Virtual Coaching vs In-Person – and 5 Genuine Ways to Improve It

Virtual coaching became the norm for hundreds of coaches worldwide from March 2020 as we responded to Covid-19 and the pandemic produced. But how does this change things? What do people want from virtual coaching? Is it preferred?

I’ll begin by giving you my preferences because that’s likely to explain more than practice alone.  

My Coaching Preferences

Leader or Loafer?

I am steadfast in my preferences for in-person coaching. Naturally, this takes a back seat to safety and common sense; so sure – pandemic and international clients are a perfectly valid reason to keep sessions on the screen! Also, I’m a wheelchair user – so many venues aren’t versatile enough; particularly those of a more industrial complex.

I believe the fundamental reason I prefer to coach face-to-face is quality communication. Everyone has experienced the process of changing a contact method with someone and subsequently seeing a changing in the dynamic.

In-Person Coaching

Let’s explore the in-person coaching process and discover the pros involved.

7-38-55% Rule

Psychology professor Albert Mehrabian laid out this concept in his 1971 book Silent Messages (1971 – Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles). The top sheet of this theory lays out the following

  • 7% of communication is spoken
  • 38% of communication is the tone of voice
  • 55% of communication is body language (inc behaviours).

From my experience, this is a golden rule to coach by, too. Much of my coaching and NLP training covered not just what people say, but how they say it. What’s more – what they do when saying it. Humans are expressive – you only need a conversation with a five-year-old to learn this!

As soon as we start stripping back layers of this communication things are less clearly conveyed – consider the last time and email chain or text exchange painted a picture very different from reality.

Environment

I like to meet clients outside of their comfort zones – this often means not their office or homes. Somewhere we’re not disturbed and have privacy. Ironically; this is to increase comfort! When a coaching session is going well you get in the groove and the outside world stops for a while.

It’s a state of mindfulness that involves being truly present. This state is valuable in coaching – otherwise, deeper changes and understanding are hard to come by. 

When at home or in your office, distractions are everywhere! I don’t just mean phone calls, people dropping by with questions, emails popping-up. You become surrounded by emails reminding you of tasks, ideas, and pressures. 

Virtual Coaching

Virtual Coaching

The next best thing is virtual coaching sessions. That’s the avenue 2020 lead us down – in fact, a few of my newer clients have yet to experience in-person coaching with me as a result. I prefer Zoom over other formats – which should be hosted via desktops where possible, or at least something with a large screen you don’t need to touch.

Distractions

I think first and foremost has to be distractions. Emails, phone calls, colleagues, messages, not to mention the way we’re now so used to instant information, that we’ll automatically Google something when sat at a computer with a query in mind. This focus varies from client to client, some client barely change.

However, I was shocked by the amount that certain clients zoned out. One would get a message (from a phone that would always be on silent and out of sight in our usual sessions) and stop talking/listening to reply.  

I recognise that there’s a certain level of professional respect and courtesy that goes beyond the communication method – some people wouldn’t act this way when engaging in a session via smoke signals! But the medium is a large part of the cause.

Physical Barriers

Video Coaching

For each client, I have a separate A5 ring binder – of which my clients have their version. I compile these with our notes, appointments, forms, tasks and so on. If a client requests their next session covers a specific subject I have a tool for, I can print out worksheets that I hand to them on entry, and we’re off. Not useful in virtual coaching!

We have to find or build an online version, perhaps have an interactive PDF version, or they have to print the form to the A5 dimensions and have an exact 6-hole punch to hand and do all this before the appointment. Even when I have such a quiz ready-made on my website, just moving the focus from our conversation to a web browser is a setback.

Benefits

No story is just one-sided, so let’s look at the flip-side to virtual coaching video sessions.

Convenience

Scheduling meetings without travel and similar interaction is brilliant. For one of my clients, we both have to drive 45 minutes to meet halfway in North London. What’s more, the best time for his sessions is 8.30 am. Combine the time and travel with traffic, return journeys and the session, we each have to leave before 7 am and won’t be back at the office until 11. Our Zoom sessions start at 8.30 and finish at 10 – simple.

Cost

Depending on your coaching package and circumstance, we often need a private space to work in. Most of the time, this requires hiring a meeting room or consulting-room somewhere. The Zoom call is free.

