Remote coaching is an incredibly effective way of supporting staff in hard to reach locations. Our team has been coaching remotely for many years; as with face to face coaching, a focus on presence, building the relationship, and developing rapport is just as important when remote coaching, if not more so.
Here are some tips to help you coach someone remotely:
Before a remote coaching session
- Send a reminder to your coachee a couple of days before. This can be an email or instant messaging on Skype where you remind them of the appointment. This can sometimes prompt an Out Of Office email response which gives warning that the coachee might not turn up. However, be aware that some coachees have deliberately planned the coaching for when they are on leave and so do appear for coaching.
- Your preparations – switch off mobile and email; let your team know that you cannot be disturbed for the next hour.
During the remote coaching session
- Start a session in exactly the same way as a face-to-face session. Give time to ‘check-in’ with each other and really connect. Listen hard for the clues that might tell you how the person is feeling. Check the energy levels and the readiness for learning.
- Early on in the call check that the coachee is in a quiet place for the call, with no distractions. The session often begins with the coachee walking to such a place – to sit under a tree in the courtyard, away from colleagues.
- When using Skype or an alternative you can keep the video on so that your coachee can see you at the start of a session. After an initial wave or greeting turn it off to speed up the connection.
- During the call, if it is difficult for the coachee to hear you, but the other way around is working OK, follow up what you say by typing the question asked into the Instant Messaging chat box. This is helpful sometimes too, to reinforce the question being asked.
- Without the video on, you can shut your eyes and listen fully to the words, the images and the energy behind the words of the coachee.
- Sometimes you hear a door opening and shutting in the room where the coachee is. It is often that the coachee is being asked for their signature. At such times explore with the coachee how capable they are at multi – tasking and how this mirrors their usual working practice. At a later session where deep thought is needed you can suggest they seek out a room away from their team.
- Keep questions succinct, especially when shouting through monsoon rain storms.
- The advantage of remote coaching is that you are often more aware of time. Use this to give coachee options. ‘We have 20 minutes left. How would you like to spend that time? We could look at X or Y? Which is most important to start with?’
Ending the session
- Finish a session in exactly the same way as a face to face session. This includes a summary of what was covered and important learning (the coachee can do this once they are used to coaching); clarification of any action points; feedback on the coaching process – what worked well etc: feedback to each other – what did I (the coach) do that was most useful to you? What else do you need from me as coach? Agree date and time for the next session
- Agree if learning notes will be exchanged and roles to do so.
- Switch back on video to wave goodbye (if you want to) or send Instant Message to reinforce goodbye and well wishes until you speak again.
After the session
- If you committed to sending learning notes to the coachee, then make sure you send these within a few days. along with the date and time of the next session.
Adapted with permission from blog on Sara Swords Coaching.