“I have heard colleagues in another organization talk about using group coaching as a method for leadership development. How does it work compared to other leadership development processes?”

This is a typical question from leaders unfamiliar with group coaching. I will lay out the basics for you.

The Bottom Line up Front:

Group coaching is a tool used to develop individuals in a cohort format. Individuals develop, the cohort potentially builds a culture, and it is less costly than one-on-one coaching. It can be done in the organization with less time away and has an individual focus.


Think of a group of individuals whose leadership you want to develop. It may be high potentials at the same level. What are the typical methods you might use? A course, series of workshops, conferences, individual coaching, and mentoring are common choices.

Now calculate the cost of each of the above in expenses and time away. As we dig into group coaching keep those number in mind. Here is the structure of a typical group coaching engagement.

Group coaching consists of a cohort focused on their own leadership development goals. Those goals are achieved through a series of group, individual, and peer-coaching sessions coupled with readings and reflection over a period of 4-6 months. Think of a cohort of 6-12 participants at roughly the same level in your organization.

This could be a group of new hires onboarding or high potential leaders across your organization.

The coaching begins with each participant having an individual session with the coach to establish the participant’s goals. Two more individual coaching sessions will occur during the program, one at the midway point and one at the conclusion of the program.

Over the program there will be group coaching sessions that will cover topics ranging from creating a leadership vision, individual assessments, leadership skill development, values clarification, personal mission statement, developing coaching skills, and fostering supportive relationships, to name a few. Group sessions meet every two or three weeks. Between the group coaching sessions participants will complete focused readings, take assessments, complete actions, and participate in a peer coaching session.

A common group coaching engagement is for 6 sessions. With a 3-week interval between meetings that would take approximately 5 months.

Overall every participant will receive the following:
3- one-on-one coaching session with a professional coach
4 – one-on-one peer coaching sessions
6 – two-hour group coaching sessions

That is 9 coaching sessions (6 group and 3 individual for 15 total hours) with a professional coach. I also teach peer coaching with each cohort. Between sessions peers meet for an hour to coach each other to practice coaching skills and have an accountability partner.

The Benefits

The leaders in the group are developing themselves based on their own goals and aspirations. In a cohort they build key relationships with the other participants. This has proven to be very valuable to the organization. Envision the group you are considering to participate in group coaching. What would be the benefit of those leaders building solid relationships?

Other considerations are the cost and time. Group coaching can be 30-40% less than one-on-one coaching for the same number of participants. Time; having group coaching sessions in the workplace for several hours a month reduces travel costs and more importantly time away.

This is leadership development done in the context of the work environment of the participants. Very valuable.

Consider adding group coaching to the mix of leadership development methodologies you are using today.

“This position is a great fit; I can’t wait to start.”

“How do you know?”

“From my research. I networked deep into the organization, was able to spend a day visiting, and even talked to alumni. In those meetings I focused on five specific criteria; expectations of me, how they will utilize my strengths, their plan for my development, how my voice will be heard, and the alignment of my mission and purpose.”

The five elements are directly from Gallup’s Wellbeing at Work Study. Gallup identified these as the highest priority engagement elements for the workforce. The question in a transition is: “What do you look for in each of these elements?” Below are considerations for anyone in a transition to consider.

Think about taking some time to write questions that will allow you to discover the truth as you conduct your search. Information meetings, interviews, visits, and research will present opportunities to reveal the answers.

According to Gallup less than 50% of the workforce knows what is expected of them. What does that mean for you in your search? Maybe seeking out how closely the position description matches the actual requirements. Talking with your prospective boss, individuals in the actual or similar positions. Possibly networking with alumni of the organization. All are ways to drill down on your roles, responsibilities, and limits of authority.

Less than one third of the workforce surveyed agreed that they use their strengths every day. My first question for you is; what are your strengths? Next question; what does it look like for you to use those strengths? Understanding not only what they are but how you use them is critical knowledge. If building relationships is a key strength, is that in a remote environment or in person? What kind of input will you have in shaping how you will utilize those strengths in this position?

Gallup’s data emphasizes the importance of development in the mindset of millennials, the largest population in the workforce. Individuals want to be developed and they want to know someone personally cares about their development.

