Coaches often ask about the difference between one-on-one and group coaching supervision. If you haven’t experienced it, this reflective practice for coaches can seem somewhat mysterious. Deciding whether to try it alone or in the company of others can be even more perplexing.

Describing what supervision does for you as a coach can be challenging. Supervision differs from coach training and mentor coaching. It’s tricky to distill this reflective, intuitive practice down to the nuts and bolts of process. Yet there is a shape and a science to professional supervision. Since in coaching teams you are focusing on systems, supervision in a group setting can mirror the complexity of the work you do.

Group or individual supervision?

While one-on-one and group sessions are the two primary forms available to team coaches, the structure of a supervision session can vary. At Novalda, supervision is formally led by an accredited coach supervisor or co-supervisors. 

Do you notice a preference for one-on-one or group environments right now? Do you know why you’re drawn toward a one-on-one versus a group environment? Perhaps you’d prefer a hybrid where both are available? 

  • When finances are a consideration, a group program can be more cost-effective.
  • The intimacy of one-one-one supervision may feel too intense, especially if you have less experience as a systems coach. For instance, you may wonder if you coach teams often enough to have sufficient cases to reflect on, or question if you’re talking about the right kind of cases.
  • On the other hand, a supervision group might feel too revealing. You might be concerned about a lack of confidentiality, or wonder if you’ll be allowed enough time to reflect as deeply as you like. 

Some coaches may expand their reflection through access to multiple perspectives, and appreciate the variety of cases and co-learning that a group environment can provide. Other coaches deeply value the focus on self-as-instrument that comes at a more expanded level in one-on-one supervision. Know that whichever you choose, or if you decide to go with a hybrid, both are extremely valuable.

Let’s explore how a reflective group setting might support and challenge team coaches to develop their capacity to work systemically with teams.

The process of group supervision

People often ask about the structure of a generalized group session. While there are a myriad of structures for supervision, this is an example of what your experience might be like in Novalda’s group coaching supervision sessions.

1 – Preparing for the supervision group

Generally supervisors set the timing and length and pace of sessions, and contracting around payment and commitment is pre-agreed. On occasion, the group forms and then the group together with the supervisors align on dates and pace. This is general good modelling for team coaches, so they notice how and when the contracting begins and the impact of the contracting on the engagement.

2 – Arriving in the reflection space

Each session begins with a check-in. This gives both supervisees and the group supervisors a chance to reflect on and share how they are individually arriving into the session. Together we then observe what we are noticing about the collective entity of the group, and what is present in the here and now.

This magical opening of the session, checking into what the system of the group is feeling, is again a model of how to check into the emotional field of a team. Taking it a holonic level further, the supervisors may inquire into how what is here for the group might be showing up in their client teams, organizations, industries and the world. A check-in not only helps to establish rapport, build connection, and set the tone for the session, it connects into the wider systemic field.

3 – Contracting on the relationship

As a group, you will be invited to check in with how you are being with each other in the session so far.

  • What do you want to celebrate and amplify?
  • What is missing or wants to be shifted?
  • As a group system, what do you need from the supervisors in this session?

Again, this is another modelling of effective coaching of teams, and an opportunity to tap into the relationship dynamics that are present. We can consider how previous group dynamics might influence how both supervisees and supervisors tend to enter and journey with groups, what information this holds for how we are working in this supervision space, and what that might mean for us and the systems we are working with.

4 – Focus and coaching cases

The bulk of the session is dedicated to co-reflecting on coaching cases, scenarios, or patterns brought forward by supervisees. Each supervisee coach brings a coaching case and shares it in summary, perhaps in the form of an inquiry, a tweet (140 characters or less) or  a metaphor. For instance, if the case was a book title or chapter heading, a song or a movie, what would it be? Note that the group does not need to know all the details to be able to reflect on the case.

The group aligns on where they will focus their co-reflections first. For instance, the group might decide to have each individual rate the urgency of having their case in the ‘spotlight’ using a scale of one to five,. They could vote on which case feels more resonant to each of them on this day. Perhaps they choose to amalgamate cases. Each group in each session gets to align on how the cases to be featured are chosen. In some sessions, two or three cases may be spotlighted. At other times, the group decides to stay and go deeper with one.This is yet more good modelling. When coaching systems, the topics and outcomes for the coaching need to be filtered, sieved and aligned on as a team before work continues.

5 – Contracting on how to reflect

The supervisee presenting the case is asked to share what is important about their case and why now, and how they might like to receive the co-reflections of their peers and supervisors. Again, this models how we can get permission from the team on how to explore a specific topic at hand. While both coaches and supervisors may be offered a range of ‘hows’, during the supervision journey the supervisee will be required to choose the how. One difference between coaching teams and group supervision is that the individual supervisee will choose for their specific case, rather than the group. Similarly, while the supervisor and coach will ask for what is wanted, they may also offer alternatives to expand range.

6 – Exploration and reflection on the coach’s focus 

Now it’s time to engage in a facilitated co-reflection of the presented cases. This might mean sharing observations, asking clarifying questions, and offering insights based on their own experiences in the here and now, along with their perspectives. Within the co-reflective process, the group as a whole will develop their capacity to notice what is coming up for them personally, for others and the group as a whole – and to examine how that might reflect what is happening with a system or systems that are being explored.

Supervision is not about offering advice. It is about the deeper gift of offering our reflections through the gift of attention.

