What is the future of coaching?

This week’s blog has been inspired by our attendance at the International Coach Federation (ICF) annual conference.

If the average attention span of a Millennial is 8 seconds, and popularity of digital and remote learning is ever-increasing, how can we ensure that coaching – a person-centric, relationship-based development – continues to add value?

A panel discussion at the conference discussed ways in which we call all ensure that coaching continues to adapt to the changing needs of employees.  Here’s a summary of 4 things we can all bear in mind:

  1. Face-to-face coaching complements digital and remote learning perfectly. Employees can gain initial inspiration from a YouTube video, or an idea or tip from an online portal, but the real learning comes from an individual being able to talk about how to bring this to life for them, given their own unique and particular set of circumstances and emotions.  In the words of Simon Hayward on the panel discussion, ‘the learning needs to be personalised.’
  1. Coaching sessions these days are more often than not held remotely. It’s very common for a first session to be face-to-face, followed by subsequent sessions over Skype or phone.  Digital connectivity is only getting better over time so we can experience interruption and delay-free interactions fairly consistently.  We are all getting more confident and braver in technology and it’s becoming more and more normal to see and hear ourselves on pod-casts, webinars and YouTube clips!
  1. When coaching with organisations over time, coaches collate generalised and powerful cultural data, which is invaluable to leaders and HR teams to build a true and accurate picture of life on the ‘front-line.’ No online-learning programme comes anywhere near to the humanistic ability to translate messages of ‘what it feels like to work here.’  However, we need to embrace this data; feed it back and ensure leaders can link it to performance targets.
  1. One-to-one connection with people relieves isolation and loneliness – something which is particularly relevant to someone on Parental Leave or returning from long-term sickness – but is affecting us all more and more (read more here about the loneliness epidemic). An increased reliance on technology and emails over face to face meetings, Skype calls instead of overseas travel - can (and does) increase feelings of isolation.  Having a coach or an internal mentor is like having your own personal supporter – someone you can trust and who you know has your best interests at heart.  Good coaches and mentors also encourage growing networks and connecting with potential role models as a way of development – would you do this off your own back?

So yes, of course coaching is adding more value than ever!  However, we all need to continue to raise our standards and adapt our coaching methodology to changing needs.  To really maximise the value-add in the above 4 areas, coaches, HR and leaders should:

  1. Look for blended-learning opportunities – a mix of digital and face to face
  2. Be technically and digitally brave – take our lead from the Millennials and let them teach us how to embrace social media
  3. Get really good at contracting, collating meaningful, confidential yet powerful cultural data – and using it internally to monitor and drive performance
  4. Recognise that we all need to feel connected and part of a team. We may not know it, we may not vocalise it, but we need to find ways of spending time and building more meaningful relationships

 

Thank you for providing inspiration for this week’s blog:
Ilias Vartholomaios, CEO of OWIWI, Nicola Cairncross, Author, Speaker and Podcaster & Dr Simon Hayward, CEO of Cirrus

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