I coach in organizations that assign high potentials a coach, a mentor, and a sponsor. That is a focus on development. What do you need to progress and how will you be supported; more education, training, certifications, credentials?

Being Heard
Less than 25% of those surveyed feel their opinions are valued in the workplace. Everyone wants to be heard. What kind of access to leadership will you have, at what frequency, and will your input be acted on or ignored? Being listened to equals being respected. What is the culture of respect and listening at the organization you are examining? This can be a very easy element to research.

Mission and Purpose
Ninety percent of individuals in the workplace have a mission and/or purpose important to them. Yet only one third feel their personal mission and purpose aligns with their organization. Yikes! Think about what you value most. If those values could be fulfilled in your profession every day, what would be the impact on your life?

Work might not feel like work.

Consider developing a question bank and methodology to reveal the answers for each element. This is more than simply getting answers to questions; it is building insight into an organization. Keep these five elements top of mind as a guide and add it to your decision criteria as you search for what is next.

Hospitalized for incapacitating pain from shingles and in isolation for being COVID positive, Renee felt she was on an island. The continuous pain and medication had her in a fog. She lost track of days and remembers nothing from medical staff visits.

“Thankfully I had my sister advocating for me. She engaged the staff via phone to stay apprised of my progress. She also related my previous medical issues to them, assisting in my care. I would not have progressed as quickly without her.”

Advocates speak on our behalf, represent, support us, and present our views when we cannot.

We could all benefit from someone like Renee’s sister in our professional lives. When and how should we act like Renee’s sister in the professional realm.

Professional Advocacy

When I refer to professional advocacy, I am not referring to employees advocating for their company’s brand. I am referring to a leader advocating for an individual group, or team.

Who is advocating for you? In every organization there are conversations constantly going on about us, that we are not involved in. Leaders, supervisors, and managers are in a continuous cycle of measuring organizational performance. Which means they are measuring our performance. You are part of those discussions.

In your leadership role, how often are you talking about individuals, their performance, and your plans for them?

All the time.

When someone is in the room advocating for a person, how does that change the conversation? Think of the last meeting you participated in where a person was advocating for another. What was the impact.

  • How did it confirm or eliminate assumption?
  • How did it change the opinion of the people in the room?
  • How did the someone gain or lose an advantage?

Advocacy is another person expressing your views, wishes, rights, or preferences. We all could benefit from an advocate, ensuring our concerns, performance, and preferences are accurately represented.

Here are a couple of essential questions:

  • Who is advocating for you and why?
  • What do you need to do to ensure they advocate as you want them to?

The Personal Perspective

Think of the team you lead and consider the two essential questions.

Who are you advocating for and why?

I think a better question may be, how well are you advocating for each team member and why?

Each team member is on a different career path and has different needs. Do you know each member well enough to advocate well for them?

This leads into the second essential question.

What do you need to know from each team member to advocate for them? In today’s workplace, there have been a lot of changes. Some folks want to be supported in creating a hybrid work schedule, working part time in the office and part time at home. Some are looking for promotions. Others, development and growth without a promotion.

How well are you representing them and their needs?

Advocacy is a powerful leadership tool when done correctly. It has the potential to build a strong and cohesive team.

Ever have a colleague share how another person advocated for you in a meeting? How did that feel?

How can you best represent those you lead and how can you ensure others accurately advocate for you?

What is your BHAG? BHAG is Jim Collins’ acronym for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

Big goals are great to have, yet can feel overwhelming when you look at them in their entirety. How do you start and then maintain progress?

Here are three considerations to help you get started and maintain progress. The concepts are; Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Fail Fast, and Agile Program Management.

Before we start, put your BHAG at the forefront of your mind and assess how these might apply.

A Minimum Viable Product   is a concept from Lean Startup focusing on creating a version of your product that will allow you to learn the most with the least effort. Here is an example.

I facilitate a class for Veterans who want to start a business. One student had the goal of starting a nonprofit to house homeless female veterans with children. Her vision was a 15-unit apartment building, housing the veterans and children, and assisting them with navigating the VA for services. Pretty big goal.

