Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Coaching
and How to Make the Most Out of It
The world has turned on its head in the 21st century, and technological advancements know no bound. Digital interactions are on the rise, and so is remote working. As our work expands in the digital space, organizations have found a need for virtual coaching. Virtual coaching can be a powerful game-changer for you and your employees, but it isn’t the easiest thing to implement.
You can transform the learning experience for remote teams by making virtual coaching the norm at your company. The ultimate goal should be to instill a coaching culture, and if you can do that by ensuring the participation of employees across time zones and those working remotely, you’re on the right track to encouraging a virtual coaching mindset.
With the rise of outsourcing and firms offering flexibility to work from home, it becomes more important to make virtual coaching part of your company’s identity.
What is virtual coaching?
We can consider any coaching that is delivered online as virtual coaching. It is suitable for any organization that has employees in multiple locations, whether it is a contact center, cloud banking services, or more. You could also have employees who choose to work from home or those who have been forced to be constrained at home because of multiple factors.
The rise of telepresence and web conferencing has made virtual coaching popular. There are many digital platforms that a person can use to coach others.
Digital coaching isn’t a new concept, but it has gained traction in the past few years because of the global shift to the digital realm. Virtual training is suitable for any company with a cybersecurity analytics platform that wishes to upskill and train its staff. Just as a coach facilitates growth and provides direction, a virtual coach does the same, albeit via a computer screen.
Most common types of coaching
Organizations that have a rich coaching culture leverage at least one of the following different types of coaching:
Leadership development coaching
This is for people’s managers that others look up to as leaders. If you’re responsible for managing others, a leadership coach could teach you skills that can improve how you manage your team. Leadership development teaches you how to create synergy within your team, foster intrinsic motivation, and manage interpersonal conflict among team members.
Leadership skills aren’t just for C-Suite but for anyone aspiring for it. With teams being fluid and job profiles not being limited to a single function, learning leadership skills, like collaboration and decision-making, is important for many employees, especially those making key transitions and aiming for the top of the corporate ladder.
Relationship and communication coaching
No matter how dependent human beings become on technology, the better part of every employee’s day is spent communicating with other human beings. Communication skills are an important ability to have. They help get your point across without antagonizing an opposing party and assist you in navigating difficult conversations.
Being a skilled communicator helps you develop long-lasting relationships with your peers and clients. It makes you an asset to your organization as you triumph at every interaction.
Group or team coaching
Group coaching is great for team-building activities and also to encourage collaborations between different departments. As compared to one-on-one training sessions, group coaching offers an excellent opportunity to learn from others and from their experiences and insights.
You could coach a group of people on negotiation skills, but the activities you do can nurture teamwork and help participants grow by supporting each other. Team coaching is obviously a tough job, but experts can use the fact that there are many people to facilitate conversations and improve collaborations.
Team coaching is an excellent tool for change management. If you need to inform and train employees about new developments in your enterprise cloud services and solutions, it would be best to do it in groups so you can mitigate negativity. Group coaching tends to be dynamic and less scripted because of the number of people involved, making it effective at fostering healthy interactions and high performance.
Performance coaching is usually done individually, and it’s a practice focused on performance feedback. Performance coaching is a standard part of every organization’s performance management system. Employees receive feedback based on their performance over a certain time period, and they discuss with their line managers how to improve.
Most companies require that performance coaching be documented, but it can also be done unofficially at any time of the year.
Career coaching to identify the future roles employees aspire for is also part of performance reviews. It helps identify the gaps in the skill set needed for the next role and how best to attain them.
This is perhaps the more important one on the list because it directly impacts your revenue. Trainers empower salespeople with strategies and tactics to exceed their sales targets and create long-lasting relationships with customers to ensure customer retention.
Sales coaching teaches:
- How to build a sales funnel.
- How to identify hurdles in the funnel.
- How to collaborate with marketing to ensure there are enough leads.
- How to qualify a lead.
- How to nurture a lead and ensure it converts.
- The necessary metrics to track to ensure you meet your sales targets.
Strategy or business coaching
This is also important coaching for key business leaders who need to develop a strategy to ensure organizational growth. This coaching differs from others because it focuses on the business and not on an employee’s professional growth.
Business coaching teaches you to develop goals and then create strategies for achieving them. It educates you to learn, unlearn, and relearn so you can execute a successful game plan. Whether you focus on developing B2B marketing strategies or digital marketing tactics, business coaching is the best way to impart the knowledge needed to create these.
Virtual coaching for remote employees
Organizations who are focused on growing quickly realize that their human resources are their biggest assets, whether they’re remote or not. Key trends in remote work show that the gig economy has no plans of slowing down, and 16% of US companies hire only remote employees. The learning and development of remote employees are thus crucial to the success of any company looking to make it big.
With4.7 million people working remotely at least half the time, virtual coaching is the only way you have to improve their knowledge and skills to reach your organizational goals.
Benefits of virtual coaching
Here are a few benefits of virtual coaching that might help remove any little trepidation you might have before undertaking virtual coaching:
Growth and learning
Elearning or learning via screen makes it easier to retain information, whether it's for simple business processes or complex concepts like IBM I modernization. Recent research found that learning online increases retention rates by between25-60%. This naturally means that you’re saving on employee time. Employees can learn more and learn faster through virtual training. Elearning saves almost40-60% more time than traditional forms of learning.
