While most of my coaching is currently done face to face, over the last few years I have also worked with many clients remotely, and have found the virtual coaching experience to be different, but just as effective. In fact, sometimes phone coaching can be more effective and efficient than meeting in person. I am seeing a shift as more of my new and established clients have opted for phone appointments. Even if you prefer to continue to meet in person, as we enter a season where inclement weather might prevent us from meeting in person, I wanted to share some guidelines for virtual coaching that I have found useful.
1) Location Still Matters. Your physical setting will impact the success of any coaching conversation. In my office, I seek to provide privacy and minimize distractions, based on my client’s needs. Sometimes this means going for a walk – which I have done on more than one occasion for a client who needs to move while he processes new information! When coaching virtually, I ask that you take the same care to minimize distractions and to meet your needs for privacy or movement as we talk. For me, I usually sit in a comfortable chair with only a legal yellow pad in front of me to take notes. I would not coach a client in front of my laptop or with any other person in the room.
2) Focus, focus, focus. Coaching is a significant investment of time and resources. A coaching conversation is a unique interaction – unlike a regular meeting or phone conversation where you can be distracted and still get the gist of it. Come expecting results. Come with an agenda, however vague it might seem to you at the time. I work with my own coach remotely, and I always have a sentence or two prepared so she knows the direction I need to go. Since I can get distracted easily by my side issues, she will often check in with me to see if we are covering what I needed to cover, or if I have gone off on an unproductive or untimely tangent. I will do the same for you. As you become acclimated to coaching, you will become aware of the issues that are surfacing during the week as you pursue your goals and new behaviors. These are the topics to share with me as your coach, as well as any positive or negative feedback you are getting along the journey. A good question to focus your session is, “What would I like to (know, feel, do) by the end of this session?” You might also ask, “What did I set out to do since our last session?” Or, “What results did I get, or what new information or obstacles impacted my outcome?” Our focus is always to provide tools, strategies, and accountability to keep you moving forward.
3) Get the right equipment. Keep it simple. I prefer phone over video, as it minimizes the awkwardness and potential distraction of technology glitches. There is also a freedom from the distraction of physical appearance that allows a client to focus on deeper issues and be less self-conscious. A blue tooth headset and a place to take notes is all you need!
4) Leave some margin. Taking a few minutes to relax before the session will help you come focused and prepared. You are cheating yourself if you are driving to another appointment or checking your email during your coaching session. Sometimes this is unavoidable, so let me know when we begin our session if your environment is compromised or if you have time constraints. I have noticed that undistracted phone appointments tend to be much more efficient than a meeting in person, and we can usually accomplish in 30-40 minutes what might take an hour at the office. If it sounds like you are ready to end early, I will ask you if the session feels complete for you. I would also encourage you to use the extra time after the session to process your thoughts and begin taking some action on the things we discussed. Even a few minutes can make a big difference in your results for the week!
January is typically a great month for phone appointments – and sometimes is a necessity due to the weather or other circumstances. Please let Kara know if this is something you would like to try on a regular basis and we’ll make the arrangements. Please also see our office policy on inclement weather below. I do enjoy both coaching formats and will continue to offer both options for my clients as our schedules allow!
Inclement Weather Policy:
Meetings missed due to inclement weather are difficult to reschedule, so our policy is to hold the meeting via phone at the regularly scheduled time if either party doesn’t feel that traveling out is a good idea. If area schools are canceled or delayed, I will likely request a phone appointment in lieu of meeting in person. Thanks for understanding!