Virtual coaching; our six tips for success
Whether it’s face-to-face or virtual, effective coaching requires that you, as a coach, suspend judgment of your coachee in order to help them achieve their goals. It is about ‘unconditional positive regard’, a concept developed by American psychologist Carl Rogers. First applied to therapy, unconditional positive regard is equally relevant for coaching. So, what does it really mean and why is so relevant now?
It means the complete acceptance of your coachee, no matter what they say or do during your coaching session. While you cannot stop judgement it is possible to ‘press pause’ on our instinct to judge, by doing so we listen much better and remove barriers to communication with your coachee. With such a wide spectrum of responses to the pandemic, listening to how your people feel and helping them develop personal strategies is crucial.
In part 3 of our blog series, Employee Engagement in Isolation, we share six tips for using a video platform to provide effective virtual coaching.
How to make virtual coaching work for you
For over 10 years here at Prosell, we have used video conferencing to coach clients across the globe. By starting from a place of understanding that individuals have different perspectives, different reasons for reacting in any given way, and different personal challenges, we have facilitated clients figuring out what works best for them and how to leverage this to achieve their goals.
In the current climate, this is even more important as individuals balance different demands on their time and energies in light of the lockdown. Using video for virtual coaching can help you reach and support your team members at a time when they likely need it most.
We have already talked about how to use video to hone your team’s skills, so now we’ll dive into the 6 essential tips to make your virtual coaching work:
1. Make time and stay focused
Face-to-face coaching in a meeting room instantly removes distractions as the space demands attention and real-world interactions bring a level of etiquette that is easy to ignore virtually. Recreating this atmosphere online takes a more concerted effort.
Make sure you remove any distractions before you start your virtual coaching session. Find a quiet room and close down all other browser windows as well as your email.
Also, factor in that your coaching session may overrun. You don’t want to spend time clock-watching when your coachee suddenly finds momentum in their dialogue; you will want to have time for that productive interaction to play out. So, leave a buffer of time between your coaching session and your next commitment.
2. Use a coaching model
At Prosell, we have had great success with the tried and tested GROW model, which was developed in the UK in the 1980s. It structures your conversations to accommodate both the practical and behavioral aspects of coaching. The way you communicate with your coachee will affect their responses and the GROW model uses this to empower the coaching process. Here’s how it works:
Begin by discussing what your coachee wants to achieve. This goal needs to be clearly defined so it will be easy to identify once it is achieved. Starting with goals will help motivate your coachee and focus their mind on the value and benefits of their coaching session.
Now it is time to look at the current situation your coachee finds themselves in. What challenges are they facing? What hurdles do they have to overcome to achieve their goal?
Help your coachee explore the different options they have to overcome the obstacles standing in the way of them achieving their goal.
Finally, your coachee’s options need to be turned into tangible, clearly defined action points, a step-by-step pathway to reaching their goal.
3. Frame your questions carefully
Coaching is about helping your coachee develop solutions themselves rather than providing solutions for them. This means posing a lot of questions. How, what, and when are safe starting points however be wary of ‘why’. Questions such as ‘why would you do that?’ can easily sound judgmental. Try alternatives such as ‘Talk me through how you developed that idea / drew that conclusion’.
4. Avoid trying to solve emotional needs
While it helps to know where your coachee is emotionally, as this can alter your approach and phrasing, your coaching session is not about resolving emotional issues. Instead, listen and focus on how you can guide them towards tangible, specific, pragmatic actions.
5. Ensure actions come from your coachee
It bears repeating that coaching isn’t about solving your coachee’s problems for them, it’s about supporting and empowering them to do this themselves. To that end, make sure the agreed actions from your coaching session are ultimately developed and detailed by your coachee. It needs to be their idea, not yours.
By taking ownership of the solution, your coachee will be more inclined to take responsibility for the outcomes of enacting this solution. This will help them learn from the experience. They may not get it exactly right first time around but coaching is a cyclical process that your coachee should learn and develop from.
6. Log and share actions
With your coachee’s action agreed on, it is important to log these actions in a plan that is shared between you, your coachee, and any other people invested in their training, such as a line manager. Everyone can then refer back to these actions and track progress. Our mobile learning and coaching platform, On.Board, makes this easy by providing customizable online forms that can be shared between a coachee and their coaching network.
Follow these six essential tips for virtual coaching and we are certain your coaches will handle whatever challenges they face regarding the current situation knowing that you are supporting them.