Creating a Safe Space for Coaching Groups
Trust is the most important element when you're coaching groups - it creates a safe space so every member can get the most out of the experience.
I want you to think of trust as the glue that holds your group together. Without trust, communication, engagement, and connection decline between you and each individual member and also between the members of the group.
The first thing you need to know about building trust is that it takes time.
Remember: individual members may know you, but some or all other group members are total strangers.
So, don't rush the process and don't force it. Take time to consciously and consistently connect members with each other and encourage interaction inside -- and even outside -- the group.
You can inspire trust in the group by asking "ice-breaker" questions so members can start to feel a strong bond with each other from day 1.
Think of questions that will have people sharing some of their personal stories, challenges and wins with the rest of the group, inside the community space or on the first coaching call.
You might want to host a "Welcome to the Party" call at the start of your program for members to share and hear each other's stories and listen to each other's answers to your ice-breaker questions, on the live call.
Another simple but effective way to encourage trust in the group is to have people turn on their video during group calls so everyone can see each other. It's the closest you can get to "face to face" conversations, in a virtual world.
And while we're on the topic - do what you can to meet in the real world.
If you have a longer group program - 3 months or more -- you could organize in-person meet-ups and retreats so group members get to connect with each other in real life, talk, laugh, exchange ideas, and walk away feeling heard, seen and understood by rest of the group.
In-person meetings are one of the fastest, most powerful ways to create real relationships and lasting trust when you're coaching groups.
Asking great questions at the start of your group program can increase and strengthen trust. Here's a list of ice-breaker questions you can use to start building trust in your group:
- What are your personal values?
- What is your biggest goal in this program and why did you choose this goal?
- If you could have everyone else in the group know one important thing about you, what would it be?
- Where did you grow up and what was it like growing up in your hometown?
- What's your favorite movie/book/song of all time?
- If you could invite 3 people to a "dream dinner party," who would they be?
High Engagement and Energy in Coaching Groups
Some group coaching programs are like a ghost town - everything's quiet and nothing ever happens.
There's low to zero engagement among members.
They don't ask questions, don't offer input or support each other.
In the end, most people don't get the results they signed up for and blame the program, the coaching style, and you, the coach.
Then, there are group coaching experiences that are like the Mardi Gras -- something's happening all the time.
The coach and every single member are giving it their all and engagement is through the roof.
The community space is alive with powerhouse questions, comments, answers, and shares. People are connected to each other, inspired and motivated to help.
Live coaching calls are exciting, full of energy and regularly attract high attendance.
Members have an outstanding, transformational experience and they end up achieving the results they signed up for.
In the long-term, your reputation in coaching groups rides on what your members get to experience.
Firing up engagement isn't rocket science.
3 STEPS TO INCREASE ENGAGEMENT FROM THE GET-GO
- Have an easily accessible virtual space - like a free Facebook group -- where members gather to connect, share, ask questions and have their questions answered.
An accessible virtual space allows people to come together as a community for engagement and connection.
- Be conscious of who you let into the group.Group engagement is very tied to your selection process. Members need to be on the same page and have similar challenges and obstacles around your coaching theme so they can connect with each other on a deeper level.
For instance, many business coaches take in group members who are at extremely different levels in their business - they have entrepreneurs just starting out and those who are already at the 6-figure and heading toward the 7-figure mark.
This is a massive gap.
It's almost impossible to spark conversations and interactions among members because they have very little in common, which leads to a disconnected, disengaged group.
- Decide consciously on the number of people.This can make a huge difference in your group's engagement. There's no such thing as a "perfect number" for groups so this one's mostly up to you.
Some coaches love groups that are bigger - more than 10 people. They like working with different challenges and personality types because it triggers their creativity.
Some coaches enjoy small groups - less than 10 people - because it creates an intimate setting for members to get to know and be there for each other.
If you've tried coaching groups before, think about what worked and what didn't, based on the number of people you had in your group. If this is your first rodeo, think of a number that feels comfortable but stretches you just outside your comfort zone.
You can also talk to other coaches about their experiences to get a feel for what's right for you.
Finally, let's talk price.
Engagement is influenced by the amount you charge for your program. Mostly, higher prices means better engagement.
When people invest more in a coaching program commitment shoots up because it feels like there's a lot more to lose.
This makes sense when you think about it.
People want their money's worth and they're far more likely to do the work and be engaged if a big chunk of money is at stake.
When it's time to think about pricing, do your research. Consider your program structure, and what others in your space are offering.
Consider the value of your offer and the transformation you can help people achieve, and make sure you don't underprice yourself.
These are some ideas to boost engagement but as coach and leader of the group, it's up to you to make sure conversation and communication continues to happen.
So get creative.
Don't be afraid to jump in with surprise live videos, bonus webinars or question prompts to get members talking and connecting.
You can even offer fun quizzes, freebies and friendly competitions to kickstart and maintain engagement.
Do what it takes to keep the energy high.
Know that engagement and energy are make or break elements when it comes to coaching groups and a successful program is one that's fully, vibrantly, engaged.
Most coaches don't think about energy or engagement until it's too late. These questions will help you come up with ideas and insights around creating a highly engaged, energized group coaching experience.
- How many people would you like to have in your group program?
- How do you want to increase engagement? Think about mini contests, freebies and surprise bonuses you can include to keep things interesting.
- What's the price of your program? This is a big question so don't feel like you have to answer right away. Set aside a couple of hours this week to research pricing on group coaching programs in your industry and niche before settling on a price or a price range that's right for you.
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