Flexibility

Specifically, in terms of scheduling, online sessions can be more flexible. It becomes much easier to schedule when you eliminate everything else. Even when working in the same building, you’d rarely schedule one meeting within 5 minutes of another. We don’t have that barrier online.

Phone Calls

Phone call sessions are very rare. I’d generally only use calls in two situations – the first is a chemistry call, this happens the first time I speak with a client to discover if it’s worth us working together and how we click. The second is follow-ups; depending on the coaching programme you choose, and level of interaction you prefer, there’s sometimes a follow-up between sessions. The informality of both means this can happen via call. Of course, virtual coaching via zoom is preferred to calls when available.

When it’s necessary

There are circumstances where the sessions simply cannot happen in person. Often this is location-based – not every client is close to me, some clients don’t have the time to travel or some locations aren’t ideal for accessibility issues.  

In these situations, we set up firm rules.

Online Practises for Virtual Coaching

When we agree online session are essential, we set out how this will happen in our contracting session. We agree:

  • phones/devices should be off and out of sight, 
  • how to handle coaching journal updates
  • where coaching will occur
  • how interruptions will be addressed
  • what prep/wrap up will be involved
  • when to review this.

And even with all this, I still strongly recommend that we get together every few months for an in-person session. Virtual coaching rarely covers every need.

Leadership Blueprints

When you build a house, you know what to do and how because of the blueprint. It’s an odd thing to say because it’s obvious – you just wouldn’t run in blind. This guide is what tells you how to build your house. What’s more, it shows you the house finished. 

leadership

But wait, you cry, I’m here because I care about leadership! I’m no architect… or are you?

Recently, a zoom call of leaders from various industries contributed to the characteristics and values they considered to be essential for an ideal leader. Here’s what they came up with:

  • A good listener
  • enthusiasm
  • passion
  • shows appreciation
  • a visionary
  • role model
  • trusting
  • integrity
  • organized
  • knowledgeable
  • credibility
  • persuasive
  • charisma
  • team building
  • clarity of purpose
  • problem solver
  • an attitude of service
  • leads by example
  • patience
  • willing to act without complete knowledge
  • understands followers
  • consistent
  • empowers other people
  • and adapts to change.

It’s worth noting that this zoom call hasn’t reinvented the wheel – this list features pretty standard terms. It’s a similar list to those found in core values sessions we do in leadership coaching and brand coaching.

  1. Pay attention to the list. Each represents core values more than administrative qualities. It’s a crucial element as users often try to divorce the “touchy-feely” or “woo-woo” aspects of leadership.
  2. In turn, pay attention to what’s absent from the list – especially those considered part of “old school” leadership. Characteristics thought to be strengths in times past, are not seen the same way by the staff members who would use terms like stern, mean, serious, short-tempered, vindictive, tough, angry, harsh, punitive, controlling, violent, or ruthless. None of these is present in the list. These features are merely symptoms of leaders who lack the strength or capabilities to meet the human level of leadership.  
  3. Now pay attention to your relationship with the list. Can you go through and place a rating by those you feel you meet? Better yet – click here to take a quick skills assessment based on this list. Then, reconsider how those you lead would rate you. Does it measure up? (a strong leader frequently seeks feedback and invites opinions from his team, have them complete this assessment and see how you measure up). Finally, how would other leaders rate these abilities of yours? The human elements of leadership are those most valued as with those skills you can increase the potential and performance in your domain.

Respect, genuine compassion, and courtesy; these are often the core values of leadership. Followers need to feel valued, cared for, and respected – not out of some soft hand-holding coddled intergenerational babying, but simple human decency. If you want them to perform for you – respect them as individuals with a skillset and work ethic which benefits you as a leader. When they’re going through a tough time or experiencing changes in life, don’t shut the door on them because it’s not work-related; recognise that as individuals, you need to validate the whole human experience. Finally, the fact that courtesy has to go on any list discussing leadership is disappointing – but in our careers, who hasn’t come across someone who thinks that “tough love” and “get on or get gone” are effective leadership styles? 

Human assets are humans first.

Leader or Loafer – 4 Important Differences.

Do you consider yourself a leader in your industry or speciality?

I’ve known many who call themselves leaders. I’ve seen that most of these “leaders” are no more than loafers. The loafers are those who like to give direction, tell you what to do, but take no action to advance their business or improve themselves.

