Amie, Founder of Grow Development Solutions recently wrote an article for the Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire CIPD Branch Newsletter on “Coaching in the Virtual World”.

Below is a slightly adapted version of the article, which provides some useful hints and tips for coaching in a world when we are working remotely and virtually.

Now, more than ever, people need support to help them navigate their way through the challenges they are facing and that’s why our role as coaches is critical. We need to ensure that those who need our coaching services can still gain access to effective coaching conversations, in this ‘virtual world’.

For those of who are transitioning to this new way of working, here are a few tips about holding a successful ‘virtual’ coaching session:

  • Agree on the preferred method and platform that works for you both – some of us prefer to visually ‘see’ the other person, so if this is the case, make use of a platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, or you can even use FaceTime or WhatsApp video calls. If you are happy not to visually see the other person, then telephone coaching can work well! You might even find that when using telephone coaching your listening skills are heightened, allowing you to effectively engage in a powerful coaching conversation with your coachee. It is also worth considering that some coachees might prefer to do telephone coaching.
  • Prepare – you will need to consider testing any platforms that you will be using, to ensure you minimise any issues during the coaching sessions. You will need to prepare your environment, making it as free from distractions as possible and this can even mean clearing your ‘screen’ so you do not get distracted by other things during the session, particularly the ‘email pop-ups’! Make sure as well that you have agreed between yourself and your coachee how the session will run and any tools, models, or resources to be used have been sent in advance of the session. Also, creating a sense of still being ‘face to face’ is important, so having a drink, just as you would if you were meeting face to face might be a good idea!
  • Plan for challenges – working virtually can present many challenges, such as loss of broadband connection or distractions from our home environment, particularly at the moment with most of us working at home with other family members around! Plan in advance to have a ‘back-up’ should the online methods be interrupted and consider how you will re-focus and bring yourself back to be ‘present’ in the session if you have been distracted.
  • Connecting with each other and being ‘present’– holding the session from your own home might mean you feel more ‘relaxed’ and so might your coachee, so you will need to consider in advance how you and your coachee can remain focused and ‘present’ during the session. Making sure we ‘connect’ before we start the session is important, so for example, talking openly first as an ‘opener’ to the session about what’s going on for you right now and how you’re finding the current situation – this can help release any existing thoughts which might get in the way of being fully ‘present’ during the actual coaching session.
  • Check-ins and openness – it is important to be open and share with each other how you’re feeling about this ‘new’ way of conducting your sessions, it can be a daunting experience for both parties if you’re not familiar with it, so be honest and open about this. You should also regularly check-in that the session is working well for both of you and make adaptations throughout if needed. Also, taking a short break at some point might be useful, particularly if you are having a session that is for one hour or more.
  • Closing the session – Make sure the session has a defined closing point in which both parties are clear about next steps and what connections might occur between now and the next session (such as email support etc.). Conclude with a summary of how the session has worked for both of you and consider together what changes, if any, you might make for next time.

Lastly, enjoy your virtual coaching!