Group coaching and individual coaching are the two coaching models most coaches use. When you’re creating your program, it can feel like a lasting commitment to pick only one, as though you’re shutting the door on other possibilities.
So how does anyone choose? Which one is best for you and your clients?
In this article, we’ll weigh the advantages of group coaching vs individual coaching, the two most popular coaching models. We’ll talk about the differences, the advantages, and which niches might benefit which coaching plan most.
Are you ready to decide on a coaching program you can feel great about?
I know you said yes, so let’s get started.
Group Coaching vs. Individual Coaching: What’s the Difference?
Group coaching generally consists of a coach who works with a group of clients. A group’s size can range from an intimate few to a hundred, depending on the program and the demand for that coach’s services.
Individual coaching consists of one-on-one sessions. Time with a client could range from once a week to once a month and may or may not be paired with other features, like direct messaging or email.
Some of the main differences between individual and group coaching include the following:
- Focus: Your focus in group coaching is on general issues and skills; even when coaching an individual in a hot seat, the coached individual becomes a lesson for the whole group. In one-on-one coaching, your focus is specific to that one client’s needs.
- Interactions: In individual coaching, your interaction is limited to one client. But in group coaching, you have interactions between you and the group, you and individual clients, and clients within your group. Group interactions are more dynamic and more complex.
- Cost: Individual coaching generally costs more than group coaching. If your ideal client doesn’t have as much money, this can limit your choices to group coaching, or you can offer both, so there’s an option for different income levels.
- Personalization: Individual coaching is personalized, making responding to your client’s needs more straightforward. With a group program, you must consider the group’s needs, motivations, goals, and challenges.
- Accountability: With an individual program, accountability is direct, and failure to follow through can lead to fewer breakthroughs. Accountability is more challenging to track in group programs.
- Tools: While both require online tools, individual coaching requires fewer. As you weigh the pros and cons of individual vs. group coaching, be sure to research the different coaching platforms to find which best supports your needs.
Individual coaching offers a highly personalized experience with focused attention and support. Group coaching provides community and collaboration. It can provide an experience that builds trust so clients in a group program may pursue individual coaching.
Advantages of Group Coaching
If you want to create a good coaching program with a large, dynamic group of clients, group coaching might be right for you. This option offers several advantages.
Group Programs Serve a Larger Client Base
Group coaching lets you coach more people, which is an excellent fit for anyone whose dream involves a greater impact. It’s also easier to scale, so you can meet rising demands for your coaching.
They Let Clients Learn From Each Other
In group programs, your clients often have a chance to learn from the struggles of others. When one of your clients feels alone with a challenge but opens up about it, you may discover that others can relate. These exposures can be eye-opening because you only need one brave person to create massive shifts for everyone.
They Allow Clients to Support and Encourage Each Other
Some coaches work with groups that experience a significant failure rate, like new business owners or first-time managers. In that case, a group program can be a perfect fit for members to support and encourage each other.
They Foster Diversity
Group programs are great at amassing people with different perspectives, like different ways of seeing the world and others, different backgrounds, and languages. These differences can challenge beliefs and thinking. It can also demonstrate what the same principles or concepts look like in diverse situations.
They Encourage Celebration
Nothing motivates the group more than seeing someone win. Your clients may join you because they trust that you can do it. But they may only believe they can do it once they see someone closer to their situation achieve success.
Which of these advantages speaks to you most?
Advantages of Individual Coaching
Some coaches have clients willing and able to pay for quick results with minimal time investment. If that describes you, a one-on-one coaching program can be the right choice. This option lets you direct your time and advice based on their needs.
Let’s look at the advantages of individual coaching programs.
Individual Programs Offer Greater Personalization
Your time with your client is focused entirely on them. This personalization means you can skip past any content they don’t need and focus more time within each coaching session on where you see opportunities for significant shifts. You’ll also get to know them more intimately as you coach.
They Offer Confidentiality
If you’re coaching on a topic where there could be shame or that could tie in to a person’s feeling of identity, individual coaching can feel safer. While discussing these topics, people often feel vulnerable, and group coaching may not be ideal.
Confidentiality may also be required when openly discussing business details and strategies or how to resolve difficulties with employees.
They Are More Flexible
Individual coaching can be perfect if you don’t have a mapped process yet or are still working it out because you can use your experience to respond to your clients’ needs. As you work with more clients, a signature framework or process will often fall into place.