Sound like anyone you know? Perhaps there’s something in your leadership that reflects this? Or those higher-ups you’re working for who have their loaf tendencies.

Leader or Loafer

If you’re wondering where the difference lies, here are some examples:

Leader:  Encourages his/her team and bestows praise easily
Loafer:  Points out every issue and begrudges pats on the back

Leader:  Expects more of himself than others in his team
Loafer:  Has high expectations for those who work for him but doesn’t hold that standard himself 

Leader: Leads by example and is a role model for her team
Loafer: Goes with the flow, avoiding notice from others

Leader: Has a succinct view of herself within the business and leads new teammates through the growth process (onboarding, Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing)
Loafer: Looks to add people to her team quickly, expecting the other team members to pick up the integration processes without her (AKA a “Sign & Drop”)

Do you see any of these tendencies within you or your teammates? Be honest here – a key to leadership is highlighting inward issues and eliminating these going forward.

Leader or Loafer?

Remember – a leader must be there for their followers – growth and development become watchwords for their role. Above all, to lose integrity or fail to stand when integrity falls around them, is the mark of a loafer, not a leader. You are an example to those who follow.

Let me ask you one last time… Are you a leader or a loafer?


Do You Suffer from Premature Articulation?

One of the fundamentals of leadership involves communication – it’s one of the core principles of working with people, no matter how underrated it may be. However, how often is “communication” reduced to nothing but spoken words?

Being Present

Communication Issues in Leadership

Active listening – a core tool of any coach, and increasingly recognised as valuable in leadership.  It’s one of the core areas of interest for organisations like the ILM.

How many times have you, a colleague or someone you know said something like:

“It’s so frustrating! I participate in meetings, suggest ideas – yet it’s others who get the credit! How am I meant to get anywhere if I am so constantly overlooked?”

Ben’s Experience

That was the situation when I began working with Ben (as always, names a changed to protect the superheroes among us). He was keen for promotion – part of that was getting his potential recognised and delivering. He would speak out at any meeting, raise his ideas, fight to be first and heard.

Of course, several things happened as a result of this – consequences quite against his intention:

Participants lost their train of thought – not a great impression on your boss or other stakeholders present. It isn’t enjoyable for the best of us – and not the best impact.

Ben was keeping his mind on what he was going to say. Sounds natural, right? But by doing this, he was failing to internalise what was being told by those around him. Not only is this disrespectful towards colleagues, but mean that his ideas, contributions, and participation were shallow – based on surface information.

Leaps were made to articulation before they made it through formulation. When others, who were fully present and active-listening, they could combine a fuller understanding with logic and Ben’s ideas to articulate them more thoroughly.

The Issue

The issue here is Premature Articulation! Not a rare problem – but one of consequence. It’s a simple matter to spot but harder to fix. There’s an element of mindfulness required (addressed in all our leadership coaching) to ensure you’re aware of what’s happening and when. Then practice, practice, practice – turn the idea into behaviour and the behaviour into a habit. 

Ben’s Solution

Success in Leadership from Communication

With Ben, we talked through how he could go about managing the problem. I asked if he felt confident to make a conscious decision to act differently in the next week’s meetings, even if it felt like going against his career goals.

We talked through ways he could remain quiet, to listen carefully and only contribute when his opinion was expressly requested.  

Beyond this, we looked at what he should do to help focus his attention in positive ways when he felt inclined towards speaking out. Not just to keep his mouth shut, but to help him develop his leadership abilities.

Helpful Tips

The first solution tied to active listening was observation! With each stakeholder present, Ben would note their posture and body language, tone of voice, facial expression, movements and so on, to combine that with the words they said. These actions lead to a greater understanding of almost any situation. 

Now, we’re not trying to turn him into The Mentalist here; there’s no twitch of the 3rd hair from the top of his left eyebrow which proves his mother’s gardener killed the postman! These observation techniques were to help him stay more present, but in a manner which developed him as a leader. (Other methods I’ve seen in the past include counting a certain number of colours in the room, adding up everything circular, or similar. Such ideas can help younger people stay more present but don’t contribute to leadership success.)

Together, a couple of other strategies were put in place, to help build on the observation, listening, ordering thoughts, and recording ideas. 