What would be an MVP? She narrowed her concept to be; having her nonprofit structure established and a room in her house approved to house one veteran with a child in her house funded by VA benefits. A very scaled-down version to prove her concept that she could learn from.

What’s a minimum viable product for you?

If you are considering a career transition, what would be an MVP for your transition?

It might be a completed resume, LinkedIn profile, and starting to network and hold informational meetings. The least amount of effort to produce a product to learn from.

“Fail Fast” is another Lean Startup term focused on quick incremental development and iteration. Find out what does not work, adjust, and iterate on the change. I think of this consideration as finding boundaries or the “No’s”. “No, I am not doing that.”

Chris Voss the author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your Life Depended on It, talks about the power of a “No”. That is when the negotiation starts because you have found a limit or boundary. A “No” closes a door and helps define that path forward.

In business a “No” may be the limit on available funding, working with a supplier, or partnerships. In a career transition, it may be the requirements for a position. To work in this field requires specific credentials. No credential creates a boundary and limit.

Agile Program Management, which originated in 2001, is a tool developed to deal with projects in a complex and fast-moving environment. It is built on the concepts of effective processes, iteratively delivering working products, collaboration, and the ability to adjust to changes.

To me, this means; Incremental delivery, regular rigorous check-ins, and adjustments to changes in the environment. This means listening to what the results/data are telling you and being willing to change. Ever work with someone committed to their original plan no matter what the interim results are telling them? Hard to watch.

How would you implement this with your BHAG? How often will you measure your progress; weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly?

Think about this example. If your goal is a 20% revenue increase year-over-year, how would these three considerations be applied?

MVP – What is the vehicle that will generate the increased revenue; A new product, service, or process? What is the minimum required to test your concept with the least effort?

Fail Fast – What worked and did not work to generate the desired results, where are the boundaries? Knowing what you are unable to do, is important data.

Agile Program Management – Put your learning to use.  Evaluate the data, make adjustments, and iterate.

Time to get started on your BHAG. Make your first step defining the increments in your process;

  1. define your MVP,
  2. consider the boundaries to test
  3. set the frequency to evaluate, adjust, and iterate.

Now go pursue your BHAG. Publish your first podcast, write that first blog, take a short internship, start exploring a new career, or start that business.

“I was promoted to manager of the IT department 6 months ago. We have almost 40 people in 4 branches and this is my assessment. We are not proactive; we get the work done that is requested. However, we are too reactive, I want us going to our customers showing them how we can assist them to improve their performance with our support. I also feel I am pulling information rather than the team bringing the data to me”

“An example of being proactive would be going to a customer and making them aware that we can replace or improve legacy systems, or add new technology. I also would like to see the different branches collaborating on projects.”

“The last example is how our weekly Monday and Friday meetings are conducted. Monday, we start with goals for the week and Friday with what we accomplished. I am running too much of the meetings and I am pulling information rather than it being pushed to me. It is so frustrating.”

These are the feelings of a client I am coaching. He wants to work on behavior changes for himself to get the team to be more proactive and take ownership of the performance of the division.

Here is what he is working on:

First, is some reorganization. He is taking the leaders of the four branches and making them a team, responsible for reporting on all the projects in the division. The team will have the requirement to be cognizant of all aspects of all the projects; the technology, lifecycle, budget, and possible upgrades. Not only the projects in their branch.

The goals are no surprises, engagement with the customers, and being ahead of the lifecycle issues, take ownership of the projects and relationships with the customers. A major goal is instilling a mindset of proactivity and keeping pace with new technology. The team will also be charged with increasing collaboration amongst the branches to better employ the resources of the division.

To incentivize the team, he will evaluate the four team members on the performance of the team, not as individuals. This is to ensure interdependency. He is making the work these four individuals do as a team more important than the work they do in their branches. He is expecting some growing pains here.

He is also changing his behavior at the weekly meetings. His goals are to have the leadership team run the meetings and reduce his level of talking. This is to give the leadership team ownership of the meeting.

