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How to Pick the Right Framework for Your Group Coaching Program

Group coaching | March 26th, 2021

Pick the Right Framework for Your Group Coaching Program

As a coach, you have to think about how to grow your business and help more people. But unfortunately, while one-on-one coaching can be incredibly powerful, there’s just so much time you have each day, limiting the number of people you can work with as well.

The good news is that with group coaching, you can offer some of the most potent benefits of one-on-one coaching while also providing your clients a few unique advantages that only group coaching can offer.

But before you get to that point, you need to understand what makes it different from personal coaching sessions, choose a suitable model, and create the best learning environment and self-improvement in a group setting.

The good news? We’ll go over all of these topics in this article, preparing you to take on group coaching with much more confidence. Let’s get started below. 

Your First Step to Group Coaching

At first glance, group coaching can seem relatively straightforward, especially if you’ve already done one-on-one training sessions before. 

You get people into a group setting and work with them as a group, as well as individually, throughout the duration of the coaching sessions. What’s so different about that?

Well, as many less experienced coaches quickly find out, coaching a group brings forth a whole new dynamic that you will have to consider and adapt to. At least if you want people to stay focused on your message, gain value from the group coaching, and want to come back for more.

But what’s the main difference between one-on-one and group coaching? 

Well, when you coach a person individually, they can expect your full and undivided attention. But while that’s great on some levels, it can also be a bit limiting. 

That’s because, in a group setting, the person can not only share their own problems and receive feedback but can also listen to the challenges faced by others, expanding their own understanding of what they should think about and learning how to approach situations they haven’t even thought about yet. 

By hearing others share their views and then seeing how you respond, they can get a lot more out of each session, even if they don’t get as much individual attention.

And then there’s the opportunity to interact with others and share ideas between attendees. 

One of the main reasons why workshops and group coaching have taken off is that people who want to achieve big things often feel alone and have to overcome a lot of self-doubts.

Seeing others struggle with similar things and then overcoming them can be a massive boost in confidence, which helps them overcome their own self-limiting beliefs and progress much faster.

Therefore, your first step to group coaching is understanding that as a group leader, it will be your job to not just prepare for the coaching sessions but also to nurture an atmosphere that’s inclusive, supportive, and structured in a way to motivate and create bonds between people. 

To achieve that, you’ll need to think about how you define your sessions and what the one underlying idea is, which you can come back to and reinforce through everything you teach, asking the right coaching questions that encourage discussion and growth. 

Which Group Coaching Models to Choose?

Group coaching models

Until now, we mainly talked about the differences between one-on-one and group coaching. But group coaching can come in different formats as well.

Let’s look at the most common ways it can be set up and figure out which approach to choose in your current situation.

Cohort Model

The first type of group coaching on our list is the cohort model, which is the most straightforward way to organize coaching for multiple people and is ideal for people who are just starting out.

Basically, a cohort model means that you set a specific start and end date for your coaching, get a limited group of people to sign up, and guide them through the predetermined coaching program in real-time, with everyone progressing together. 

This type of group coaching offers the most opportunities to remain heavily involved with each member, providing personalized guidance and actively participating in all the sessions yourself.

The biggest advantages of cohort training are that it’s: 

  • easy to set up 
  • allows you to charge the most per attendee

Because there’s still a lot of personal attention and a limited amount of members that can participate, you can leverage the scarcity factor to charge premium prices, making the effort of working with multiple people worth it.

However, the amount of time you will have to spend still remains high, and so this type of group coaching model still requires a big commitment.

What’s more, since you are running the sessions live and on a fixed schedule, there’s a limit to how much you can scale, especially if you want to have time for other business activities and avoid burning yourself out. 

To make this cohort group coaching work, you must give enough time to prepare a bulletproof program your students will absolutely love.

Working one-on-one, you can adjust the contents of each session according to the person you’re working with, but a group coaching program without a clearly defined plan is bound to become unfocused, unhinged, and frustrating for everyone involved.

You will need to keep the topics moving forward to cover everything you need to, and you will need a structured program to showcase to prospective students so that they can see exactly what they can expect and what types of results your coaching can help them achieve.

You also need to tailor your program to a very specific group of people if you want to follow through on the promises you make.

No matter what you decide to focus on, your group coaching will probably be more suited for some people than others, so you need to identify the ideal person for your coaching and focus on attracting and accepting only them.

