that the process delivers needed benefits to the organisation.

Performance Acceleration, support, and challenge sessions:

To further enhance the learning experience and enable peer to peer support we recommend integrating ‘Performance acceleration, support, and challenge sessions’ into the solution. Each team coaching session powerfully marries the principles and practices of action learning with those of integral team coaching. This result is a learning environment where leaders can safely support each other, embed their learning, focus on their strengths, sustain new behaviours and deal with every day real world problems, challenges, and opportunities they are facing at work.

How do they work? The team coach typically facilitates the team through the following 5-element structure:

  • The Challenge - This could be a dilemma, an issue faced by the team, or an opportunity. One person, on behalf of the team, describes and must have some personal stake in its outcome or resolution.

  • The Collaborative Inquiry - This is the period of open questioning, not solution gathering! Each question should have the potential to awaken a new perspective or shed some light on a hidden assumption or unseen possibility.

  • The Reflection - This practice allows each member of the team to gather their thoughts, crystalize their insights and prepare to share those.

  • The Voicing - During this phase each team member shares the outcome of their reflection by focusing on the “content” or an insight they have gained.

  • Commitment - In this final segment, the support and challenge Group Coaching session moves to an agreement of what happens next, either by consensus or led by the person (with delegated authority) who first introduced the challenge or opportunity. Commitment is tested, resources aligned, measures introduced to lend strength to the commitment.


To find out more, why not download our brand new eBook 'The Collective Advantage: Group Coaching Solutions for Organisational Success'. 



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