5 Tips for Managers Coaching Virtually

As leaders and managers grappled with daunting new challenges amid the COVID-19 outbreak, organizations saw a need to provide them with additional coaching and support. With in-person mentoring and coaching not possible, many turned to virtual coaching. Today I’m sharing 5 Tips for Managers Coaching Virtually.

  1. Know Your Technology

For the coach intent on working effectively, it starts with familiarity and competency with the technology platform(s). Not only are there many platform options, there are also more device options to accommodate.  Use these tools to engage! Ways to engage while using a technology include taking a survey or poll, using the chat feature, creating break out rooms for small conversations, and screen share.

2. Set a Schedule, and Stick to it

The goal of coaching virtual teams is an optimal team coaching experience and the best use of the team’s time, attention, and energy. The format and schedule will vary from team to team depending on availability, budget, and geography.  Consider how long your coaching sessions are, the size of your team and time zone issues.

3. Consider the Structure

Every team coaching session, whether it is in-person or virtual, is an opportunity for the team to do real work on an important team issue. The team picks a relevant and timely issue that needs a solution or a plan, and then conducts a meeting, and the coach/manager observes the team dynamics in action which creates abundant material for feedback and coaching.  Build rapport, set goals for accountability and learning, leave time for brainstorming or planning and consider including personal appreciation or acknowledgment.  Recognition is powerful!

4. Facilitation

With team coaching, the most important conversation is the one team members have with each other. That’s where real change happens. As coaches, we are responsible for creating the conditions for that conversation and managing the process.  Be transparent with the team: set the context. The goal is to maximize limited time together so have the team set ground rules that support participation. Continued transparency will be key to the success of the process.

Watch for:

  • The voice that dominates. Sometimes it’s a powerful voice; sometimes it’s an enthusiastic voice but often they leave little air time for others.
  • Silent voice. It has a presence—but not a contribution. Sometimes it’s the result of thoughtful reflection; sometimes it’s holding back.
  • The team leader. the team leader has a unique impact on the team conversation.
  • Conversational chaos. People talking over one another; interrupting; loss of focus; too many agendas at once.

5. Manage You

Coaches are learning to get the balance right between intervening, listening and observing. As coaches, we are responsible for the process, but that doesn’t mean being a dominant voice. Notice the natural temptation to fill the airspace and overcompensate when the team gets quiet. Pay attention to your own self-management tendencies and triggers.  Your primary focus is still to listen below the surface of the conversation. Listen for the undercurrents and be curious about what’s happening underneath at the emotional and team dynamic level because the team is not likely to be listening at that level. As coach, your value is in helping the team to see the habits and patterns in the way they interact.