The big principles being incorporated

  • Providing a common purpose for the branch heads
  • Delegating responsibilities to the leadership team
  • Increasing the interdependence of the four branch heads

This is not without challenge. Stepping back, setting expectations, and allowing the leadership team to execute will be a significant change for my client. He realizes that his constant pulling of information, problem-solving, and direction, has contributed to the current mode of operation. He has to be willing to accept pushback and potentially a drop in performance while the division adapts.

I am interested to hear how you might have dealt with a similar situation or your recommendations.  Write some thoughts in the comment section so we can share it with the community.

I am sitting at my desk looking at my professional space, office, computer, bookshelf, and files and see things that need some cleaning. It’s March, we just sprung our clocks ahead, so I decided to do some “Spring Cleaning”.

I have to admit, I feel better and am more productive that it is done. Now, I need to keep it in good shape and reap the benefits.

Look at your space. What has been holding you back and what would be the impact if you took care of some of those nagging items?

Here are my actions and possible considerations.

What frustrates you the most about your computer? For me it is my email. It interrupts me, takes me off task, and refocuses my attention. My goal was to streamline my process for dealing with email. Minimal time, minimal touches of an email, and the ability to find threads and references easily. What did I do?
– Reviewed my folder system, making sure it is easy for me to find reference emails
– Unsubscribed from any source I rarely read.
– Turned off notifications. All the beeps, banners, and numbers informing me how many unread emails await me are gone.
– Created rules for emails i.e., a rule for emails I know I will read later automatically go to a read folder. It takes them out of my “action” inbox.
– I am working on setting times each day to deal with my email. Stop being interrupt driven and be more intentional. That is a work in progress.

Computer Security
My next concern was my computer security. How is yours? I reassessed my home network. How is my firewall configured, malware, security software, passwords, VPN, and other network devices? I am happy to say I was in pretty good shape.

As a business owner I have cyber insurance, which provided me with some very good guidance on my requirements. If you are a on a government contract you must meet the cyber security requirement outlined in NIST Special Publication 800-171. Some easy light reading for your nightstand.

If you know a good company that affordably assists small businesses with network, cyber security, and meeting NIST 800 requirements at small business prices, please pass it along in the comments section.

Data Backup
The final task on my computer was my data security. How is your data backed up? If your computer crashed, would you recover all your data and how long would it take? I was backed up to a local hard drive and the cloud. My local drive is extinct and no longer being supported. After significant research I am backed up to two cloud sites. For a very reasonable cost, I have two sites with 10TB each of space backing up our network. For me, well worth the peace of mind. Here is one resource to get you started on your research.

Physical Space
I found this task, once complete very satisfying. All those small piles are gone, old files shredded, and I started digitizing records. I am working on being a lot more digital. This is also a work in progress. I still have paper files and will never be 100% digital. However, I am trying to be more digital moving forward.

I added something to my workspace to make me happy. On my computer I now have a background that makes me smile every time my computer comes to life.

If you are looking for a resource to support you in your quest for organization and productivity, look at David Allen’s, GTD organization. GTD stands for Getting Things Done. He has a book, podcast, blog, and other resources.

Take these normal seasonal breaks as a time to reflect on what is going well.
– What do you need to keep doing?
– What do you need to stop doing?
– What do you need to start doing?

Spring ahead to a new season of productivity!

“No way I was going to say something after the boss gave her opinion to start the meeting. But, I will tell you, her solution was off the mark.”

“I am thankful that Julie pushed back, it made it easier for everyone to speak up.”

“I am so frustrated with this team. Once Bob gets going in a direction, anyone challenging his approach is ostracized. Hence, nobody challenges him and we are ineffective.”

Is peer or superior pressure so powerful that professionals, who may be experts, fail to speak up?

It sure is and science proves it.

We have lost spacecraft, aircraft, injured and killed individuals because no one spoke up. Those are the big events. Small events create nonproductive and toxic work cultures. Think of a time when you did not speak up and knew you should have?

Let’s add some psychology for you to consider. Specifically, the propensity to conform or not conform, follow directions from authority figures and assume responsibility when not specifically directed.

The classic study conducted by psychologist Solomon Asch on conformity demonstrated the propensity to conform. He used a simple test comparing the length of lines.  The group consisted of all actors with one test subject. Actors unanimously gave wrong answers to test their influence on the subject.

