6. Group Coaching: The Role of the Facilitator by Janet Ratniewski, M.S.

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The Group Coaching facilitator has a unique role in setting the structure, maintaining focus on objectives and outcomes, role modeling, assuring the use of open ended, reflective questions, probing, checking, paraphrasing, and setting topics for the session. They help the group reflect on their learnings and problem-solving process, and encourage application of knowledge gained in Group Coaching to other organizational challenges.

The Group Coaching facilitator guides the group to examine their own behaviors, such as:

•    listening to, supporting, and challenging each other                                                                                       •    providing effective feedback for each other                                                                                                     •    asking each other helpful and challenging questions                                                                                     •    planning actions and solutions                                                                                                                           •    following through on action plans

The role of the facilitator changes and evolves over time.

Initially, the facilitator is the keeper of the structure and process: setting boundaries and group norms, determining session themes, establishing roles of group members, and keeping time. In these first few sessions, the facilitator engages in some teaching and modeling of the Group Coaching process, emphasizing the differences in content versus process. He or she creates a safe and trusting environment.

Over time, the facilitator strives to become obsolete as the group learns to manage their structure and roles and hold each other accountable. As the Group Coaching continues, the facilitator focuses more on validating the process. Trusting relationships are established and the facilitator challenges group members to stretch themselves and grow.

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