Team Coaching vs Group Coaching: Key Similarities & Differences

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What is the difference between group coaching and team coaching? Although both relate to groups of people and look almost the same, there are subtle differences between the two terms.

Let’s start by exploring what each term means.

What Is Group Coaching?

Group coaching is defined as inter-functional leadership among small groups (six to ten people) to address contextual challenges and promote personal and professional development. Different people from different organizations and walks of life come together under one coach in order to work on their issues. 

Professional group coaching has many benefits. In particular, it provides an opportunity to strengthen the ability to work in a new team and increase awareness of the impacts of decision-making from multiple viewpoints.

Group Coaching can be of great benefit because it:

Promotes problem-solving among members

Group coaching is great for solving problems because it guides and supports group members to clarify the challenges, identify strategies and solutions to overcome them, and come up with actions to implement those strategies. Members can share support and accountability to take those actions.

Guarantees transfer of training

That same support and accountability can be used to ensure that group members apply the content that they got from any form of training, such as courses, podcasts, educational youtube channels, workshops and seminars.

Fosters a learning environment

The close engagement among members and their strong focus on helping each other can quickly form a close and confidential bond in which members come to rely on each other to achieve their individual goals.

Creates opportunities for deeper networking

Because members completely count on each other, they share more than business cards – they share their needs, open and honest feedback, and useful and practical resources with each other.

Helps them acquire core coaching skills

Coaching has proven to be a powerful tool to facilitate change in people. Organizational change, including cultural change, also requires people to change. In some forms of group coaching, members are not only coached but practice coaching. Group coaching becomes cost-effective because members do a lot of work in the group itself.

Creates a trusting, honest environment wherever they go

We know that without the full buy-in, participation, and commitment of the people involved, any kind of change initiative becomes highly unlikely to succeed. People who undergo group coaching take their learnings to their work and daily life. Developing the skills to be open, honest, and candid in their relationships and making sure everyone feels seen, heard, and respected.

Builds a collaborative culture inside organizations

If you’re a leader inside an organization, you can use group coaching for building a team culture within your organization, fostering collaboration across your organization, and building a conscious, shared work culture that aligns with your business strategy.

What Is Team Coaching?

Team coaching is the promotion of coaching for individuals who are all united toward a common purpose, goal, or outcome. As a general rule, the team size is ten people or less, and work together in an organization on a regular basis.  

Team coaching helps organizations achieve their goals while creating a sustainable environment that fosters engagement, team health, and success.

The team coaching process helps teams in an organization align toward common goals, develop an inspiring vision, build healthy team relationships with clearly defined roles, and take responsibility for actions and results. It helps teams make constructive decisions in line with their organization’s goals.

A team is a group of people who come together for a common purpose, ideally with defined roles and identifiable goals. Teams are generally expected to achieve more than any individual can achieve. However, teams often struggle, perform poorly, or fail completely. They often find themselves stuck in unhelpful patterns and unresolved conflicts.

Team Coaching is especially useful in situations where:

  • When a new work plan is needed
  • When a team merges
  • When a new manager takes over the team
  • When team conflicts need to be addressed
  • When team efficiency needs to be increased
  • When long projects lead to burnout
  • When conflict or stress reduces productivity
  • When the team is not meeting its goals
  • When commitment is low
  • When there is a major organizational change
  • When embarking on new and challenging projects
  • To deepen understanding and value diversity.

Key Differences Between Group Coaching & Team Coaching

Group Coaching focuses on the individual development goals of different people from different paths or organizations. Their goals are their only common factor. It focuses on the development of group members. This may include mutual support to achieve individual growth goals.

Whereas Team Coaching refers to team development goals in a team setting within an organization. This can be, for example, a management team with common work goals achieved through teamwork. It focuses on team development as the team progresses toward team goals.

Similarities Between Group Coaching & Team Coaching

Let’s take a look at some of the common features of both group and team coaching:

  • In both cases, individuals strive to improve their skills and performances.
  • Group and team coaching sessions involve multiple participants.
  • Group or team coaching sessions are designed to create a time-based approach that allows for teaching or learning, feedback from participants, and opportunity for questions and answers.
  • Sessions are not focused on one person. However, it may also include drilling down to specific individuals that all members could benefit from the group-sharing experience.
  • Groups and teams may only consist of two participants.
  • Most group coaching sessions are small and quaint, with 6-15 participants, but there are also sessions with a sizable number of participants.
  • A group of people may or may not know each other. Each person joins the group with an agenda, challenges, goals, and dreams. In a team setting, this changes a bit. A team is a group of like-minded people working towards a set of standard goals.
  • Coaching sessions can support individual growth while also advancing the group’s/team’s mission and goals through the coaching process.
  • Group coaching helps you push yourself and build momentum while working with others. This is often a precursor to personalized coaching, where each session focuses on the individual.
  • Group and team engagement allow us to hear the perspectives, stories, growth, challenges, and struggles of others. Hearing other people’s journeys can motivate us because we see similarities in our struggles.