They Offer Deeper Exploration
In individual coaching, you have the freedom to follow your intuition. This can mean asking questions whenever something seems off. As you pay attention to body language or emotional reactions, you can identify those triggers that indicate your client needs more work.
They Allow Greater Accountability
Individual coaching allows you to check a client’s progress on a consistent schedule. This follow-through can be incredibly powerful in securing results for your clients.
They Offer Faster Results
The nature of individual coaching, with its personalization and follow-up, often means your clients reach their desired results faster. This acceleration leads to incredible testimonials.
Lindsay Tobias is an example of a nutrition coach who offers an individual coaching program called Keep Your Plants On. This topic could work with either group or individual coaching depending on the client, coach, and desired results.
Who Should Create a Group vs Individual Coaching Program?
Group coaching programs are ideal for programs where your clients are entering a new set of skills. Clients can waste your time and theirs if they don’t know enough to ask good questions.
Group programs may be even better for introverted clients or clients who might feel nervous opening up in a one-on-one session because there’s less focus on them.
The standout feature of group coaching is the collaboration and supportive community. If this can be a feature that helps your clients
Group coaching is also ideal for you if you prefer the energy of a group and like how it’s easier on your schedule.
Niches That Work With Group Coaching Programs
Let’s look at the niches that are most common in group programs:
- Business coaches: New entrepreneurs or small business owners often face the same challenges and need to learn the same skills. Group coaching can effectively leverage the community to learn, grow, and support each other.
- Leadership coaches: Leadership coaches often work with new leaders and managers to improve common skills needed for transitioning from individual performers to leaders. This includes topics like communication, influence, and motivation.
- Personal development coaches: Groups work well for coaches who focus on specific outcomes like self-image, fostering creativity, or recovery from a difficult situation. This creates a supportive environment for clients who choose similar goals.
- Career coaches: Career coaches who work with clients at similar career stages or who share a similar journey can learn skills and build a network. For example, you might have a group of clients transitioning from teaching in schools to a corporate career.
Individual coaching, on the other hand, is generally best for coaches who work from a loose set of principles and concepts or those who specialize in identifying a particular client’s needs. It is also preferred when confidentiality is critical or your clients desire a more personal coaching service.
Niches That Work With Individual Coaching Programs
Let’s look at the niches most commonly delivered as individual programs:
- Executive coaches: While entry-level managers do well in group programs, executive coaching is often more suitable for one-on-one sessions. This setup lets you deliver targeted coaching and quicker results.
- Life coaches: If your talent lies in developing quality relationships with your clients and discovering specific barriers and strategies, an individual coaching program may be your best option.
- Health and wellness coaches: Individual programs are best if you have clients who have tried everything and you’re exceptionally skilled at pinpointing the root causes for specific issues.
- Job coaches: For those helping a wide variety of individuals use various strategies to get a job, an individual program lets you offer more personalized help.
Which Is Best for You?
If you’re still undecided, here are some questions you can ask yourself to get more clarity:
- What are your coaching goals?
- Do you want to have a wider reach?
- Do you want to build strong and intimate relationships?
- What are the needs of your clients?
- Is community a beneficial aspect of their transformation?
- Is community a distraction, and are their needs better met with more in-depth one-on-one sessions?
- Where are your clients in their journeys?
- Are they new? Will general content provide context and expand their thinking?
- Are they experienced? Will personalized troubleshooting provide a needed breakthrough?
- What resources do your clients have?
- Is a less expensive group program the most they can afford?
- Can they invest enough for one-on-one help?
- How do you like to spend your time?
- Do you like planning and creating presentations?
- Do you like talking directly with your clients?
Continue asking these and related questions to make a decision that’s best suited for your program. Also, if you can’t easily decide between the two programs, you can offer both group and individual programs.
Consider also the possibility of a hybrid group program that offers limited one-on-ones. These individual sessions, like onboarding and offboarding sessions, could be part of the program. Alternatively, you could offer a reduced price for individual sessions to those in your group.
There’s no doubt that this is a big decision! But it’s not necessarily an irrevocable one. Consider your first attempts as tests. See how you and your clients like your program and switch it up if it doesn’t work. Like testing anything, whether a new cake recipe or a new painting technique, it’s likely to end up with something you love that isn’t perfect. And you’ll learn many lessons.
Your next test will do better, as will the next. Eventually, you’ll have a beautiful cake, an exquisite piece of art, or a coaching program you and your clients positively love—as long as you don’t give up.
- Which program are you leaning towards?
- What are your reasons for preferring that modality?
- When are you starting?
Share your answers below!