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ATD Blog

Expanding Employee Development Through Group Career Coaching

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

“I know I want something more…I’m just not even sure where to start.”

“I feel lost; I think if I just had some guidance to help me, I could figure out what my next steps should be.”
“I’d like to stay with the company, but I don’t know what other options there are for me here.”

As a leader, you may have heard comments like these from your employees. Maybe you’ve even said them yourself. The “Great Resignation” brought such sentiments to the fore as individuals all over the US experienced an awakening, evaluating if their careers were living up to what they envisioned. Career paths are no longer the singular route they once were. Today they are fluid and dynamic with more opportunities for continuous change and evolution.

Often, when one faces a crossroads in their career, coaching provides a valuable outlet to explore and discover what changes may be necessary for career fulfillment. While managers can be a go-to resource for employee growth and development within their department, employees can be hesitant to share career ambivalence with their leader, which can lead to disengagement. By offering career coaching as a centralized approach rather than via a manager, employees can explore opportunities in other business areas, free from the constraints of their current leader.


One-on-one coaching, while effective, can also be a time-intensive and expensive proposition. The merit of these conversations cannot be matched through a training module. As an alternative, we can turn to a cohort-based style of learning through a program called Career Circles.


Career Circles is a 10-week group coaching program that teaches employees to own their career journey. It allows individuals to explore their interests, learn how to market themselves within the organization, and create a plan of action. Connecting with a group of like-minded individuals benefits participants by hearing others’ stories and experiencing a psychologically safe space to better understand themselves and their career paths. Much like Shelley Osborne wrote in the February 2023 TD article, In Good Company, the cohort-based style of learning “provides opportunities for learners to interact with and learn from others who may have different skills, experiences, and career paths—which can be inspiring, thought-provoking, and aspirational for employees in determining how to reinvent their role.” Osborne also highlights the opportunity to create culture and connection through cohorts, leading to greater overall business success.

Beyond these benefits, the program creates an inherent opportunity for those looking for stretch leadership opportunities by becoming facilitators. Approved individuals can participate in initial training and then be part of an ongoing roster of facilitators who help lead cohorts as their schedules allow. The organization receives support for providing needed development coaching and opportunities for those ready to become facilitators. It’s a win-win for many throughout the business. Group coaching and learning, like in the Career Circles program, is another tool that businesses can use to attract, engage, and retain talent, especially when facing market challenges.

For a deeper dive into group coaching, join us in San Diego on May 21 at the ATD 2023 International Conference & EXPO for the session Investing in Your Team Through Career Circles Group Coaching.

About the Author

Megan Hysell was a former behavioral health executive who loved leading people, but sorely missed the creativity and connection of her education roots. She made a mid-career shift and now facilitates trainings & team discussions with leading healthcare professionals at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She leads the Career Circles program there, inspiring others to own their career. Megan is currently a part time graduate student at Ohio University in Athens & lives with her 11-year-old daughter.

About the Author

Ankit Shah has more than ten years of experience in the DE&I and talent management, field within higher education, healthcare, and K-12 settings. He had the privilege of assisting underserved as well as underrepresented populations in his entire professional journey. Now, due to his diverse educational and professional journey, he can use all his experiences to work with the multi-generational professionals to assist with their diverse talent management needs at Columbus State Community College.

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