Seven Ways to Customize Your Coaching Post-pandemic and Beyond
Back in November when we took over our roles as co-Leaders of ICF’s Health and Wellness Coaching Community of Practice, we chose High-tech versus High-touch: Coaching in a Virtual World” as the theme for our 2020 webinars. Little did we know what unbelievable foresight we had!
When the pandemic hit, we accelerated our planned 12-month program across six weeks to provide the ICF Members in our community with immediate and urgent support. Over the past four months we’ve had the privilege to organize and deliver webinars covering a variety of fascinating conversations around the high-tech versus high-touch topic. Thousands of attendees and dozens of experts explored this red-hot topic providing phenomenal and practical information to help our coaches get on with it fast—because we had no choice.
Let’s start with some definitions:
- High-touch coaching is coaching delivered face-to-face while physically present.
- High-tech coaching is coaching delivered with the support of apps or other technology.
- High-tailored coaching is highly individualized coaching offered by real coaches, in real time, using technology as a means of delivery.
Some virtual barriers can work miracles—even with emotions.
While many may feel that virtual coaching can block emotional or intimate relationships, we’ve discovered that this is not necessarily true. We’ve met new people and made new friends thanks to our virtual experiences. In fact, we’ve experienced this more than we might have in normal times since barriers of distance and culture have been completely broken down. One of our presenters, an Emotions Coach, described some of his optimal coaching relationships taking place telephonically by choice, due to physical presence creating discomfort. Feedback from our online group coaching revealed that many participants were surprised how much more comfortable they felt sharing online than in person physically. This means that some virtual barriers provided by technology might actually allow for more intimacy in coaching and can be the best fit.
Coaching apps are not the solution because people still crave authentic, real human exchange—perhaps more than ever.
We’ve noticed people were frustrated with coaching apps that provided a “digital only” solution without personal interactions and conversation. Solid coaching relationships depend on mutual respect, trust and presence. Though technology has been—and will continue to be—a tremendous means of support, it does not replace us.
Connection can be created using technology.
What we’ve called social distancing, and what we prefer to call physical distancing, has done just that: distanced us. We human beings thrive on human connection, emotions and relationships. We’ve learned that when coaching skillfully and applying the latest best practices, coaches can create an experience of deep connection, support and presence in a safe, courageous and empowering space for our clients.
We need new agreements and communication.
Live online coaching opens a new world of virtual challenges. We discovered the latest online concerns such as timeliness, dress-codes, safe-space, copyrights, hardware, software and confidentiality, just to name a few. All tech-supported coaching needs updated and appropriate agreements and communication to back it up. New rules, expectations, learning requirements and contingency plans—including ethical and legal considerations—must be developed and adapted to each culture, country and client. Communication—whether it be through coaching contracts, websites or social media—needs to take into consideration this modern-day paradigm.
We need to tailor it now!
This post-pandemic period is an outstanding opportunity to stop, look in the mirror and take a head-to-toe glance at our coaching practice so that it best fits today’s world.
7 Ways to Tailor Your Coaching Business Now
- Revisit your offerings and create a plan. Are your current coaching offerings appropriate for virtual work? If not, how might you adapt them?
- Choose which technical options best fit your offerings while creating a safe, supportive environment encouraging ongoing mutual respect and trust.
- Upskill your comfort level with technology (e.g., hardware, software, tools and trends).
- Revisit and learn ethical and legal standards, best-practice and virtual challenges.
- Update your communication according to your adapted offerings on your website, client agreements and social media.
- Always offer a complimentary “get to know you” session to test and explain your virtual specifics and agree with clients what they feel fits best about the coaching process and relationship.
- Request continuous feedback from clients. Be flexible, confident and spontaneous to change and ongoing improvement in your coaching delivery.
ICF defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Research shows that live coaching over virtual platforms is as effective as in person coaching for such partnering. Today more than ever we believe high-tech coaching is a nice-to-have, high-touch coaching is a wish-to-have and high-tailor coaching is a must-have.
Are you ready to look in the mirror? How does your current offering fit the definition of coaching and today’s obligations? Do you like what you see or is it time to do some tailoring for 2020 and beyond? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.