Virtual executive coaching is not a new concept. Even in the pre-COVID era, many coaches and their coachees chose to conduct the process virtually. The global pandemic, however, forced organizations around the world to shift executive coaching from virtual as “optional” to virtual as “default.”
For some executive coaches, the virtual coaching experience may be nothing new; for others, there’s been a steep learning curve. As virtual coaching continues to be the primary modality used, it brings both opportunities and challenges.
Battling Virtual Fatigue
The increase in virtual work and communication that occurred rapidly over the past few years has resulted in a population that’s more comfortable with technology and communicating remotely. This shift has made the acceptance of the virtual executive coaching experience much higher.
But on the other hand, the fatigue that has come with increased virtual meetings can lead to the virtual coaching experience feeling like a burden for some. Many leaders are swamped with back-to-back online meetings and may approach virtual executive coaching sessions with fatigue. Others think coaching sessions held in an online setting may lack the human connection needed to be effective. To combat these challenges, it’s important for coaches to be comfortable asking their coachees questions like:
- “I noticed…is everything all right?”
- “What else is going on in your space?”
- “What was your body reaction when you said…?”
Questions like these can aid in making the virtual executive coaching experience a co-creation process, using technology in the best way possible to achieve positive outcomes for both the coachee and the organization.
How to Create a Strong Virtual Executive Coaching Experience
The first way a coach can enhance a virtual executive coaching experience is to make the space more comfortable. Then, consider ways to foster deeper connections on-screen. And finally, focus on co-creation to leverage technology in the best way possible. Here are a few ways to improve in each of these areas:
1. Create comfort.
- Ensure you and your coachee have a quiet, cozy space for the virtual meeting.
- Close all unnecessary tabs and windows during the meeting and encourage your coachee to do the same.
- Make sure your lighting and background are flattering to set a positive tone.
- Set an alarm to allow time for breaks during longer sessions and to ensure a buffer between virtual meetings.
- Establish a backup platform for the virtual executive coaching experience in case the original planned connection method fails.
2. Build connection.
- Start a coaching session with warm-up questions to establish rapport and help the coachee shift gears.
- Look directly into the camera to create virtual eye contact.
- Ensure sessions are on full-screen mode to capture full attention.
- Pay close attention to non-verbal cues and “vibes.”
3. Co-create the experience.
- Let go of the assumption that the camera must be on to be effective and co-create a common virtual space.
- Encourage coachees to walk around and take breaks during sessions to change the energy.
- Ask thoughtful questions to ensure the coachee is getting the most out of the experience.
One thing is certain: Virtual coaching is here to stay. The question is: “How do we elevate the virtual coaching experience so that we create greater impact on leaders as well as the organizations they serve?” This white paper reveals strategies and tactics that our global network of coaches recommends in order to get the most out of the virtual executive coaching experience.
Download White Paper
Download this white paper to discover tips for creating impact through the virtual coaching experience in order to get the most out of the medium.