Like so many aspects of our World, technology has had a big impact on our approach to learning and development. From e-learning to apps, gamification to AI, the digital space is providing alternative solutions to the traditional workshop, flipchart delivery of learning.
At Know You More, we specialise in another powerful learning experience that’s gone digital – ‘Virtual Coaching’. So what is it, what are the benefits when and is there any difference to being in the same room?
What is Virtual Coaching?
In a nutshell, it is an in-person coaching conversation that is conducted over a web-based video conferencing service (also known as video chat). One or more people will enjoy a development experience that is facilitated by a qualified coach.
To understand the benefits more fully, let’s break it down.
Now (in 2018 as we write this) technology is all around and underpins modern business and individual lifestyles. Advances in video technology by the likes of Skype and Zoom allow us to have face to face conversations with anyone, anywhere. It has created a sense of being in a global village. Virtual delivery allows us to translate this connection into learning and development. Providing businesses with access to an expert resource, delivering to individuals and bringing teams together from across the World.
Whilst learning continues to move towards faceless e-learning technology people still crave the ability to work on their development with a person. This is even more important to a generation that has lived their whole lives on the internet. We invest more time than any before us in cultivating human connections. Virtual coaching allows businesses to deliver human learning and development at a fraction of the resources and financial investment as face to face offerings.
Behaviourally, technology has also shaped how we want life to be. We want things to be easy and convenient. Quicker, cheaper but better quality. It should slot into to our lifestyle and on our terms. Mobile technology and data networks mean we can have coaching conversations wherever and whenever we want. Virtual coaching allows the flexibility for your people to self-direct their learning and undertake it when it is the right time for them.
The foundations of a coaching relationship are made up of 2 things – Trust & Rapport. It’s when we have these in abundance that an effective coaching relationship can be created. Having access to a large community of coaches, and eliminating the geography through technology, allows us to pinpoint the right matches for your people. Whether it be background, skill set, learning style, temperament or even a preference for hobbies, virtual allows us to create a coaching experience that will have the biggest impact.
What is a coaching experience?
A Powerful Conversation
The word “coaching” literally means to transport someone from one place to another.
One thing that all forms of coaching have in common is that its focus is moving forward in a certain direction. A skilled coach uses a combination of observation, questioning, listening and feedback to create a conversation rich in insight. You will experience a focus and attention that enable you to develop a greater clarity and appreciation of your own circumstances. Greater self-knowledge and understanding creates new ways to approach challenges and generally achieve goals more easily.
How do you get started?
From our experience, providing real clarity to your people on what coaching is, what they will experience and, most importantly, why it is being made available to them is critical to the process. We call this ‘onboarding’ and invest a lot of time upfront getting this right. From there, a number of coaches profiles are provided and the ‘coachee’ selects a coach for an introduction session. The coach and coachee agree to engage in a coaching relationship and move on to goal setting. It is normal in a business environment for the sponsor (normally a manager) to participate in this session. With all of this agreed the coaching programme starts.
How long does a coaching experience last?
In our experience, we have found that most programmes (1:1, Team and Group) last between 4 and 6 sessions. The duration of each session is normally an hour with some choosing to complete these in the workplace and others in the comfort of their own home. The regularity is dependant on the purpose of the coaching and preference of the coachee. Between fortnightly and monthly is our average.
How will I know it makes a difference?
As coaching conversations are happening and the programme is progressing, there is another process that is also in motion. Measurement and evaluation. At the start of the programme, we will ask for information on the objectives of the programme. Then, at specific points throughout the, we check back in to gauge progress. On completion, we again ask the coachee and those around them to evaluate the impact of the coaching on their development. This creates a 360-degree view and an evaluation report is produced.
What are the areas where coaching can make a difference?
For Know You More and the young teams that we develop, we have designed a framework and diagnostic approach.
You can read more about this here: The Know You Canvas
What is coaching not?
Training vs. Coaching
Structured training is a fixed and prepared approach to learning. Coaching is fluid and flexible. It follows the interest and objectives of the coachee. Together the coach and coachee influence the direction of their sessions. Coaching also places responsibility and ownership on the individual to take action after their session.
Coaching vs. Therapy
Whilst coaching is not therapy, it does provide a viable alternative to people who may have previously considered some form of counselling to resolve a situation. Sometimes, lasting change can be promoted by a simple change in perspectives.
When does virtual coaching go wrong?
As we mentioned above. The most effective coaching experience when trust and rapport exist between the coach and coachee. Like with many relationships, sometimes 2 people do not hit it off. Coaches are aware of this and ready for it. When this happens we try again. Refine what we know and then match coachees with another coach. Having a large coaching community means we always be able to find an appropriate match.
We all know what it is like when the internet goes down in the office. It’s frustrating and can have a serious impact on our ability to get things done. As virtual coaching is delivered over digital platforms we’re dependent on technology working. It is for this reason that we recommend services such as Zoom (which are also encrypted) to conduct conversations and we work with coachees to ensure that they have good internet connection ahead of their session.
Want to know more?
If you’d like to know more about Virtual Coaching or if it’s sparked any questions, please get in touch.