Virtual Coaching Works
I have always believed that the best coaching was done face to face. As an extrovert, this is partly a personal preference. I also found it hard to believe that a relationship could develop deep trust without the personal contact.
So, I was mildly apprehensive when selected as a coach to support a leadership development programme, via virtual coaching, for a US client. However, we went out to meet our matched clients before the coaching began and this reassured me. It’s worked very well. On the last programme I could not travel to meet my clients and I was very concerned. Guess what – these have been every bit as successful as the previous clients. Both of them have made significant change and we have an excellent relationship.
Why Virtual Coaching is successful
What has this told me? That relationships are created in the space between two people whether the space is 1,000 miles or 6 feet. Virtual coaching is successful when the following are in place;
- Effort, because deep listening, reflecting and silence need even more attention than usual
- Curiosity – a strong desire to understand what’s behind the words and the pauses
- Courage because you have to go with your instincts more frequently with fewer clues
- Matching your client’s communication style e.g. auditory, visual etc.
- Taking time to build or rebuild rapport at the start of every call
Face to face coaching remains my personal preference but I am now a strong advocate of virtual coaching, whether it’s telephone coaching or via video conference. I also understand that, for some people, it creates an easier path to transformational change.
Be aware of the more superficial initiatives such as Free Fruit Fridays or gym memberships and think more about how to build a healthier working environment where employee wellbeing is at the heart of the culture. Senior leadership buy-in and role modelling, line managers who encourage employees to take care of themselves and initiatives that are accessible, flexible and require some effort on the part of the employee (so they have an investment) will go a long way to raising the importance of health & wellbeing.
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