It was the best of times…it was the worst of times. We pushed boundaries, limits, and possibilities. Veni, Vidi, Vici! Group Coaching Participant
Most of us can’t forget entirely about our jobs when we open the door to our home or conversely, leave behind all thoughts of family life and personal commitments when we arrive at the office. And when we’re at work, we interact with various employees from different departments, cultures, and experiences. Each believes in different values, feels troubled by different concerns and circumstances, and develops different agendas. It’s no wonder that newly-formed groups need time to understand diverse perspectives as they mature.
WHERE PARTICIPANTS STRUGGLE
- Feeling uncomfortable at being “pulled away” from work.
- Unable to set aside cares, worries, and mental To Do lists during meetings.
- Mistrusting others’ ability to respect confidentiality.
- Reluctant to disclose their “sore spots.”
- Accustomed to helping others by giving advice instead of asking beneficial questions.
- Fear of interpersonal conflict and confrontation.
- Comparing themselves to others – favorably or unfavorably.
- Resisting the process (e.g., not wanting to play by Group Coaching rules).
- Forming cliques or sub-groups that stand apart from their team (for example, by holding side-conversations, communicating non-verbally with each other (e.g. rolling eyes), telling inside jokes, interrupting).
- Recurrent poor attendance and/or lateness.
- Disregarding the norm of equal air time by dominating the conversation, giving advice disguised as questions, or behaving as if their needs were more important.
- Behaving passive-aggressively, passively, or aggressively.
Experienced Group Coaching facilitators direct obstacles and difficulties back to the group for resolution. In this context, set members can deal with predicaments in several ways:
- Create norms to guide the group in specific situation (e.g. what can we do to prevent or deal with lateness?)
- Through skillful questioning, help a participant reframe a concern or a complaint into an action item (e.g. from “I can’t finish my regular work because I spend so much time in this group” to “I’m going to ask my boss if I can cross-train (Name of Person) to deal with urgent situations during my absences.”)
- Ask for suggestions for handling distracting (yet common) challenges: e.g. having difficulty leaving cares, worries, or To Do lists at the door. (Example: on a slip of paper, write what’s on your mind. Fold it in half and put your initials on the outside. Then place the paper in the middle of the table. Or settle down by journaling first.)
- During breaks, the facilitator can speak briefly with an anxious set member and encourage him/her to bring their concern to the group. F. and set members can then listen, ask questions, and display calm and caring nonverbal cues.
- The Facilitator and/or the group may ask the participant: “How can the group win your re-commitment to what we are doing?”
Effective teams learn to overcome challenges as different personalities, professional focus, values, and personal communication styles come together in a Group Coaching set. Yet when powered by a shared purpose, clear boundaries, excellent communication, an effective process, and expert guidance, individuals develop into a cohesive and productive group.
When the going gets tough, it’s usually because participants hit a few speed bumps along the way. With their facilitator’s support and assistance, these speed bumps signal learning opportunities.
This has been a great ride, with twists and turns from crisp and tight clarity to complete chaos and back again. Group Coaching Participant