Dr Zara Whysall, Research & Impact Director at Kiddy & Partners May 23 2024

Group vs Team Coaching: What, Why and When?

Before we delve into group and team coaching, it's firstly important to understand the differences between a team and group. The distinction lies in your focus and goals. Consider a football match: the players on the field form a team, working together to achieve their objectives. Meanwhile, the spectators are a group—united in watching the game but not sharing the same specific goals.

In an organisational context, there are different types of group/team, each bringing different levels of performance, having its own characteristics, benefits, and challenges. As shown in Katztenbach’s Team Performance Curve, below, this includes a working group, pseudo-team, potential team, real team, and high performing team. High performing teams exhibit high levels of alignment and collaboration. However, a working group can be effective in achieving a specific goal or delivering on a project.

team performance curve


Our definition of group coaching involves bringing together a group of employees to focus on a specific purpose, goal, or issue, facilitated by a coach who supports them using a coaching process and coaching techniques. The group may or may not work together habitually and may simply be working on a common theme or competency but with different individual performance goal. It is different from coaching individuals one at a time or in pairs in a group setting, as this approach doesn't leverage group dynamics. Group coaching benefits from diverse perspectives, peer support, and learning through collaboration and collective problem-solving. The term group coaching has been used for various interventions like facilitation, training, peer-to-peer coaching, coaching circles, action learning groups, and small group processes. Often, team and group coaching are used interchangeably without clarifying the key differences. 

Our definition of team coaching is where the individuals involved are members of an existing, “intact” team, who are working together towards a defined and mutually accountable goal. The coach works with the team as a unique entity with a focus on understanding one another, and the group dynamics, to help the team become more effective. The team coaching process helps increase self-awareness and challenges team members to enhance relationships and performance by leveraging strengths and minimising those things that serve the team less well.

How does this differ from team or group facilitation?

Group coaching is typically more goal-focused than group facilitation. In group coaching, the coach addresses both the content being discussed and the coaching process itself. According to Clutterbuck (2007), a facilitator manages the dialogue and focuses on decision-making, while a coach empowers the team to manage their own dialogue and emphasises goal achievement. The coach is more involved, providing feedback and creating a space for the team to collaborate and understand issues. In contrast, the facilitator remains detached and concentrates on the team process.

When would we most benefit from group or team coaching?

Choosing the right coaching intervention requires consideration of what you are aiming to achieve for the organisation and the individuals. In our coaching work, we find that organisations benefit particularly from group or team coaching applied in these ways:

  1. Group Coaching to enhance and embed learning

    Unfortunately, evidence suggests that for many organisations, the bulk of their investment in training is wasted, because the learning is not transferred to the job. The key differentiating factor that determines whether an investment in training has an impact, is the positive transfer of learning. In other words, does the learning that results from training transfer to the job and lead to beneficial changes in work performance?

    Coaching is an effective way of achieving this, by promoting reflection and transfer of learning to the workplace in between formal learning activities such as programme or training modules. Effective coaches encourage constructive reflection, encouraging employees to step out of their own mental frames, and sharing different viewpoints so that they might see different possibilities. In this context, coaching does not to replace the more formal aspects of development such as training but is a complementary approach to maximise learning and promote application of learning back in the day job, where it matters.

  2. Team coaching to enhance team performance, cohesion and alignment

    Team coaching is a very impactful way to help any team become more effective, to integrate new members, tackle a new challenge, refocus, or realign. A skilled coach does this by helping the group to understand and leverage the interpersonal dynamics at large in the team, and to bring to fore the team dynamics the team experiences back in their organisation(s), which accelerates the change process and helps them to be more effective back in the workplace.

  3. Thematic group coaching to support individuals with a shared issue

    Group coaching is an effective way of supporting groups of individuals who share a common need or challenge. We most often work with group of individuals going through a specific change or transition, a group of leaders of managers stepping into new roles, or a group focused on strengthening diversity, equality, and inclusion. Group coaching in this context provides a common space and supportive structure through which individuals are facilitated to sense-make, learn from each other, collectively problem solve, and identify ways forwards. We often provide diagnostic data to help inform and shape these sessions. The group coaching helps to foster real change and development in individuals and the team, by equipping them with high level of systemic awareness and an understanding of organisations as dynamic and complex systems.

Questions to ask yourself?

- Is your investment in formal training and leadership development making a difference on the job, or is it being underutilised?

- Do you have teams that could benefit from tailored coaching sessions to improve their dynamics, realign, and elevate their performance from good to great?

- Do you have people facing tough transitions or challenges who would benefit from a safe space with an independent coach and peer support to help them move forward confidently?


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



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