By Isabel Valle,Peak Performance Strategist and Leadership Coach, Global Room
Career and Leadership development is no longer limited to those in the Executive Suite. Virtual coaching replicates the functions of a live session and provides employees at all levels with relevant performance support on demand.
Here’s How Virtual Coaching Can Help Bridge Performance Gaps
If you were contemplating piano, soccer or math lessons for your children, you would not send them for three hours of training and expect their performance to improve. Instead, you would send them for ongoing coaching over a period of months, because we know that repetition and feedback over time make a difference. Well, it is no different in the workplace.
The benefits of coaching are clear. This discipline improves performance, employee retention, learning retention, employee engagement and behaviour change. It can even help eliminate the gender leadership gap.
Most training programs, especially online training programs, are really just focused on knowledge acquisition. This will not eliminate current performance challenges. That’s because simply knowing the information is not enough. Performance is about doing, and coaching is the best way to help people put what they know into practice correctly, confidently and consistently. Learners must practice making decisions in real-life scenarios. Coaching fills performance gaps by using experts to guide learners when they practice those new skills. Coaching provides a dynamic, personalized and targeted learning experience that fits around modern life. In fact, coaching is becoming a must-have for anyone who is looking to accelerate performance and results.
“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Another important approach in using virtual coaching is to help train and support managers and leaders to be better coaches themselves. This will help the organization provide sufficient and affordable coaching for everyone and it will also strengthen organizational leadership and competency development efforts. Experience shows that providing managers with access to an electronic coaching tool is an ideal way to give them the support they need to develop the coaching skills necessary to help their people perform better.
While in-person coaching is invaluable, it does present its challenges, especially when organizations want to use it for a large number of employees. It can be expensive, and it’s not always available in the location or in the moment of need.
Virtual coaching can help solve these problems. It can be used to provide the missing piece between training and top performance.
There is simply no technology – at least no technology that we’ve been able to develop yet – that can replace a one-on-one conversation with an expert coach. But when it comes to making sure large numbers of learners are able to get the practice they need to really integrate their new skills, and supporting that skill-building with coaching, technology can certainly provide a more efficient option.
Previous research suggests that length and delivery formats do not really impact on the effectiveness of coaching, as long as the coaching itself is of a high quality. Hence virtual coaching is just as effective as coaching in person.
Extensive new research also suggests that the future of coaching will definitely be remote. Shorter coaching times and remote coaching sessions are cost effective and much more accessible: this in itself will help many more people from all kinds of different backgrounds access the best coaching and mentoring talent out there.
Finding a qualified coach in some places can be a challenge, and in remote areas, it might just not be possible. As a seasoned expat myself, finding a professional English-speaking coach can also be a challenge in some host countries. Virtual coaching puts clients in touch with coaches from all over the world.
Because there is no travelling required to a physical office, online coaching saves you the time you could be spending in traffic. Virtual coaching is also perfect for busy professionals who have tight schedules and people who live in remote areas far from a coaching office, whilst allowing them to remain in the comfort of your own home or office.
Organizations today recognize that new energy and new direction, as well as new skills and better performance, are needed to succeed. What they may not realize, however, is that employees themselves are reacting to current workplace challenges and want access to relevant performance support as they need it, when they need it. A dangerous assumption to make is the fact that managers and others are providing coaching support to all workers when they need it.
Employees nowadays want coaching that will help them achieve better results — just like what Senior Executives have been receiving for years. People urgently need, welcome and appreciate work-related input, feedback and advice — the kind of support active coaching typically offers — but often little or none is provided.
Technology offers organizations new options for helping workers meet current performance challenges, and it is opening the door to the widespread use of innovative solutions.
Coaching will begin to catch up with learning as a technology-delivered strategy. Successful organizational leaders will make coaching an essential component of all performance improvement efforts and offer virtual coaching to more workers at all levels to achieve and maintain peak performance.
Technology platforms for learning, coaching, managing and enhancing performance will become more integrated to facilitate their use in increasingly complementary ways. And organizations will provide increasing support for managers and leaders as coaches. Companies will realize that using technology in combination with the human touch will be the best way to use coaching to help them address performance challenges and improve workplace productivity.
Ultimately, organizations that are able to improve both the technology-supported and personally supported delivery of learning opportunities and coaching will be leaders in workplace performance.
There is no doubt that acceptance of virtual coaching will continue to grow, and decision makers in all types of organizations will recognize the value. This option will provide the kind of support that all individuals and their managers need to work at their best and achieve important performance objectives. The time is right, the need is great, and the ability to create and deliver what’s needed is now possible.
Certainly, as remote coaching grows, we will see a rise in flexible, accessible and frequent opportunities for development – and our businesses will be better for it.
In the future, it is likely that the work of senior managers will be concerned with coaching. They won’t need to intervene in the management of things, operations and processes, yet they will still be called upon to provide leadership, and they will be able to focus on the big picture: vision, the goal, the atmosphere and the company’s culture and ways of working.
It is not likely that robots could ever become charismatic leaders of organizations. Robots can only do what their machine-learning systems have been programmed to do, and it is not possible to program such systems to develop fully as people.
Among the most important, future-proof working competences, such as interaction and communication, self-management, prioritization, experimentation, rapid learning, creativity and lateral thinking, virtual coaching will provide forward-thinking, leading companies with real-time support, feedback and learning solutions to help their people perform at their best – all the time.
Isabel is an experienced ICF Coach with over 20 years of international work experience holding senior positions within the hospitality industry in countries around the world, as well as Executive and Leadership coaching, mentoring and training. Isabel specializes in high performance strategy, leadership development and building organizational culture. More available on www.isabelvalle.com