With no pressure to conform, other than the public answers of other participants, 75% of the participants confirmed with a group, agreeing to a clearly wrong answer at least once. When asked multiple times 37% still gave the wrong answer. The same group when answering privately gave the wrong answer 1% of the time.

What about if ONE person in a group gave the correct answer, challenging the status quo? In a variation of the experiment when one person did not conform with the group, correct answers increased by over 60%.


How easy is it for one person to dissent in your organization?

The Milgram study is another famous experiment where individuals were tested on their propensity to follow directions from an authority figure. It was shown that individuals would administer a shock, potentially harming another person, for a wrong answer when under the direction of an authority figure.


How well does the culture in your organization support individuals challenging authority?

The final example is the Bystander Effect. Individuals in a crowd become non-acting bystanders because they assume another individual will take responsibility and act. This is also referred to as Diffusion of Responsibility. In an organization this is non-action. In CPR training we are taught to direct a specific person to call 911; “You call 911” rather than “someone call 911” which has been proven to be ineffective.


Does the culture in your organization allow individuals to be bystanders?

My take-aways for leaders:

  • The pressure to conform is real and individuals conform when they do not want to
    • Go along to get along
  • One non-conformist has a significant impact moving others to be non-conformists
    • I am glad she spoke up, I am not alone, I have an ally
  • Statements & direction from those in authority have real power
    • I am following orders and doing what the boss wants
  • Being in a group allows individuals to avoid taking responsibility
    • Someone else more capable than me will take responsibility for that


The three psychological phenomena are well-documented behaviors of humans and easily become part of organizational culture. How have they crept into your organization? I am sure you can readily share examples.

Consider the power of ONE to combat the above maladies. The power of you as the leader and the power of any ONE individual on your team.

As the leader of your organization considers how often you:

  • Speak first to make your opinions known to the group
  • Encourage team members to debate and disagree with you
  • Allow high performers or assertive team members to dominate meetings
  • Allow individuals to hide in the organization and defer responsibility


Consider the actions you could take to:

  • Allow any ONE to raise disagreements to leadership
  • Ensure any ONE feels comfortable to challenge dominate opinions
  • Develop a mindset that every ONE on the team seeks responsibility


What would be the impact on your organization’s culture if you embraced the power of every ONE?

Pick an incident in your workplace where you personally know someone, maybe you, who suffered negative consequences for speaking the truth.

Need a few high profile reminders: Al McDonald who recommended not to launch the space shuttle Challenger, Jessie Guitron uncovered fraud at Wells Fargo, Cynthia Cooper uncovered the WorldCom accounting fraud scheme, and Karin Silkwood, reported violations at a nuclear power plant.

If truthfulness and moral courage are such revered virtues, how come we have stories of threats, retribution, and having to tell the truth anonymously? Why did Congress have to create the WhistleBlower Protection Act in 2010?

Is there a truth you have wanted to speak about in the workplace but held back for fear of negative consequences? Some are around candid feedback, adhering to social norms, or not wanting to offend someone. What holds us back if truthfulness is so important?

Maybe more importantly, what is it that allows individuals to face their fears and act?

Moral Courage.

Martin Seligman calls it Moral Bravery, the force that “compels or allows an individual to do what he or she believes is right, despite fear of social or economic consequences.”

List the fears that have held you back from speaking the truth. Here is a short list; fear of not receiving a bonus, public embarrassment, loss of a friendship, loss of an opportunity, loss of money, social standing, ridicule, or being ostracized, are a few.

An additional consideration is the longevity of the negative consequences for being morally courageous. Speaking the truth can have lasting negative effects.

Do you have individuals in the organization you lead holding back truth? I would say we don’t know for sure, but probably. That leads to the next question.

How do you develop, enhance, and enrich moral courage in the organization you lead?

My opinion; when individuals are driven so far out of alignment with their values that they cannot stand it anymore they come forward. They can no longer live with themselves allowing this misalignment to occur.

The negative consequences no longer outweigh the burden on their conscience of failing to correct the wrong. Remember how Seligman defined moral courage; the force that
“compels or allows an individual to do what he or she believes is right.”

They can no longer bear to witness the wrong and take action in the face of known consequences.