7 – Applying systems thinking to analysis of coaching 

In supervision we apply a systemic lens to the cases shared. We examine various interrelationships, dynamics, and patterns within the system to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying systemic issues. This is also true of individual supervision. However, it can be particularly enlightening and powerful to have members of the group to play team members and/or actually notice the dynamics that get played out in the group and how that might apply to the particular case being presented.. Practicing this as part of supervision develops the capacity of both the supervisor and supervisee to do this in a systems coaching space too.

8 – Contracting on where we are and where we want to reflect next

After multiple rounds, the supervisee presenting the case is asked to share where they are now, and where and how they would like to co-reflect next. This process highlights and models how supervisees may best work with the teams they work with too. In a systems coaching engagement, we continuously check on what is being noticed in the moment and where the team wants to go next.

9 – Reflecting on practice

To reflect on and better understand options for coaching, the supervisee will share  insights they have gained on the case they presented. Each co-reflector will also share what they discovered and how specifically that may apply to the case they initially presented at the beginning of the session.. This meta-reflection as a group helps coaches to deepen their awareness and refine their approach.

Multiple Rounds: Another round may happen as another supervisee brings a case to light.

10 – Closing the reflection

Each session concludes with a closing reflection. Group members summarize key takeaways, insights, or reflective questions they may want to take forward with them. This may include what co-reflecting in this particular group at this particular moment might be bringing to their coaching practice. Finally, we end on how they are leaving the session from an emotional standpoint.

Again – all is in parallel to what happens in coaching teams and systems.

Supervision provides a parallel to the process with teams

Reflective practice can enhance and amplify the systems coaching skills you already possess. The structured environment of supervision in a group setting can significantly contribute to the your capacity to work with systems. This experience can support and challenge systemic development in a few ways:

Amplifying relationship dynamics that may parallel systems coaching cases

While a group is not a team, it is a system. As supervisors work with a group, they may model some of the processes, competencies and skills that are required to work with a team systemically. So the supervision process itself is a good model of how to work systemically. Having a system in the here and now of the supervision space – albeit a  group – will amplify relational dynamics that may parallel the systems the members of the group work with. Members of the group can also role play as members of teams in coaching case, allowing us to access more information about the system.

Multiple perspectives

In a group environment, coaches can receive feedback and insights from peers who may have different perspectives and experiences. This exposure to diverse viewpoints helps to broaden the understanding of systemic dynamics and consider alternative approaches to coaching within complex organizational systems.

We have also witnessed members of our coaching supervision groups connect with other potential co-coaches – an unexpected benefit of the group and our community.

Developing systems thinking capability

Group supervision often encourages coaches to adopt a systemic lens when reflecting on their coaching practice. Through discussions and cases, coaches may explore the interconnectedness of various factors within organizational systems and develop their ability to recognize patterns, leverage points, and unintended consequences of interventions. Reflecting with and learning from coaches working in completely different contexts – for instance, not-for-profit, government, and corporate settings – allows for cross-functional learning from one system to the next.

Experiential learning

Group supervision may include experiential exercises, roleplays, constellations, or simulations that simulate systemic coaching scenarios. These interactive activities provide opportunities to practice applying systemic principles and coaching competencies in a safe and supportive environment, helping to build confidence in working systemically.

 

Supervision hours are recognized as continuing professional development by the EMCC and ICF - magnifying glass

Coach credentialing bodies recognize coaching supervision as an important aspect in continuing your journey as a professional coach. The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) requires all coaches to maintain professional standards with coaching supervision. The International Coach Federation (ICF) recommends that all team coaches engage in professional coaching supervision and requires five to ten hours of supervision – dependant of path – to meet ICF Advanced Certification in Team Coaching (ACTC) requirements. You may submit up to 10 hours of coaching supervision (Continuing Coach Education or CCE units) toward credentialing or renewal. 

Coaching supervision offers a way to process the complexities of your coaching experience. It is an opportunity for support and development, and a resource for those seeking to deepen their understanding of relational dynamics. Through this experience, you can gain multiple perspectives, explore systems thinking in a range of contexts, and use the opportunity of the group to apply experiential learning to cases. 

Kerry Woodcock PhD, PCC, ORSCC, ACTC, EIA-SP, ITCA, ESIA, brings years of experience working with clients in systems of every size. She is a certified and accredited supervisor who also holds the ESQA for the Diploma in Team Coaching Supervision. As CEO of Novalda, Kerry develops core, collective and change leadership capacity in leaders, teams and organizations.

Curious about coaching supervision and oher supports for coaches?

If you’d like to learn more about Novalda’s supervision services, the Master the Art of Team Coaching program, ICF Core Competencies coach mentoring groups and other coach training programs, or want to know how Novalda can assist with ICF credential renewal – let’s talk! Schedule your complimentary consultation with Kerry today.

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    FAQ

    What is the purpose of coaching supervision?

    Coaching supervision holds an expansive space to reflect on your:

    • skills and effectiveness, increasing your capability to incorporate professional coaching competencies
    • ethics and standards as a professional, increasing your capacity to develop your ethical maturity, supporting you to be courageously authentic and compassionately wise with what your coaching practice presents
    • wellbeing, increasing your capacity to process what you meet in clients and clients’ systems and work from source rather than effort.

    How does supervision support professional development and continuing coach education?

    This reflective practice is an increasingly recognized method of supporting coaches as they continue to improve self-awareness and develop their capacity to reflect in the company of accredited coaching supervisors. The ICF and EMCC consider working with a coach supervisor to be an important part of continuing professional development (CPD).

    Novalda Coaching & Consulting Inc.