Coaching goes online

February 17, 2017

Everything seems to be moving online these days. Whether it’s shopping, banking, booking holidays or restaurants, we’re all logging on.

So, having been involved in training and development for over 20 years, when it came to choosing a research topic for the final stage of my MSc, I decided to investigate the effectiveness of online coaching in achieving behavioural change in women. And, being a natural risk taker, who regularly throws herself off the cliff, I had to make it more difficult by experimenting with combining the two disciplines – traditional and web-based.

BUT WHERE TO START?

Finding a minimum of ten females who were willing to participate in the ‘freebee’ exercise proved harder than I had expected. But eventually, the stage was set. All I had to do was decide on the structure for the sessions, and the best technology to use.

SKIPPING AHEAD

Three months on, the feedback has been unanimously positive and I will certainly be offering an online coaching service to my clients in the future, whether for groups, individuals or both. But it was quite a learning curve.

THE LEARNING PROCESS

Never having undertaken detailed research before, I had to figure out qualitative (numbers) and quantitative (words) methods. And, I have to be honest, a lot of the terminology went right over my head, but in the end I opted for a mixed method approach which meant using both.

I began with a pre-programme questionnaire to find out more about each participant’s behaviour patterns, followed by an interview to gauge their experiences of online coaching and training. Armed with this knowledge, I designed the programme to include:

  • The importance of having a vision and setting goals
  • Reflective practice, which focuses on developing awareness of how your thoughts, emotions, and actions are shaping and influencing your behaviour
  • Managing conflict and holding difficult conversations
  • Becoming aware of self-limiting belief patterns which can be consciously examined and updated.

The structure of the programme included two group coaching sessions, delivered live online, using Zoom, a video software product; two one-to-one coaching sessions, using Facetime, Skype, WebEx or Zoom – the choice was theirs; and two pre-recorded videos and workbooks on goal setting and exploring how to change negative thought patterns – the participants were able to review these in their own time, over the Christmas period.

In addition, we set up a WhatsApp group to create a safe environment to share knowledge and experiences.

WAS IT PERFECT?

Changing behaviours takes time and, in an ideal world, I would have run the programme over a six to twelve month period. However, as I have a business to run and clients to look after, I opted for a six-week challenge.

The programme began in November and finished in January and I have to say that it has been an amazing journey for all of us. I’m currently analysing the data and, over the coming months, I will share my conclusions with you. But, already, I have no doubt that online coaching is the way to go, both in tandem with traditional methods and standalone.

I now have to write 15,000 words about my online coaching experiment, along with a 5,000 personal challenge, covering my journey at Henley Business School. This is going to be my real challenge, as writing is not a natural strength, but it has to be done if I want to graduate in September with an MSc in coaching and behavioural change. And that’s what I’m determined to do.

To find out more about online coaching and how it can benefit you and your business, email sharon@ucantraining.com