Online coaching makes more productive learners out of employees, and you also don’t have time to lose your learning momentum.
Improves planning and problem-solving skills
Coaching improves problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The right trainer can teach people to ask the right questions and also train them in powerful problem-solving techniques. Whether it’s a complex problem-solving approach, like Six Sigma, or a simple one, like a fishbone analysis, coaching can help employees identify roadblocks in their day-to-day operations and improve them by applying the right method.
Decreased burnout and stress
Personalized digital coaching can decrease burnout by 52%. This figure is attributed to directly coaching people on mental health, nutrition, and maintaining a work/life balance. Experts teach practical ways to improve health and focus on good nutrition and holistic wellness.
When you book employees’ time for a coaching session, you’re giving them a break from their monotonous routine work. They get to catch their breath, sit among their peers, learn a few things from an expert, and forget about the urgencies and criticalities at work that increases stress.
Improves adaptability and resilience
Working with a coach allows you to approach challenges in a myriad of ways. You learn to manage setbacks and become resilient in the face of constant uncertainty. Coaches can help people enhance their adaptability and flexibility skills and gain ownership over their professional and personal lives.
Trust and teamwork
Group coaching boosts teamwork and engagement. With the right exercises, coaches can help people connect with their peers and build trust among them. If you have a diverse group of people taking part, training sessions are a great way to learn from people from different backgrounds and expand your thinking to accommodate their opinions.
Better individual and team performance
Implementing virtual coaching programs increases productivity by 86% and employee engagement by 56%. Virtual coaching can improve the learning experience to help reach individual and organizational goals. Coached employees tend to self-reflect, are more aware of their targets, and have a renewed sense of purpose. Virtual coaching improves performance and develops talent that has the skills and knowledge needed to achieve the best outcomes.
Challenges of coaching virtually
As much as we think that virtual coaching is the next best thing, compared to in-person coaching, it has its limitations. This is why most organizations and even institutions of learning have opted for a blended learning model where online educational content is blended with traditional teaching approaches.
Here are some of the major shortcomings of virtual coaching that dampen its effectiveness in comparison to other coaching trends we are witnessing today.:
Not everyone is comfortable with technology. Many people ignored the benefits of using chatbots and refused to engage with them because of apprehension and bias against new technology. But chatbots have proven to increase customer engagement. Similarly, people are not too sure about being coached via screen, especially if you don’t use a platform that is user-friendly.
The right video conferencing software should contribute to engagement and allow the trainer and the trainees to communicate efficiently online. You could use a cloud based phone system that has video capabilities, or you could use a separate video conferencing app.
If your software doesn’t have screen-sharing capabilities, you can use a screen-sharing app so anyone can share visuals. Ideally, you should also have a chat feature because not everyone is comfortable with speaking. The tool should also connect to all sorts of devices, i.e., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, or even with an e signature software.
Technology can be a barrier, but the right software can support the virtual coaching process.
Lack of experience
It does take a while to get people accustomed to learning online. Trainers and trainees both lack experience with using the tools for a virtual connection. Not just that, even with a perfect internet connection and the most user-friendly video conferencing software, communicating through a screen is challenging for most.
Virtual training isn’t like your average virtual meetings, as it requires more participation. For employees working remotely from home, there are many distractions to manage. The coaches need to be prepared to face these and remain calm.
One of the biggest advantages of virtual coaching is that you can invite employees from all your locations for a single session. Unfortunately, with time zones spread out as they are, some employees will be taking these coaching sessions early in the morning or late at night.
The virtual environment is unfamiliar to most. The social aspect of in-person coaching is what people end up missing the most. Replacing a public, conversational setting with a more professional VoIP audio and video conferencing tools takes away from some of the fun of attending a coaching session.
It’s up to the virtual coach to set the environment for the training. They have to ensure that everyone participates and no one dominates the conversation. There should also be ground rules to avoid conversational chaos. People shouldn’t be allowed to leave and enter at will or be allowed to multitask.
The nature of the digital environment is such that working in large groups is quite difficult. It’s hard to keep everyone engaged and ensure everyone is learning. The appropriate group size is 12.
For larger organizations, this means that they’ll have to book more sessions for their employees, which means a greater cost if the trainer isn’t in-house.
As technology continues to revolutionize all aspects of life, it's time to adjust our lives to take advantage of the exciting automl solutions technology available. Virtual coaching has a greater potential for impact on organizations that are serious about the development of their employees. Virtual coaching shouldn’t be compared to in-person coaching, but it should be evaluated against its results.
Create your online courses with an academic and strategic goal and use instant feedback during the coaching session to improve them. Key performance metrics should also be used to identify how effective the training was in achieving organizational goals.
Virtual coaching provides a fantastic opportunity to upskill any remote employee, regardless of location. It can give people the tools needed to make a difference and can accelerate results and build relationships. The virtual world can be an enabling space and an important vehicle for empowering people with a greater sense of purpose.
Author: Grace Lau - Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies and partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Grace has written for articles such as BPlans and ReputationX. Here is her LinkedIn.