You know the value of coaching, especially when compared to simply telling your people how to do something right. However, there’s a significant difference between the experience of coaching someone face-to-face and doing it remotely.
Remote coaching works. There’s no drop in the value that the coachee can receive. But, you need to change the way you coach to keep engagement levels up and ensure they get all the benefits.
You may have spent a great deal of time setting up a coaching culture in your organisation when everyone was together in the office. Don’t let it slip now just because you’re remote-first. Here are five ways to make your remote coaching more effective.
1 – Keep it bitesize
We all know about Zoom fatigue, when a meeting that could be pretty enjoyable in real life feels like it drags on for hours because you’re staring at a screen. Video shortens our attention span.
Coaching requires both sides to be fully engaged throughout the session. So, don’t plan super long sessions (one hour max should be fine). If you coach in groups, keep the groups small to ensure everyone gets their share of the value.
It may mean you have to change your approach or schedule more coaching slots, but trying to coach in long sessions with big groups is a waste of everybody’s time.
2 – Prepare
To make the most of your new shorter coaching sessions, make every minute count.
Before you start, prepare an agenda where you note what you want to achieve and how you will do it. Send it out to all attendees, along with what they need to prepare before the session. Use the time before the coaching session to get your team excited about it.
As with most things in life, the more you prepare, the better you’ll perform on the day. Good preparation will make your coaching more focused, concise and effective.
3 – Be present
As you would in a face-to-face coaching session, do everything you can to minimise distractions. Turn off your notifications so nothing from the outside can take away your focus. Make sure everyone else in the session does the same.
There’s often an awkward moment in video meetings, the split second of silence between someone opening their mouth and the sound coming out of their speakers. Often people will think it’s their cue to jump in because no one else is speaking, then it descends into chaos. Instead, try to keep an orderly meeting with everyone on mute if it’s not their turn to speak.
4 – Coach with remote work in mind
It’s likely your people are struggling with the changes associated with remote work just as much as you are. Sure, they’re enjoying the benefits, but they’re also unsure if they’re getting it right.
Coach for the new remote work environment. Help them get better at asynchronous communication, remote collaboration and everything else that comes with remote work. If you’re coaching them on specific parts of the job - product demos with clients, for example - remember that it’s likely that they’ll be on Zoom rather than face-to-face, which requires different skills.
You could also reach out to your coachees before you prepare the coaching session to see if there are any challenges that they are currently struggling with. Unfortunately, when you’re leading remotely, you don’t always see what’s going on.
5 – Seek feedback and iterate
Coaching is a two-way street; you should always look to find out what your coachees got from the experience. You should also look for ways that you can get better at coaching.
Reach out to the people you coach for a quick chat where they can talk to you about the session in a safe environment. If they suggest ways that you could improve the coaching process, take their comments on board.
As Iwo Szapar, Co-founder of Remote-how told our Leading Remotely Podcast:
‘I would really focus on [creating a] culture where the leader is transparent, radical and very open to feedback from your employees. Yes, there might be some things that you can learn yourself - and then be able to adjust.
‘And that's another truth that we should keep in mind when it comes to introducing new habits, making changes and how we work. There's nothing set in stone. You will always iterate. You'll always suggest. This is a process.’
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