Wednesday, March 25, 2020

7 Considerations as you Shift your Coaching to Virtual

This week’s guest blogger, Jennifer Britton stepped forward with some help on those who already are coaching virtually and for those who have been thrust into this due to the COVID-19 situation.

Here’s what she had to say…

With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world, all coaches are likely to have seen their business impacted in recent weeks. From communities who have been designated “stay in place”, to locations where social distancing involves a separation of one to two metres, it’s likely that both seasoned and newer coaches will have already shifted your coaching work to virtual…quickly.

As virtual conversations become the new normal (for a while at least), here are seven things to keep in mind to “keep the conversation” going:Coaching Virtually

#1 – Trust and Connection are critical

Trust and connection are foundational to any coaching conversation.  With the disruption in so many domains of our lives – personal, economic, health, and relationships – levels of trust for our clients may not be where they were last time we met. 

What is important to explore with clients around trust? There may be multiple levels of this conversation – self-trust, to trust of process, and trust at other levels. 

#2 – Meet people where they are at

As coaches, one of our primary principles has always been to let clients take the lead in shaping the focus of the call. At this time, meeting people “where they are at” has likely never been as important. 

Meeting people where they are at is not only focusing on client topics in the moment, and also meeting them in a way that works for them. For some clients, this may mean meeting them on zoom and seeing them with a new background, and for others, it may mean relying on the phone. 

#3 – Get your technology sorted 

Most coaches have questions about how they can leverage their technology differently at this time. While most platforms have great tutorials, who can support you in getting your technology sorted and help you walk through your set up? It is likely that most of this can be done remotely, as well. Take stock of the technology you have that works, as well as the things that you may want to add or change. Build-in time to get things organized. 

# 4 – Connect in with your community

Remote work can feel isolating, even when we are in conversation all day with clients. What are the virtual communities you want to tap into? Who can you turn to for a laugh, a cry, or a share?

While coaches are trained to remain neutral, what are the “release valves” you have in place to help you decompress and renew from a day, or a week, of coaching?

#5 – Create routines and boundaries 

For those of us who have run virtual businesses for some time, the blurring of work and life can be part of the terrain unless we are proactive in creating routines and boundaries. 

What boundaries are important to institute, especially if you are part of a household where you also are a parent to children or a caretaker to older adults? 

Consider boundaries to support you with the time to focus on your business, the renewal you need, as well as the privacy and focus for your conversations. 

#6 – Consider what other skill sets you might want to add and/or who can help you

The shift to “all things remote” may require some new skill sets in the areas of virtual facilitation, knowing how the technology works and making sure that conversations remain conversations? While many coaches may think that they need to do this all themselves, who can support you in this process? You might consider a co-facilitator/co-coach, or someone who can address technical challenges. Consider how to re-establish your coaching agreements so they can be part of the coaching conversation.

#7 – Revisit your business mix 

Finally, from a business perspective, this shift may have created a lot of uncertainty for you as well as your clients. What are you doing to think strategically about different options and revenue streams, as well as your different types of program offerings? What can your business mix look like going forward? 

The shift to the remote space may mean a whole new market opening for you. What’s possible for you in the digital space?

For decades a key value we have brought to the world as coaches have been to create a pause to listen and support our clients in making the shift from where they are, to where they want to go. It is a moment in time where people do want to be heard, be with what is, and have the space to think through, and dream about, where they want to go next. What can you do to serve?

Tell us what you’ve learned from this or can add to the conversation commenting to this blog or by connecting with your colleagues on our Facebook page

Jennifer Britton is a seasoned virtual business owner, remote leader, and coach. She is the author of Effective Virtual Conversations: Engaging Digital Dialogue for Better Learning, Relationships, and Results (2017). Over the last fifteen years since founding Potentials Realized, she has supported numerous organizations to virtualize their learning, teams, and leadership, as well lead training in virtual facilitation for coaches and corporate clients via the Virtual Facilitation Essentials program. She’s no stranger to change and disruption, with her former world of work as a leader in the international humanitarian sector supporting disaster management programming. Listen in to the Remote Pathways podcast she co-hosts on your favorite podcast player. Click here to reach Jennifer by email.