Virtual online coaching for companies
While business coaching has long been part of companies’ everyday life, the pandemic and hybrid working models have only recently highlighted the potential of online coaching. This article tells you how to deliver online coaching and which media to use, sets out the benefits to companies and employees, and explains how software solutions can make coaching even more cost-effective.
What does online coaching actually mean?
The first thing you think of when you hear the term “coaching” will probably be euphoric talks by well-known lifestyle coaches on large stages. But coaching is not only concerned with lifestyle or motivating top managers—it can also be used wherever there is a goal be achieved. At the heart of coaching is direct communication between coach and client. Coaches work over a medium- to long-term period, helping their clients achieve their goals and solve any problems that arise in the process, offering support rather than advice. Thus they do not offer ready-made solutions, but help people reflect on their own actions, strengths, and weaknesses, and to use these findings to optimize outcomes. With regard to personal development, the focus is usually on improving leadership skills and the quality of relationships, adapting these to the professional working environment.
As the name suggests, with online coaching, the process takes place online. In the same way as with online courses, a wide variety of media can be used, the most popular being one-to-one video discussions. Chats and simulations are also used, depending on participants’ objectives. Coaching is often supplemented with more traditional eLearning formats. According to the Sherpa Coaching Survey, 59% of coaching sessions in the US take place online.
Types of virtual coaching
1. One-on-one meetings over the web
As already indicated, video calls are currently the most popular format for online coaching. These replicate almost exactly the face-to-face coaching sessions that coaches used to have with one or more clients. This is known as synchronous coaching. Coach and client have the opportunity to interact in real time and enter into a dialog. The platform provides internal whiteboards to assist with the visualization of ideas.
2. Media-supported coaching
With media-supported coaching, also known as asynchronous coaching, coach and client use a range of media, which entails a certain amount of time delay. Questionnaires and text-based chat systems such as WhatsApp might be used, for example, sometimes in combination with online courses. Synchronous and asynchronous coaching can also be easily combined. For example, media-supported coaching on conflict management could first be introduced through an online course and later discussed individually with a coach. The coach might later have a WhatsApp chat with learners to help them apply what they have learned. So if a specific conflict situation arises, the clients can contact the coach via chat and ask for advice. This also makes it possible to determine what need there is for additional discussion.
3. Standardized simulations
Standardized simulations are not human-to-human communication, but realistic simulations of communication. They use special coaching software, which today is mostly based on artificial intelligence. This enables the software to depict dynamic conversations and give direct feedback on individual stages.
Benefits of digital coaching
Eliminate travel costs
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of digital coaching is that, in contrast to face-to-face coaching, it incurs neither travel nor accommodation costs, and learners don’t have to spend time traveling to and from it. This makes online coaching significantly more resource-efficient for both companies and their clients.
Since there’s no need to organize travel, online coaching usually also makes it a lot easier to arrange appointments than for face-to-face coaching—especially if more than two people are involved.
Since physical distance isn’t relevant to virtual coaching, you don’t have to take geography into account when looking for the right coach. Instead, you can simply consider the quality of your coach.
Online coaching enables clients to work in familiar and/or private surroundings, creating a protective space that lowers inhibitions and promotes open dialog. This can lead to more rapid results, especially when it comes to sensitive topics or the development of soft skills.
Typical applications of online coaching in the corporate context
Preparation for recruitment processes
Sure, there may be a whole range of general tips to help candidates deal with assessment centers and job interviews. However, when it comes to more demanding recruitment processes, general information just isn’t enough—the starting points are too diverse and the individual character of the person involved is too important. In such cases, online coaching supports candidates with preparation and can take into account all individual circumstances, such as resume, strengths, weaknesses, specialisms, profile, soft skills, and character traits.
Onboarding coaching supports new employees during their induction phase with regard to leadership, focus and collaboration with others, but also provides product-specific training. A coach acts as an experienced interlocutor, ensuring that new employees quickly get to grips with all aspects of their new roles and come up with targeted solutions. Especially where the onboarding of new executives is concerned, coaching can ensure that any new strategies are really suited to the company. At the same time, one-to-one support allows individual strengths to be recognized and nurtured right from the start.
Training for conversations
Sales and service staff often have to have challenging conversations on a daily basis, especially where they are dealing with customers. Training staff to handle such conversations means you need to present them with the same dynamics and types of individuals as they encounter in real life as far as possible. Coaching simulators offer a more cost-efficient but no less effective alternative to traditional coaching. They make it possible to train for individual scenarios, with responses that adapt to the discussion in real time. In this way, your employees can learn which statements provoke which reactions in the other party and adjust their communication accordingly.
Training for processes
Coaching software can also be used to present staff with process simulations and provide training on machine operation, or on how to react in the event of a fire, for example. Multiple-choice questions (How do you work the fire extinguisher? What do you need to do next?), information and feedback on each stage of the process is used to simulate individuals’ actions and enable immediate reflection on the decisions taken. Using virtual reality can make the coaching experience even more realistic. But even without VR, coaching software is an ideal way to provide training on situations that cannot be practiced in real life, or that would be excessively resource-intensive to practice.
Online coaching with Knowledgeworker Coach
Knowledgeworker Coach is an interactive behavioral trainer that can be used whenever employees need the best preparation for specific communication scenarios. It enables you—independently of coaches—to train them to handle sales, requests for advice and emergencies, and to provide them with information and develop their empathy to ensure they react appropriately to customer complaints. Knowledgeworker Coach is able to portray specific conversations and situations, and to change them dynamically depending on your employees’ answers. Learners see facial expressions or other changing images, for example, and thus learn how the answer they have chosen alters course of the conversation. Direct feedback gives the exercises a realistic feel and ensures that training has a long-lasting effect. Videos can also be easily integrated into coaching and create an authentic—and thus more effective—learning environment. In short, Knowledgeworker Coach promotes goal- and results-oriented communication and trains our employees to behave appropriately.
This not only has a positive impact on external perceptions of your company and your customer relationships, but also helps your employees to deal with difficult situations.
The bottom line
The pandemic and hybrid working models mean businesses need appropriate digital solutions for staff training and development. Online coaching offers a range of media and software that conserves resources and above all presents a crisis-proof counterpart to existing face-to-face formats—with no need to compromise.
Some coaching scenarios, such as communication and behavioral training, can be delivered much more cost-effectively in digital form.
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