Coaching Circles Deliver Value to Businesses

Nowadays, enterprises need to adjust quickly to market fluctuations. So, providing managers with the tools needed to keep pace is vital to corporate success. Coaching Circles leverage organizational knowledge, help leaders address shortcomings, and foster open, honest,
inclusive collaboration.

Traditionally, management training followed a strict, regimented routine. Companies hired outsiders who presented information to employees, usually in a formal classroom setting. Here, the focus is on coaching a group of people toward a common goal, such as learning
how to use a new software program or understanding business process changes.

Coaching Circle Offer a New Way to Learn

Coaching Circles take a different approach to addressing immediate, perhaps unexpected, problems. In this case, a small group of peers meets and essentially brainstorms. The idea is based on the premise that wisdom is already in the organization. Managers possess great practical expertise, and every enterprise should exploit it.

While the technique can take many forms, its design typically centers on enhancing a small group of individuals’ skill sets. Coaching Circles commonly guide a handful of individuals to new realizations. The participants support each other, creatively problem-solve, develop coaching skills, and break down individual and corporate barriers.

The Coaching Circle Process

So, how does the training occur? These interactions can be held in person, on the phone, and online. Each coaching circle usually consists of 6-8 participants and a coach facilitator. Sometimes coaching circles are larger, but it is not recommended to go over 12 participants.

Coaching Circle sessions can take various formats, from having a predetermined agenda with specific topics to discussing challenges that participants spontaneously bring forth. Some sessions may follow a consistent format, which could manifest in numerous ways. For instance,
sessions might revolve around managing teams effectively during times of layoffs or offer novel insights into commonly encountered difficulties like identifying new prospects. On the other hand, some sessions could explore uncharted territory and focus on evaluating an organization’s DEIBAJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, Accessibility, and Justice) initiatives.

Facilitated group discussion follows. The coach facilitator is responsible for keeping the conversation on track, offering suggestions for further discussion, and creating a record of action items.

This format has three primary benefits. First, it provides a setting where managers can become thought partners and integrate what works for others into their toolboxes. Second, it ensures that the coachee is empowered with possible solutions to address the problem.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the process often helps to push managers beyond their set, usually well-honed, pat tendencies. Instead, they see issues in a new light, explore different possibilities, and become more inclusive.

Create an Inclusive Workplace

Traditional classroom training was designed to transfer technical skills from the facilitator to the group. Coaching Circles center more on the complexity found with today’s interpersonal relations.

Possible areas that can be examined include cognitive blind spots, biases, rigid belief systems, and closed mindsets. The reality is that each person perceives the world from a different vantage point, one shaped by their own life experiences, which are unique. As a result, individuals must acknowledge the bias from their past experiences, try to understand how it may limit their perceptions, and adjust their outlooks.

Also, employees develop unconscious behavioral patterns and habitual mental responses. In these cases, employees are often not aware of how their past experiences shape their present outlook. They may reach unjust and ineffective deductions.

Coaching Circles are designed to create and support inclusive leadership development. Critical reflection and rational discourse are key elements in the process. These activities encourage participants to consider how their worldviews limit how they perceive, understand, feel, and respond to others in the workplace. The awareness helps participants overcome habitual, biased ways of thinking. Singular, rigid worldviews and prejudgments are replaced with more open, expansive, flexible outlooks.

Coaching Circles Deliver Many Benefits

As a result, individuals typically gain more insight, wisdom, and practical practices than legacy training. The process centers on practical, proven advice and not on theoretical approaches. Participants leverage the real-world experience of their peers.

Coaching Circles offer a powerful mechanism to:

  • Develop new competencies
  • Establish peer support
  • Provide a mechanism for collaborative and continuous learning
  • Change behaviors
  • Drive inclusion throughout the organization

This self-sustaining blended learning methodology minimizes classroom time but maximizes training impact. Coaching Circle members gain insight and awareness of their own actions; learn from the experiences and knowledge of others; and give and receive peer support, which sparks meaningful behavioral change needed to reach organizational goals.

Logical Extensions of Coaching Circles

Given these outcomes, many organizations have integrated coaching circles into their corporate business practices and directly into their management and leadership development programs. A few examples of how coaching circles are used include:

  • Facilitating the onboarding of new managers
  • Supporting newly promoted business leaders in managing their professional transition
  • Accelerating the implementation of new business priorities
  • Supporting the development of high-potential women and leaders of color in legacy business environments
  • Breaking down silos and fostering collaboration among functional leaders


Potential Pitfalls

However, the process must clear potential hurdles balancing the need for authentic communication versus maintaining the company image can be challenging. Sometimes, the process falls into groupthink, where individuals do not feel comfortable freely making points that may be viewed as unfavorable or not in line with corporate thinking. The presence of cross- department coaching circles and an assurance that the group’s interactions remain confidential facilitate a degree of openness that is usually absent in other training methods.

Groups may not mesh. To keep the conversation flowing, a Coaching Circle should bring together peers operating at approximately the same level within an organization.

Companies face significant competitive pressure. Many enterprises struggle to provide their business managers with the tools to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions. Coaching Circles effectively deliver needed training efficiently, often leading to significant changes in
mindset and developing a more inclusive, collaborative workplace.

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True Synergy, Inc