In short, moral courage is the expression of one’s values.

Therefore, if you want an environment that supports individuals speaking the truth; educate, practice, and model values that support and reward, truth and transparency at every level.

Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Positive and negative culture.

Examining the marquee cases, we see the whistleblower’s actions as herculean. Making a decision that few were willing to make. What if the organizational cultures expected and rewarded individuals for highlighting concerns? Those issues would have never grown to significant proportions because the culture made it easy to say something.

The culture of these organizations allowed major issues to occur. The whistleblower was not the only person who saw the problem. They may have been the only person to highlight the problem.

What does your organization value? Does it value individuals who speak up and challenge each other? What behavior gets rewarded? On a scale of 1-10 grade the level of transparency. What issues are you reluctant to shed light on?

What is the message from the above answers?

Little things make the big things happen. Assess yourself and your organization. What is it about your culture that makes you and others feel uncomfortable? Identify the little problems within a culture and you should be able to predict the next big problem.

A transitioning O-6 was on a Skill Bridge internship in March of 2020 when the COVID shutdown forced his company to go to the remote/hybrid environment. Watching his peer’s reaction to the emergency, he realized he was better equipped to handle the situation than the long-tenured executives. He went to the company leadership, told them what he thought the organization needed, how he was equipped to handle it and asked to lead the team through the crisis. Guess who succeeded?


He learned what the organization needed and translated his military skills into terms they understood and they hired him.


Three principles to help guide your transition


  • Educate yourself on the needs of the organizations you are pursuing
  • Educate the organizations on your capabilities to fulfill those needs
  • Educate those considering you for a position how your leadership skills differentiate you


Leadership is the great differentiator and you have years of experience in high tempo, stressful, environments. Understand how your military leadership expertise and experiences fit the organizations and positions you are pursuing. However, leadership is not enough. Organizations are looking for knowledge and skills relevant to their industry.

Lessons learned from coaching many transitioning veterans:

  • Most veterans do not fully understand how private-sector corporations operate
  • You have to be able to relate your leadership skills directly to the positions you are pursuing
  • Military skills and experiences are often misunderstood and undervalued in the private sector
  • You have to educate those interviewing you that your skills and experiences directly fit the positions you are pursuing

Some corporations have completely mastered hiring veterans. Amazon and General Electric are two. Ask any veteran about Amazon and they will tell you about their Military Pathways Program. General Electric has a Junior Officer Leadership Program that is a two-year development program for separating junior officers.

These are examples of companies fully embracing what veterans bring to the table and make the transition easy. Other easy transitions are companies directly supporting the military. Many veterans will take these paths, putting their well-honed skills to use.


What about those who want to do something completely different than their military experience?


Take control of the process and become a student and an educator; a student of yourself and the organizations you are pursuing, and an educator to those in the organization. As a student build your understanding of first yourself, then organizations that interest you; their culture, how success is measured, and what is needed from you. As an educator, educate decision-makers in the organization on your capabilities and what you will contribute.


Considerations for Your Transition

Consider when to start. The transition takes time. I have worked with veterans who began planning 24 months prior to their transition to several who waited until the end. Two years is not too early. Think of your transition as a one-to-two-year distance learning degree.


Consider how to translate your military skills to the private sector. If you are transitioning at less than ten years of service you have been an operator. Working directly in your specialty applying the military skills of your specialty; intelligence, flying, driving, diving, maintaining, and leading at the tactical level.


The more senior, the more of a generalist you become. Why, because in your leadership roles you are responsible for executing the operational mission. If you are near the twenty-year mark, it is likely you could readily fit into operations roles in the private sector.


Educate yourself on how your skills translate to the private sector.


Consider why a potential employer would be reluctant to hire you? What specific skills do they think you are missing? Often it is specific industry knowledge, skills, and experience. I have seen service members rejected because they lacked specific profit/loss reporting, financial, and supply chain experience required for positions.


Educate yourself on how to translate your military skills and experiences into private sector specifics.



Transitioning is an education. You are in a self-directed education program, learning about yourself, other organizations, and how you are the best fit. The better you translate your value and fit with private-sector corporations, the smoother the transition.