We agreed that he could then only offer ideas after enough thought, consideration, logic, observation and structure were present. Often, this meant following up after a meeting – not an ideal business practise, granted, but elegant as a short-term development tool.

The Result of Ben’s Work

Communication with Leaders

The result was outstanding. Ben started to feel more control in his work and more positive about his value and position in the company. He felt his work was being recognised and well appreciated.

Overall, Ben found meetings had become less stressful and less frantic. There was no running about or rush to contribute. No more performance anxiety, no more premature articulation – it took some time and practise, but valuable!

How much do you contribute vs listen?

Coaching Models for the Workplace – 3 Great Essential Components

Coaching models come in many shapes and sizes – many of which originate the the early development on coaching, dating from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s. Whilst most of today’s coaching methods have roots their, it was the swell of the 1990’s coaching industry that really gave rise the models and methods in common use today. A coaching model should be versatile, flexible, and adaptable – so that it may be implemented to the individual needs of any coaching client.

Goals of coaching Models

A modern coaching model should:

Coaching Models
  • Have an overarching description – detailed to give a firm understanding of process.
  • Lead towards a definitive outcome. It may not always be attained but should be set in advance.
  • Give a breakdown of the required steps.
  • Utilise a valid methodology to facilitate sustainable change or learning

Initial coaching models were based on short term benefits – ones that are often used in introductory coaching education even today. Methods like the GROW model – designed to create a short form reveals and targets. Whilst they have their place in coaching, they lack the ability to affect long term growth and changes in behaviour. Beyond that, it became almost impossible to plan long term benefits, bogged down in short term sessions.

These initial coaching models tend to lead the coachee into old patterns shortly after the session ends. It’s an expensive, emotionally and financially draining experience for a short term boost. This has challenged professional coaches to develop long term methods of helping their clients. Today’s models overarch the individual sessions through to long term journey of coachees – developing behavioural changes, understanding, and growth.

Coaching Model Focus

In this age of fast change, psychological understanding, brand expectation and more, the needs of coach and client have involved. Today – many models involve the coachee’s:

  • beliefs,
  • development,
  • attitudes,
  • values,
  • motivation,
  • social learning and
  • emotions

along with organisational and personal dynamics.

Components of a Coaching Model

Often, the mechanisms are behavioural in natural – bough forth from the learning and development industry. Many of the attributes in coaching models and plans include:

  • highlighting and then concentrating on a specific behaviour
  • Examining a behaviour in relation to its effects and the outcomes
  • Applying a sustainably valid method of data collection, analysis and assessment
  • Creation a plan for sustained development
  • Exercising behavioural change techniques that are industry recognised
  • Measuring, managing and maintaining behavioural changes

Any workplace coaching need be exercised with a long-term view. A coach is not there to consult – in most cases, rather they create the environment and stimulate the situation for participants to discover solutions.

A coach is – among other things – a sounding board. The dialogue between coach and coachee are an opportunity unfiltered safe thoughts to be explored safely. It’s an area dedicated to a professional’s development and growth – an asset soon to be applied to their business growth, development, and prosperity.

Coaching Session

4 Powerful Reasons to Find a Business Coach Today

In the great scheme of things, business coaching is baby! Many businesses, particularly those that think of people first, are realising a business coach is an essential asset your business can utilise.

Let’s explore reasons 1, 2, 3, and 4 as to why you should want a business coach.

1 Business coaching can boost your productivity whilst reducing your stress

productivity

If you’re a typical part of a business in modernity, you work too many hours and compromise your personal time with work worries. Maybe you’re part of the clan which feel compelled to stay at the grindstone, feeling guilt or fear at stepping away!

It doesn’t matter what you call coaching – executive coaching, small business coaching, business coaching and there are others – crux is that any one of these will help your firm to evolve in its efficiency. Getting the same work done in less time, bringing in more returns. A business coach can help your old business model evolve into a new, powerful, profitable business.

2 Business Coaching Can Lead to Increased Revenue

business coach

Would you like more money? Is it time to go and make some? If your profits aren’t in that golden range you dream of, then maybe it’s time to do something about that? This is a key role for business coaches, especially with solopreneur and microbusiness wonders. Together, you can breathe new life and direction into the business – using your passion and knowledge to explore how things can be improved and where efficiencies are available. Very few coaches arrive with magic wands – and we’re not talking miracles here. Simply utilising a specialist (you!) through exploring your current situations.

