The Power of 'Coaching Circles'

Tags: Federation, Young Adults, PR, Women

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Article reprinted with permission from Crain's Cleveland Business.

Life is busy. When you aren’t on deadline at work, you’re trying to schedule a happy hour with friends, or find time to volunteer with an organization you love. As young professionals, it can be difficult to find time to reflect on the accomplishments you’ve had and challenges you face in your professional, personal and volunteer life – “coaching circles” can help with that.

Coaching circles, also known as group coaching or coaching groups, are a structured meeting, at regular intervals, of a small group of individuals focused on exploring, reinforcing, and sustaining progress related to professional skills, achievements and challenges. Coaching circles are also about setting goals – members should state an action they will take to improve or try new suggestions provided during coaching.

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland first adapted the coaching circles model when Women’s Philanthropy offered this opportunity last year to empower the next generation of women leaders. In these mentor coaching groups, each coaching circle featured an experienced mentor who led small groups of diverse women in enhancing their leadership talents. Discussions ranged from gender biases, to leadership, to professional and personal development. Participants and mentors alike found the program beneficial and valuable.

Coaching circles have been so successful that it’s now being implemented internally here with Federation staff. I am part of an inter-office coaching circle, and meet with a group of four other colleagues monthly. This coaching circle model, known as a peer coaching group, is different – there’s no mentor, and each session is led by a different member of the group. This goes to show you that there’s no right or wrong way to create your own coaching circle at your organization or business.

Interested in trying it out for yourself? Here are some tips for coaching circles:

  • Take the ‘Vegas’ approach: What is said in the circle, stays in the circle. Confidentiality is of utmost importance. Simple as that.
  • Take it outside: Coaching can take place outside of the circle’s meetings. Members can follow-up after the meeting on suggestions they would like to discuss in greater detail.
  • Take it seriously: Coaching circles are geared towards advancing your career, your attitude and your life. It’s about taking control of your future. Make it meaningful.

As a young professional, I’ve seen tremendous value in participating in a coaching circle. It has helped me get to know colleagues I normally don’t interact with on a regular basis. It has become a time that I look forward to each month, where I can reflect on my accomplishments in my personal and professional life. And, when there’s a challenge placed in front of me, I know I can face it head-on, bring it to the circle and find a solution.

Rebecca Golsky is the manager of communications and public relations at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

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