My First Time! Facilitating a Coaching Session in a WhatsApp Group
August 28, 2020
I am not a huge fan of WhatsApp groups, but as I have been hearing often now, “Never waste a crisis!” This is a story about my experience using WhatsApp to run a coaching session! First, understand that while I appreciate the ability of apps like WhatsApp in keeping us all connected, I often experience fatigue at being “always on”. Thanks to my self-diagnosed OCD, I have a strong desire to read every single message posted in groups, and while I know this is non-productive, I still do it! As you can imagine, there is a lot of time wasted reading messages, watching videos or laughing at memes, that leaves me with screen fatigue. In an effort to self-regulate, every few months I purge the groups I am in. Basically, I leave the group unceremoniously! This has sometimes got me in trouble with friends or family, but I usually don’t give a damn!
There is one group I never feel inclined to leave due to the value of the content shared, despite the fact that most of the people in the group are strangers to me. I am not an active contributor of this group but I do find I usually learn something, or get an insight or information I can use in my day to day work. This is the Women in Digital (Kenya) group, with 205 members (and growing). Entry into the group is strict! The criteria; you must be a woman (though the admin is a man, and we will address this another time!) and you must be working in the marketing or communication field, with a focus on digital media, you can be employed or entrepreneurial. The conversations vary from posting of jobs in the industry, how to navigate the social media platforms, spotlight on women in the industry and sometimes, we just have a laugh/debate over something very unrelated, but that’s us, women! A quick sample of the women in the group revealed that 40% have 8-10 years working experience, and 48% have a Bachelor’s degree and another 34% have a Master’s degree. So we are an experienced and educated lot!
Recently, the admin of the group, Martin Muli, curator of the annual Top 25 Men and Women in Digital (Kenya), of which I am a proud awardee, approached me and asked if I could host a coaching session.
My first instinct was to decline Martin’s request. Remember, I don’t like WhatsApp, and I am a passive member of most groups! But I did what I have been doing lately since this pandemic struck, I said YES, and knew I would figure it out.
This was the brief Martin shared: How can the Women in Digital (the group) prepare for and pursue positions with global scope or impact? A day before the session, Martin reached out to me to check in and alas, I had procrastinated and was not ready! I asked him to give me one more week so I can make good on my commitment to have this session and make it worthwhile for everyone!
It finally happened, and on August 6, I had my inaugural group coaching session on WhatsApp session for the Women in Digital group and all I can say is, why didn’t we have this conversation earlier? I structured the one-hour session as follows:
- I shared my career background and profile, to provide credibility and context on my experiences and what had shaped me.
- I prepared a short assignment and asked the team to share their views via a survey (to keep it anonymous).
- We discussed the feedback from the survey.
- I shared some words of wisdom from a “guest”, none other than my friend, the amazing Sanda Ojiambo, who was recently appointed the head of the UN Global Compact.
- I concluded with my own nuggets or lessons learned to provide a take away and inspiration.
- I then opened up the forum for all to share their point of views and reactions.
The feedback was ridiculously amazing! Here are some reactions:
What I got out of this process:
- If by sharing your experience it impacts even one person, you have done your job! That feeling of knowing you impacted that one person is indescribable.
- The accolades I received made me feel valued and appreciated. Often we are so caught up in the rat race that we forget what a good job we are doing, or what amazing talent we possess!
- I got validation that I should venture into career/life coaching. This is something that I have been thinking about, particularly as I have been mentoring a few people in the last one year and have found that I enjoy doing this. I will roll out a formal program soon! If you would like to explore this with me, please share your details HERE.
Read the Lessons I shared HERE