3 Business Coaches Play a Role in Team-Development

team meeting

Is leadership important to you? Are you a master of assets exchanging time and expertise purely for a payslip, or a leader of people who seek more fulfilment in their jobs than a bank balance? You have already built the team to help your business thrive – and that’s a great accomplishment. But a business coach can help you go further in developing yourself as a leader and tackling new issues that arise with a staff in a vibrant workplace.

There’s another important consideration here – and that’s that most people in management or leadership positions didn’t get there for being good leaders! After all, it’s the chicken and the egg all over again. They are often there because they have other market-favoured skill which makes them great at their job. Leading may only be a side element to that, but it doesn’t preclude you from empowering those you work with.

4 Business Coaches Help with The Emotional Connect

business emotional connect

It’s very easy for work to feel like just that – work! Even the smallest amount of stress can be a significant drain on the passion, motivation, inspiration and vision of the business. Coaching gives you a space to process that stress – Pac-Man style (taking little bites out of it until that obstacle in front of you is empty space! We can’t help with the ghosts though). Working with a coach can let you explore ideas without fear of failure, consider alternatives without facing defeat, envision a future without being constantly grounded by reality. All those ingredients which ultimately mix your soul back into the business.

There’s no question that a business coach is an investment. It’s an investment in yourself, in the business, in future. We can dress it up and give it an inspirational soundtrack as you walk into the horizon brimming with success – but at the end of the day, it involves putting your hand into your pocket. Finance is often an obstacle, especially in smaller businesses – and coaching is often one of those things you promise to do when the financial situation changes.

But tell me this – if you don’t change anything, what do you expect to change?

coach-trainer-mentor-coaching-teaching-improving-consultant-achieving-aspiration-blocks-business_t20_dxePW9

So, What is business coaching you ask?

What is business coaching…? there’s that burning question – and what can it actually do for you?

To me, coaching is a space through which executives, managers and staff can achieve their highest potential. Coaching and mentoring are alike in many ways – but the big difference is that a mentor needs a skillset or knowledge base in the area you’re both working, a coach needs no prerequisites other than coaching skills/qualifications. Let’s look at some of the things your business coach will do for you, your staff and your business.

business-coaching
  • Coaches learn to apply techniques and tools in creative ways. This offers skills such as facilitation, one-on-one training, counselling, or networking.
  • The act of coaching encourages coaches into a commitment to action and development. The goal? Lasting growth and effective change.
  • Encouraging clients to constantly advance competencies and to expand developmental association whenever necessary to attain their goals.
  • Coaching helps clients build their individual competencies. Conversely ensuring they don’t build unhealthy dependencies on the coaching relationship.
  • Look to the outcomes! Not only do we put a process of coaching in place to help week to week, but work to more “Ultimate” goals – both personal and work-related.
  • Invite exploration of needs, desires, motivations, skills and the thought processes. These assist the client in making real and lasting changes.
  • Coaches become ambassadors throughout coaching sessions! A coach is in the client’s corner – there’s no space for judgement (providing you’re not drowning puppies!). There’s no embarrassment, no weakness or unnecessary barriers.
  • That said… coaches call out the bs. coaches support their coachees but that doesn’t make a “yes-man”, often the opposite. For many executive coaching clients, the coach is one of few people who can give push back to the coachee without
  • Maintaining an ever-evolving relationship between client and coach. Different clients require different support, sessions, and durations. After each session, I reflect on the way it’s gone and going – part of that is the longterm needs.
  • Client observation; listen and ask the questions needed to understand the landscape.
  • Expand with questioning techniques to uncover the client’s thought processes which in turn identify solutions and actions.
  • Offer substantive feedback on the best way to convey requests and suggestions to others?
  • Provide skills to build trust and acceptance.
  • Develop confidence, combating inhibiting beliefs and imposter syndrome.
  • Examine behaviours which get in the way of achieving goals. Then discover ways to avoid them in future.

Business coaching is a widely recognised valuable tool to develop, grow, and succeed. There are no limitations on who can be coached provided they’re willing and open to trying.

Based in Hemel Hempstead

© 2020 - Ky Teasdale. All Rights Reserved.