Professional coaches … build an on-going relationship using effective coaching skills to produce fulfilling results in all areas of the client’s life in which the client wishes to make improvements.(internationalinstituteofcoaching.org/coaching_definition.php).
The commonality in these definitions is that in order to be considered “coaching”, the relationship between client and coach must be ongoing, client directed, and results oriented toward personal fulfillment and improvement. Now that the concept and purpose of coaching has been established, what methods and practices are used to achieve this, and can it be adapted to the brief, intense duration of a retreat?
The Coaching Process
Research shows that variations on the coaching process and coaching models are as numerous as coaching specialties. Fortunately, the ICF has developed a set of core competencies which can be used as a widely accepted framework for managing the coaching process.
The eleven core competencies support ICF’s definition of the coach’s responsibility, which is:
- Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve;
- Encourage client self-discovery;
- Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies, and
- Hold the client responsible and accountable.
This is essentially the four step process in a coaching relationship. An effective coach, then, incorporates the competencies into each process to help the client achieve results:
- Beginning the coaching relationship on a professional and ethical level by adhering to guidelines and standards, and
- Establishing a clear agreement with the client about the relationship.
- Active listening, powerful questioning, and direct communication to clarify the client’s goals, and to support –Creating client awareness for facilitating the client’s self-discovery.
- Designing actions with the client that promote learning opportunities for growth including brainstorming and coaching tools.
- Assisting the client in planning and goal setting both for coaching and for achievement of the client’s goals.
- Providing methods to measure progress and holding the client accountable for that progress or lack of.
It is clear that this coaching process can be easily incorporated into the physical venues mentioned in the introduction above, and even adapted to the virtual venues. It is also clear that the process is meant to be
undertaken over a period of time to allow the client time to discover, grow, plan, set goals, and implement changes outside of the coaching environment.
One more coaching aspect should be explored before drawing a conclusion. The ICF coaching process is based on one-on-one coaching. Retreats, on the other hand, are generally held for groups of individuals. How does the coaching process outlined above function in a group environment?
Group Vs Individual Coaching
Group coaching is a relatively new subcategory in the coaching profession. As such, no standards or guidelines were found like those available on individual coaching. Comparative research for this paper was limited to publications by three leading coaches with extensive experience in the subcategory.
Master Certified Coach Ginger Cockerham defines group coaching as
a facilitated group process led by a skilled professional coach and created with the intention of maximizing the combined energy, experience, and wisdom of individuals who choose to join in order to achieve organizational objectives or individual goals.
In other words, group coaching uses the enhancement of group dynamics to help individuals achieve their goals and the coach facilitates this process.
Christine Thornton sees group coaching as
a small group of people meeting together in active participation on several occasions, for the purpose of learning, including developing new capacities and skills. Participants learn through exchange and interaction with each other.
Her focus also highlights the positive aspects of a group in serving each client. It is noted she mentions a time frame of several occasions.