Program Model

The next type of coaching model you could consider is the program model. It offers much more flexibility for students because there’s no set launch date, which means that people can sign up at any time and go through the program when they have the most free time.

However, a program model still retains a fixed length, whether that’s two weeks, two months, or even half a year. 

With this type of model, you can still maintain at least some restrictions regarding the signup date as well, but there should still be a period during which people can sign up and begin at their own schedule instead of all at once.

The biggest challenge you’ll need to overcome is automating some of the processes you could have handled live otherwise. Since people will be going through the program at different timelines, that means you won’t be able to work with each person live, and a lot of the content will have to be pre-recorded and released automatically at the right time. 

However, this also means that you won’t be as restricted in terms of the number of attendees you can accept. Scaling your coaching business becomes much easier, so this type of program could be a great next step once you are ready to expand your group coaching business and reach a broader audience.

Another reason why this model works so well after the cohort model is that you can use the same framework you started with, merely upgrading it to fit the new format.

Working with live student groups in a cohort group coaching setting will help you perfect your approach, crystalizing the essential points of emphasis, helping cut out any bits that aren’t adding value, and structuring everything in a way that benefits students the most and makes the information as easy to understand as possible.

One thing to consider with the program group coaching model is that since you won’t be able to be as involved, the price will probably have to be reduced at least a bit as well. Luckily, the much better opportunities for scaling will probably more than make up for it, especially after you get the program going and start automating various parts of the workflows.

Membership Model

The final group coaching type is the membership model, which requires the least ongoing management, but needs a strong reputation and quite a lot of effort to set up.

Basically, with this model, you are running an evergreen coaching system with a structured program that people can start at any time, going through the content as they would in a live program but with the materials being mostly prerecorded and completely automated.

Many established coaches have used the membership model to keep their coaching clients in their circle, allowing them to not only maintain access to the program’s materials but also offering access to a community of like-minded people, as well as various exclusive perks that add even more value.

For instance, even though the program is mostly automated, you could offer regular webinars, Q&A sessions, bonus content, or even limited personal coaching to help people solve their individual problems.

That, together with the community element that can be immensely helpful in overcoming challenges, is a powerful incentive, especially for people who have already worked with you before and want to continue to have access to your guidance as they progress.

Succeeding with this model will come down to offering enough value to justify the monthly price of remaining a member. If you just offer the same pre-recorded materials, people won’t stick around for long. But add in the community element, regular updates, and live group sessions, and you’ve got an appealing proposal that many people will be willing to pay a lot for.

Once perfected, this model can provide you with the ultimate freedom in terms of group coaching. You can partner up with peers or even former students to take some of the live interaction out of your own hands, mostly overseeing the big-picture stuff and making sure that people get as much value as possible.

This model is also incredibly scalable, with virtually no limit to how much you can scale as long as people continue seeing your program as valuable and are willing to keep paying the monthly fee.

Creating a Safe Space & Ensuring High Engagement in Your Coaching Groups

Engagement in Your Coaching Groups

No matter what type of group coaching you end up choosing, one thing will remain the same – you’ll need to nurture a safe space for everyone involved if you want them to stay engaged and get the most value possible from the coaching sessions you prepare for them.

That’s especially true for a group setting, as even though the participants who sign up know and at least somewhat trust you, that’s not the case with everyone else they will be expected to communicate and collaborate.

So, one of the primary goals of the coach is to try and break the ice as quickly as possible. Whether you achieve it through games, exercises, or just encouraging collaboration is up to you. But the way you establish trust between participants will set the stage for how effective the group sessions will be.

You should also think about how you’re going to keep people engaged and focused on the materials you will be covering. 

To keep engagement high, you need to select the right people from the get-go and nurture an environment (even a virtual one) where people can easily communicate, share their thoughts, and interact with others.

Finally, depending on the group coaching model you choose, think about how many people you can comfortably take on, while ensuring that everyone gets enough value and stays engaged in what’s happening at different stages of the coaching program.

Final Words

Group coaching can completely change how you run your coaching business. It offers unique opportunities for scaling while also giving powerful benefits to participants that they just couldn’t gain from one-on-one sessions.

But to succeed in group coaching, you must: 

  • Understand the key differences from personal coaching;
  • Choose the suitable coaching model in your situation;
  • And make sure that you create a safe environment that nurtures engagement above all else. 

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I’m CEO of UpCoach and a serial entrepreneur. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs and executives to find success and harmony in business and in life.