Twelve months on, where are they now?

November 10, 2017

Yesterday I caught up with a few of the ladies who took part in my research into online coaching and behavioural change last year.   Twelve months on they have all transformed in their thinking and behaviour. They are feeling more confident, putting themselves forward for promotion, having difficult conversations and taking more risks.

Research design

Online coaching is an emerging field with very little research at present. My investigation explored the individual’s experience of taking part in an online coaching programme, which includes synchronous (live) and asynchronous (not live) coaching and individual and group coaching. The sample for this study was young women as research demonstrates that coaching is made available for women earlier in their career, such as early to mid-30s to help develop self-confidence, self-belief, and leadership skills. The programme explored different methods and approaches to help develop self-confidence in young women to see if behavioural change can be achieved.

The research design was an exploratory, mixed method, longitudinal study; using a sample size of 12 women, from two organisations, as well as one individual participant. The online coaching programme took place over six weeks with quantitative and qualitative data gathered on two separate occasions using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews.

Conclusions and recommendations

Drawing together the current thinking, research objectives and findings, demonstrates how online coaching using synchronous and asynchronous coaching, combined with individual and group coaching, creates a powerful range of methods to facilitate behavioural change. The study demonstrates that coaching young women, individually and as a group, helps develop self-confidence. Having the time and space to think about the future and what they would like to achieve in their business and personal lives, encouraged risk taking, which led to new learnings and behavioural change.

Four key recommendations put forward from my research include:

The first recommendation is for coaches and organisations to consider offering customised online coaching programmes for all, not just gender specific, moving away from the traditional model of face-to-face coaching. One of the key findings, is the flexibility of using synchronous and asynchronous coaching; combined with individual and group coaching, meets different learning styles and needs. By bringing together individuals from different age groups, millennials with older more experienced individuals, will help bring fresh thinking, build and develop new collaborative relationships, build social capital, break down silos, and shape organisations going forward. In order to achieve these goals, it is vitally important that a psychologically safe environment is created, so that individuals are happy to open up and share. Online coaching offers enormous flexibility and with no geographical boundaries, saves the client, the organisation and the coach valuable time and money.

The second recommendation is for organisations to offer combined individual and group online coaching programmes for women only. The current thinking and findings, support the importance of giving women a psychologically safe online environment in which to develop skills, share knowledge and experiences, which builds relationships and social capital. Social capital can be challenging for females to develop, which can be a potential barrier to career advancement. One of the key benefits of online coaching is the learning and development is taking place from the comfort of their own environment, whether that is the individual’s home, office, coffee shop; the choice is theirs. Being in a comfortable, safe online environment encourages individuals to open up, share and offload emotions; drawing comfort from knowing others are facing similar challenges.

The third recommendation is for coaches and organisations to consider creating a library of high quality online coaching resources, to encourage individuals towards self-directed learning. For example, creating a range of tools including videos, audio content, workbooks, reading resources; meets different learning styles and preferences and puts the client in control of how they like to learn and absorb information. This can be used stand alone or included as part of an online individual or group coaching session to answer questions, develop skills, share knowledge and experiences. One of the findings from the research is the lack of interaction and being able to ask questions in some online learning environments. These resources could also be made available to internal coaches within organisations.

The fourth recommendation is for individuals, organisations and coaches to learn and understand about the importance and impact of psychological safety when working with groups; another key finding from this research. It does not take much to change the dynamics of group behaviour, and it is very important to learn how to create an environment that is safe enough to take risks, which is where a coach can help.   Companies who run leadership programmes, should take the dimensions of psychological safety into account when designing online coaching programmes. There is a lot of literature on psychological safety in team work and team development, but very little on the subject in the coaching literature. A recommended topic for further research.

With society moving online and individuals and companies lacking in time and resources, online coaching can provide a solution.  If you or your organisation are interested in exploring the benefits of individual or group online coaching then please do get in touch with Sharon@ucantraining.com or call 01252 792811.