  • Know specifically what you bring to your next organization in their terms
  • Know specifically how your leadership differentiates you in their terms


Your first military to civilian transition gives you the rare opportunity to explore an entire world of options available for you. Prepare for it.

Long shifts, high patient loads, critical work, little appreciation, and feelings of being ineffective. Those are descriptors of medical professionals worldwide today. Medical professionals are burned out.

Definition by the World Health Organization:

  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Having negative feelings, cynicism towards their work
  • Lacking efficacy in their work

Symptoms of burnout are nearly twice as common among physicians than among US workers in other fields. A Washington Post survey reports 62% of healthcare workers to suffer from burnout.


If you are in a position to significantly reduce burnout in the medical community, would you do it? Let me help you with some data.


A randomized study published in 2019 in JAMA, documented the success of individualized coaching as one method to reduce burnout in the physician community.


The numbers are in brief. The physicians receiving coaching at the fifth-month mark showed a decrease in emotional exhaustion by 19.5% while the control group showed an increase by 9.8%. That is a difference of 28.3%. The absolute burnout rate decreased by 17.1% in the intervention group and increased by 4.9% in the control group. That is a difference of 22%.


What was the intervention? Six individual coaching sessions, one 1-hour session followed by five 30-minute sessions at intervals of 2-3 weeks. A total of 3.5 hours of coaching costing approximately $1400.


This study was conducted prior to the COVID pandemic. How do you think the burnout rates have changed over the past 2-years?


What are the costs of burnout? I will start with a list you can add or subtract from based on your personal experience. I recommend you estimate a price tag of burnout for your organization. You could do this for a small team or an entire health care facility.


Effects of Burnout                   Cost

  • Turnover                         5-1.2x annual salary of individual being replaced
  • Medical errors
  • Absenteeism
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Family conflict
  • Workforce wellness


There are a number of interventions to address burnout starting at system-wide interventions and ranging to individual facilities, small teams, individual leaders, and individuals affected. Coaching is one intervention that has been proven effective and worthy of consideration.


Coaching Considerations

There are several coaching interventions worth consideration. They are individuals which is one-on-one coaching. One coach per individual to work one-on-one with that individual. Group coaching is coaching individuals in a cohort format. Each individual is working on their individual goals. The last is team coaching, coaching the team towards its goals.


Individual coaching one-on-one with the individual affected has been proven to be effective. The top consideration for individual coaching should be with direct supervisors. Why? Because supervisors set the culture and work conditions of health care workers and directly control many drivers of burnout:

  • Workload
  • Control
  • Rewards
  • Community
  • Fairness
  • Values

Intervention at this level has the greatest potential for direct impact


Group coaching could allow an organization to save significant expenses by bringing a cohort of six to twelve individuals together for coaching. This could be for direct supervisors, executives, team leaders, or individuals on the line most affected by burnout. A positive secondary effect of group coaching is the bonding and cohort mentality that is formed. It has the potential to break down barriers and build cohesion within the organization.


Team Coaching is an intervention with the team as the client and team performance as the metric. The coaching focuses on team objectives, structure, support, and team norms. Working with the team on the before mentioned areas can directly reduce the negative effects of the seven drivers within the team.



Create a pilot program to implement the coaching intervention with the potential for the greatest impact in your area of responsibility. That may be individual coaching for yourself, team members, or the whole team. Group coaching for a selected cohort or team coaching for the team.


Gather some data and set metrics to measure. Gauge the level of burnout you and your team are dealing with as one of your starting metrics. Determine other metrics to measure your return on investment. Think, workforce wellness, medical errors, job satisfaction, patient outcome, absenteeism. Put the intervention to the test with a small contingent that makes sense for 4-6 months and measures your results.


Cost considerations

Think of your professional development budget for courses, continuing education, conferences, and travel. Bring into your calculation hours away from the workplace and travel. Coaching is a low-impact intervention. In-person events can be arranged at your site. With current technology, virtual coaching has become the norm. It is even possible to make time for members of your workforce to be coached during a workday while on a shift. As an intervention, it is highly flexible and customizable to the needs of every organization and individual.


What would be the impact on you and your organization if you were able to reduce burnout by 20 percent?