How To Nail Coaching In A Virtual Environment

Most of us are still adapting to a world where we work either entirely or partly remotely.  So, let’s explore how to nail coaching in a virtual environment, and the key steps in identifying where a team needs to grow when it’s not physically together.

The pandemic has shown companies that work doesn’t all have to happen at the office, but do leaders understand what enables this virtual work to “work” in the longer term too!  Continued success of remote working requires a different leadership, as you can’t lead your remote workers in the exact same way you led your office-based workers.

How do you find and plug the gaps if you’re not together?

With remote working, everyone misses the informal chats you were always having around the coffee machine; with communications often becoming more formal than they have been.  Think of it this way, could your organization be successful if your people only followed documented processes?  No way, right?  Therefore, it’s often the informal links that make things happen faster and are the trigger to make improvements in the way things get done.   Promote ways for your people to understand their common interests, and they will have great conversation starters to build stronger informal links.

What are the new challenges you find yourselves facing?

The biggest challenge becomes motivating your people and keeping the collaboration strong across the team.  Some leaders have not registered this as their most important challenge, and have been focused on how do I monitor my people’s computers so I know they are working!  The goal remains the same whether your people are in the office or working from home:  Keeping your people’s motivation high and collaborating well with each other.

Linked to this challenge is the environment you are now leading within.  Before, you had one environment…the office.  Now, you are leading a team made up of everyone’s home environments with each of your people finding their best ways to manage work, children, partner and home all at the same time.  With all these environments, your leadership has to be more flexible now; with the need to start managing progress and achievement, and not just activities.

What does successful coaching in a virtual environment look like?

As a leader, your style needs to move away from control to be an enabler.  With so many environments your people are working in, your role is in coaching your people to find their best way of working, with your first goal keeping your people motivated and being as effective in their roles as possible.  Then, it’s about providing the right visibility of the team so that your people understand how their work fits in with others and how dependent your people are on each other too.  It’s about coaching, motivating and providing your people with the right information and visibility to collaborate better with each other.

What should you focus on first?

Remember this:  Frequency is more important than time.  How often and the variety of your communications with your people (and between your people) is more important than large blocks of time together.   Your role is encouraging your people to pick up the phone or message each other versus always waiting for the formal meetings to communicate.  Whether your people are in the office or at home, you want them to be pro-active and deal with issues and opportunities in “real time”.

You can’t dictate a new way of working.  Your role is to facilitate ideas from everyone in your team and for your team to adopt new behaviors that can integrate with everyone’s different working environments at home.

Download the free assessment from my home page and review your own leadership behaviors.