AS SEEN IN HUMAN RESOURCES MAGAZINE NZ
As a result of our globalised and
world, ways of working have
significantly changed. One of the
most obvious changes, is that of employees
working remotely across the globe within
different time zones. This presents challenges
to an organisation particularly when it comes
to staff development.
Although people development activities
can be provided via online learning, this does
lack that all important human interaction.
However, remote based coaching can still
provide great outcomes and in this article I
will discuss the elements that facilitate great
outcomes for remote based coaching clients.
The traditional 70/20/10 Lombardo and
Eichinger learning model includes an element
of coaching therein. However, this model
was developed well before we had the pace
of change, globalisation and technological
connectivity which are now present.
It is therefore suggested that this model
may not be as agile nor current for the world
of work today and that coaching, from
coaches who are current in their experience,
skills and thinking, may now play a greater
role in an employee’s and organisation’s
The benefits of Coaching as part of
employee development and feedback are
widely documented and include:
ºº Adding human skills to an employee’s
functional and technical skills
ººHaving someone to challenge in
a non-confrontational way
ºº Enhancing communication and
ºº Ensuring connection, belonging
ºº Enhancing overall wellness
ºº Assisting the coachee to have a
strategic and future oriented outlook.
Various studies on Coaching return on
investment (ROI) have ranged from 100
percent to over 500 percent depending on
the scope of responsibilities, span of control
and revenue, cost centres or number of
employees managed by the coachee.
Why remote based coaching?
Many organisations now employ staff over
multiple locations and varying working
arrangements. For instance, there has been
the growth of fly in fly out (FIFO) workers,
virtual workers, regional workers, travelling
workers and global workers. There is also
greater demand for work-life integration
and working with employees across
multiple time zones.
With these various remote employment
models in place plus the importance for
organisations to maintain a skilled and
connected workforce, there is an additional
challenge in these employees participating in
traditional development programmes.
Whilst remotely based employees may
be able to undertake either online learning
or participate in face-to-face courses, this
does require a “mutual convenience” factor
and may actually not be as tailored to the
needs of the individual. Therefore, remote
based coaching, whether delivered by
internal organisational coaches or external
organisational coaches, may be beneficial
to provide both a tailored approach and a
human interface to the individual employee.
Given these changes in organisational
structures and individual employment
models, remote based coaching
may provide a solution to ensure the
development of such employees. Whilst
such coaching will not necessarily facilitate
the benefits of group dynamics when a team
based course is delivered, such coaching
may deliver many other benefits to both the
individual and the organisation.
Such benefits could include factors such as:
ºº Greater choice of coaches - facilitating
remote based coaching opens up the
choice of coaches that may be available
to the individual as it is not dependent
on a physically co-located coach. This
may include coaches from around
the world depending on the skill sets
and “coach chemistry” required.
ººMore focused - the coaching may be
more effective and focused as a result of
both the individual and the coach being
better prepared beforehand. Both may
also potentially have access to other
resources at their place of coaching,
being the respective workplaces or maybe
home environments of each of them.
ºº Convenience - the coaching can be
delivered in a convenient way and at
a convenient time, meeting the busy
schedules of both the individual and
ºº Time effective - remote coaching can
be very time effective as it eliminates
the need for commuting for both the
coach and the individual. It will normally
be far more focused on the actions
and outcomes required without some
of the “fluff” that may otherwise be
undertaken with face-to-face coaching.
ºº Cost effective - Given that there is less
commuting time and less potential
office space required to undertake
coaching sessions, remote based
coaching may be more cost effective
because of a reduction in the cost base
for both the coachee and the coach.
ºº Faster access - Due to the ability to
fit it into busy diary commitments,
coaching can be delivered in a far quicker
manner and on an 'as needed basis'.
ººMay be more open - Due to the coachee
sitting in their own environment, remote
based coaching can often lead to the
individual feeling more comfortable
and therefore prepared to be more
open and expansive about their issues,
feelings and other potential coaching
aspects. Furthermore, particularly if
undertaken via telephone, it may also
mean that there is a perception of
distance in their interaction which will
facilitate a more open disclosure.
Whilst there are many benefi ts to remote
based coaching, there are some other
challenges that arise without the benefi ts
of face-to-face interaction. Whilst not
insurmountable, these challenges do
need to be taken into account and if
possible, mitigation strategies may need
to be used which include a combination of
some face-to-face meetings and possibly
using videoconferencing rather than just
Specifi c challenges that may arise with
remote based coaching include:
ºº the coach may not easily sense body
language and what is “not being said”.
ºº unless there is an agreement on the
coaching protocols, there is a risk that
either party may not be fully “present”
during the coaching. They may become
distracted by other people around them
or by such aspects as emails, other
Internet sites, television and radio.
ººwhen coaching across international
boundaries, there may be a risk of
cross cultural differences getting in the
way of an effective coach interaction.
However, this can be mitigated by a deep
understanding of the Geert Hofstede cross
cultural dimensions model and the use
of assessments and discussion to identify
these differences with the coaching.
There are a number of other considerations
that should be taken into account with
remote based coaching. These include:
ºº Foundation assessments - the use
of psychometric assessments at the
commencement of the coaching
process is recommended. This will
provide a foundation for discussion
and understanding of both parties
as to how the individual will respond
to the coaching and development
of appropriate action plans.
ºº Silence and active listening - When
a coaching session takes place via
telephone or video conferencing, it is
just as important (as with an ordinary
coaching meeting) that the coach allows
both silence and ensures active listening.
ºº Start with a face-to-face meeting - if
possible, it is recommended that the
coaching interaction commences with
a face-to-face meeting or alternatively
a video conference meeting using
such facilities as GoToMeeting,
Google Hangouts or Skype in order to
develop rapport and understanding.
ººQuiet environment - to ensure
minimum distraction for both
the coachee and coach.
ºº Collaboration software - the
use of software such as Google
Docs or Microsoft Office 365 can
facilitate collaborative working
between the coachee and the coach,
particularly the sharing of screens,
documents and other resources.
ºº Social media - it is also possible using
the power of social media including
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to
maintain a point of contact between
the coach and coachee with regular
and timely updating on these sites
provided the two parties are connected.
ºº Group Coaching - given the power
of software such as GoToMeeting,
Google Hangouts and Skype it is also
possible that the individual coaches
may participate in group coaching
sessions with other colleagues if this is an
appropriate part of the development plan.
In a now fast-changing and ever
connected world, remote based coaching
can provide tailored just-in-time learning
and development to a new cohort of
employees who are not physically present
in a specifi c organisational location to the
same extent as previously was the case.
The benefi ts of such coaching for both
the development and engagement of
the individual and the improvement in
diversity, inclusion and human capital
for the organisation should far outweigh
any challenges that arise from how this
coaching is delivered. HR