The new world of remote working means that we are all getting used to communicating in different ways. For many people, that’s meant getting used to new technology and having to try new approaches, well outside of their comfort zone.
As part of our Coaching Certificate programme, we’ve been helping new coaches to coach online for the first time. I have also been speaking to more experienced coaches and managers who are worried about how they might need to adapt their coaching approach to work online and who are concerned that they won’t have the same connection with a client remotely.
I’ve been coaching remotely, using the plain old telephone and a number of different types of video and online platforms, for a long time now, but it can be daunting if you haven’t done it before. Or, if you are just getting started as a coach, or as a manager using coaching with their team.
So, here are a few tips from my experience to help take the fear out of it.
A lot of this may seem pretty straightforward but it’s amazing how we can forget to think about the simple things, and yet they can have a huge impact. Investing time in a little bit of preparation will pay off in the quality of your conversation and help you to feel more confident.
- Think about where you are going to be located, ensuring it is somewhere quiet, where you won’t be interrupted
- Make sure you are familiar with the technology you are using. Try to have a trial run, or even a few practices if it is new to you, so that you feel more confident and in control
- Make sure the client is comfortable with the platform you will be using as well and is able to choose a time and place where they are comfortable and won’t be interrupted either
2. Manage yourself
As coaches, we know that it is important to manage our own energy levels, in order to ensure that we are fully present and attentive with our client. That’s even more important now, given all the challenges that we are facing in our current situation.
- Think about your energy. Coaching and meeting online can take more focus and can be tiring. Consider when is the best time for both you and your client to meet.
- Allow yourself time beforehand to get in the right mental space for the coaching session, and afterwards, to make notes and reflect on how the session went.
3. Manage the tech
It’s brilliant that we have the tech and platforms to be able to coach remotely. We don’t want any issues with these to become a barrier; what we want instead is that the platform and tech that you are using fades into the background, allowing the focus to be on the coaching conversation itself.
- Make sure you have done your prep and are comfortable yourself with the platform you are using
- Arrive in your virtual room that little bit early, just in case there are any last minute technical hiccups
- Have a back up plan. For example, it is a good idea to have your client’s mobile number so that you are able to ring them in case the wifi drops out or there are any issues with the platform you are using.
- It’s your responsibility to manage the time. If you are using a platform that will cut out, make sure that you are keeping track of the time and allowing time at the end to properly finish the coaching conversation
The coaching relationship is at the heart of coaching. Don’t get so caught up in the technology and forgetting about connecting with your client. You can build a strong trusting relationship with your client remotely, just as well as you can when you are both in the same room.
- Focus on building rapport and trust just as you would if the client was physically in the room with you.
- Take the time to check in with the client before moving into contracting. These are difficult and challenging times. You may need to spend time chatting with them and helping them to get in the right place for coaching.
- In our current situation, it may be that interruptions could happen, for example noise outside, a delivery arriving unexpectedly, a child or a pet coming into the room. Chat through how you will both deal with this, so that if it does happen, neither you or your client will feel anxious about it.
5. Trust the process
We know the power and impact of coaching. We know it works. And guess what, it works when it’s done remotely as well.
- So, relax, and let the conversation flow.
- Be authentic. If you are feeling a bit nervous about coaching online for the first time, share that with the client, but don’t let it take over the session
- Use your coaching skills, listen and be with your client. Trust your skills and your intuition, you can still pick up on so much, especially if you are focused on your client.
Coaching remotely doesn’t have to be the poor second choice against coaching face to face. From my own experience, I know that coaching remotely can be just as powerful for clients.
It might take a little courage to get started. But, as coaches, we know the importance of stepping outside our own comfort zone and developing new skills. And we know how coaching can help people with the challenges they are currently facing.