Our main objective was personal development, and thanks to everyone’s feedback and support, I came away with more than I ever expected. –Group Coaching Participant

We humans learn continuously: our survival, evolution, and success require it. Throughout our lives, we identify and solve problems, observe others, seek guidance, grapple with new experiences, explore unfamiliar territory (both without and within), ask questions, and search for information.

At work, Action Learning is an ideal context for diligent self-development. And since the efficacy of the team experience depends on choosing the right members, participant selection sets the stage for achieving the dual mission of Group Coaching:

  • Exploring an issue/solving a problem
  • Building the capability of individual participants and the team as a whole

(Note: See Group Coaching: The Role of the Participant)

There are two credible methods a company can use to recognize and recruit Group Coaching set members:

  1. Asking managers to identify employees whose professional development will accelerate through participation.
  2. Once Group Coaching is part of a company’s culture, soliciting volunteers to participate, along with an application, meeting logistics, and the role description for a set participant. Of course, the participant will need his manager’s approval for this level of participation.

Many expert practitioners recommend these guidelines to qualify team members:

  1. Structure sets to include talent from various functions and disciplines.
  2. Keep members within one or two responsibility levels.
  3. Never place bosses with direct reports.
  4. Maximize diversity—male and female, experienced and inexperienced, youthful and mature, varying cultural backgrounds—to expand the learning environment in the sets.
  5. Choose employees who are ready for a rich developmental opportunity (and may someday train as a facilitator), have no performance problems, and/or who are high performers seeking motivation, a challenge, or exposure to other parts of the organization. Perhaps this experience can be part of an individual development plan.
  6. Ensure that set participants have discretionary time to control their work schedule (e.g. the ability to attend a meeting during the workday and have someone cover for them), and the commitment and the support of their boss for the duration.

Entry Characteristics for Participants

  • Tolerate ambiguity
  • Respect confidentiality
  • Curious and motivated to learn
  • Comfortable disclosing lack of knowledge/skill in front of others
  • Willingness to take measured risks
  • Ownership for his/her own action and learning

Once the Sponsor and/or panel of managers facilitated by the project manager and/or external consultant identify prospective set members, the candidate’s manager or the Project Manager meets individually with candidates to:

  • Explain the formation of a Group Coaching set (to give employees a chance to learn and practice team dynamics, solve individual problems, build interpersonal skills, increase emotional intelligence, and expand their mindset).
  • Describe the benefits to and responsibilities of participating members.
  • Consider the candidate’s ability to commit time and make the Group Coaching meeting attendance a top priority.
  • Review agenda and timeframes: teams meet all day for eight months throughout a year.
  • Note changes (if any) to the individual’s work responsibilities

After this briefing, all the candidates participate in an orientation to Group Coaching where roles, expectations, and further preparation will build a solid foundation for the new team members.

Transformative learning occurs when we make a new or revised interpretation of the meaning of an experience, which guides subsequent understanding, appreciation, and action.  Jack Mezirow.