Group Coaching AgreementsRecently we’ve been talking about the six-step model of group coaching that has supported countless coaches over the years and helped them get their core message out in a bigger way. We began by reviewing the 6-step model and also established Step 1, the Connection.

Next in the 6-step model we consider Step 2, Coaching Agreements.

In this step, the group agrees to a set of guidelines that they will follow when interacting and communicating with each other. We call these the Standards of Presence, a clearly articulated and easy to understand set of guidelines, which provides a proven container of safety in any group. I want to acknowledge the Inspired Learning Foundation and Coach For Life for these wonderful group guidelines – these are the secret sauce to group coaching!

The Approach: Co-creating a Safe Environment

All groups that come together for the purpose of learning, creating, communicating, living or celebrating are served when the creation and maintenance of a safe space is established. A truly safe group environment provides the basis for powerful transformation, empowering exploration, inspired collaboration and vibrant living.

The Underlying Principle: Acceptance

The primary underlying principle of the Standards of Presence is acceptance. Know that everyone is doing their best to learn, grow, respect, and follow these Standards. Self-acceptance is particularly beneficial to experience a safe, empowering environment to learn, create, communicate, and celebrate.

Standards of Presence: When to Introduce

Introduce the Standards of Presence right after the connection in the first group meeting. These Standards are a key to making sure that the group runs smoothly. They help to set up a safe space in the MIND of each of the group members, so that everyone can have a very empowering experience. Then, ask each group member to agree to uphold the Standard to the best of their ability. Although subtle, the Standards of Presence assure a level playing field and bonds the group in a common endeavor. The message rings loud and clear, “You are not alone and you are safe here.”

I encourage you to customize this by inviting changes from group members so they really “own” it. Let’s look at an example of how a Standard could be modified:

Example of Customizing: Maintain a Positive Focus

  • I focus on the 98% that is working. (Or 95%. Or 82%. You get the idea!)
  • What I focus on expands.
  • I fill my tank with the power of positivity.
  • What I perceive in others I strengthen in myself.

Modifications should not impact the essence of the Standards. In the example of practicing a positive focus, there’s no impact. If someone asks to be told when he or she does something incorrectly—or asks for ‘constructive criticism’—that undermines the very foundation of the Standards and cannot be agreed to. In this case, you would simply ask the person if they are willing to ‘try it out’, and see how it works for them. Stay in the spirit of coaching. What happens if someone forgets their agreement? Use your best coaching skills to support the person and the group.

Next time I’ll share the third step of a coaching group, which is “the content.” The coach provides thought provoking questions or jumping off points related to the group theme. In order to do this with ease, we’ll discuss a couple of pieces that need to be put into place. Stay tuned!

Karen Cappello is what Malcolm Gladwell calls an “outlier” in Group Coaching. Coach Karen has spent over 10K hours in the past ten years learning about, being trained on, and conducting group coaching and facilitation. In March 2013, Karen Cappello is premiering a Group Coaching Practicum and Certification for coaches wanting to create deep and quality coaching experiences at an affordable investment for their clients…with a spiritual foundation. Coach Karen truly enjoys connecting with other coaches on Facebook and Twitter!