What Do These Methodologies Look Like?

Group Coaching Methodology

Group coaching programs can perform one of three functions for their members: education, training, or support.

Groups cannot be expected to work well from the start. Forming a group is like cultivating a relationship. It takes time, patience, support, and effort, and members often go through recognizable stages in the process of transforming from a gathering of strangers to a unified group with common goals.

Adapting  Bruce Tuckman‘s model of group development, let’s look at group coaching as a five-step process.

1. Orientation (Formation Phase)

The first phase of group development is the formation phase. This stage represents the time when the group is just beginning to come together and is expressed as fear and uncertainty.

The members act modestly because they want to be accepted by all members of the group. Conflicts, disputes, misunderstandings, and personal opinions are avoided even as members begin to form impressions of each other and understand what the group does together. The important thing is to understand the group’s purpose, determine how the team is organized, who is responsible for what, and discuss the major milestones or phases of the group’s goals. 

Here, group coaches provide an overview of group rules, including meeting times and available resources for the group.

During this phase, group members learn what to do, how the group operates, what is expected, and what is acceptable.

2. Power Struggle (Charge Phase)

The second phase of Group development is the Charge Phase. Argument and competition are at their maximum during the charge phase, as group members understand their work and have a general sense of belonging to the group and the members of the group. It is a phase in which more aggressive group members emerge, and less confrontational members stay in their comfort zone.

Questions about leadership, authority, rules, policies, norms, responsibilities, structures, metrics, and reward systems typically arise during the storming phase. Such questions need to be answered for the group to move on to the next stage.

3. Collaboration and Integration (Normalization Phase)

During this phase, the group becomes fun and enjoyable. Group interactions are much easier, more collaborative, and more productive with balanced give-and-take, open communication, bonding, and mutual respect.

If there is a dispute or blockage, it can be resolved relatively easily and the group can get back on track.

Group leadership is very important, but the group coach can step back and let the group members take the lead and move forward together.

4. Synergies (implementation phase)

Once the group has identified its needs, the third phase of group development, the standardization phase, can be reached. This is the time when the group truly comes together.

At this stage, morale is high as group members actively recognize the talents, skills, and experience each member brings to the group. A sense of belonging is created, and the group remains focused on group purpose and goals.

Members are flexible, interdependent, and trust each other. Leadership is distributive, and members willingly adapt to the needs of the group.

5. Closure (Deferred Stage)

This stage of the group can be confusing and is usually reached when group members no longer need the group coach to support them and begin to work independently.

Team Coaching Methodology

As team strategy becomes more mainstream, several team coaching models have been developed for practitioners.

Coaching teams include techniques and methods that take into account group dynamics and consider key areas such as communication, collaboration, and culture.

Perhaps the best-known example, Hawkins’ 5 Disciplines of Team Coaching, proposes a multidisciplinary approach to team coaching that emphasizes five key elements for successful team practice.

In this framework, coaches support teams with:

  1. 1
    Commissioning – Helping teams establish a clear purpose, success criteria, and collaborative opportunities.
  2. 2
    Clarity – Supporting them in clarifying their purpose, goals, values, roles, and expectations.
  3. 3
    Co-creation – Creating a collective awareness of team dynamics and performance.
  4. 4
    Linking – Coaching them to work together effectively to achieve their common goals.
  5. 5
    Core Learning – Enabling the group to develop, adapt, and support themselves within the organizational and wider business environment.

By helping teams and their members develop these skills, team coaches enable them to create sustainable environments for high performance, creativity, and effectiveness.

Choosing Between Team Coaching & Group Coaching

Most coaches opt to have both one-on-one personal training as well as group coaching, as it helps them reach more clients, while also being able to offer highly personalized sessions for those who may be hesitant about working with other people.

While both group coaching and team coaching work towards better functionality within an organization, they are very different in their methodologies and goals. As a coach, the amount of time you can spend on coaching, the revenue you wish to earn, whether you prefer guiding people towards a common goal or using a group environment to help them individually, and your career goals are all important factors that have to be considered. 

Be clear about how you will implement your coaching program and the value you want to bring to your clients. Both on an individual and organizational level, people are striving to change their old selves and teams into what they want to be.

Both coaching niches can have significant benefits for both clients and coaches. Clients can benefit from reduced costs and shared learning experiences, while coaches can reach more people.

At Evercoach, we offer coaching guides and other valuable resources to help coaches kick-start their careers. If you’re looking to get certified as a coach, head over to our website here! Backed by a powerful and diverse community that is just as dynamic as you are, we offer the very best coaches and courses in the world.

About The Author

Evercoach Team

Evercoach is the premier place to find up-to-date and relevant information about coaching and the coaching industry. Our authors are industry professionals, with years of experience in the coaching industry and some owning their own successful coaching practices.