Should I take online coaching

Coaching - from now on only online?

Overcome hurdles in online coaching

In March of this year, like everyone else, I was faced with a choice: Do I carry out my coaching sessions online or do I postpone them indefinitely?

I already carried out online coaching before Corona. Therefore, the change was relatively easy for me and over the last few months I have got used to coaching exclusively online. My clients also quickly appreciated the advantages of the online sessions. At times there was no alternative. The question arises: Is that it now with the face-to-face coaching?

The advantages of online coaching are obvious:

• Greater flexibility because there is no need to travel there. Sometimes you can even "insert" coaching spontaneously.
• The time, organizational and financial effort on both sides is considerably lower than with face-to-face coaching.
• Coaching across the country and across national borders is possible: Berlin in the morning, Frankfurt at noon, New York in the evening.

The technical requirements are now generally everywhere due to the ubiquitous video conferencing and any fears of contact have been reduced bit by bit in the last few months. Dealing with technology has become routine. What has proven useful in addition to the standard equipment with a camera and microphone is a document camera for the coach. I can point them on a piece of paper on my desk and share the picture live in the video call. In this way, the coachee can see sketches and notes in real time, for which a flip chart, for example, would otherwise be used. Alternatively, there are powerful drawing programs for the tablet (for example Procreate or Paper 53) with which the same effect can be achieved - provided a tablet with a pen is available.

Online coaching success thanks to good preparation

Of course, more is needed for successful online coaching: Both the coach and the coaching participant need a quiet, pleasant environment and privacy. When the coachee comes to my office, I make sure that both are in place. With the online version, I point this out in the invitation and again at the beginning of the conversation and ask whether my client has everything he needs (drink, undisturbed environment, etc.).
Ideally, the coach and the coaching person already know each other personally before they go into the first online coaching. The last few months have shown that it also works if you “only” get to know each other online. Then you should take the time to do just that: to get to know each other so that a relationship and the necessary trust can be built.

What is lost online

In my opinion, this is where the weakness of online coaching actually lies. Although the visual channel is basically there, the image section limits perception. We only see the head and, if things are going well, part of the upper body of the person opposite. The perception of moods and ultimately of resonance is more difficult online. They are inadequately transmitted from screen to screen, even with good picture and sound quality. Noticing changes in facial expressions or body language requires increased vigilance. Missing information has to be calculated by the brain. As a result, there is a greater effort on both sides by asking for and clarifying interpretations. All of this costs energy - both for the coachee and the coach.

Last but not least, the methodological variety with which I can work as a coach is limited. The haptic, the tangible is missing: for example, when pacing a timeline, moving in space for a change of perspective or with a systemic constellation. Of course, as a coach, I can also draw simulations of these exercises on the computer. However, they then develop a cognitive effect rather than the desired emotional, because experienced, effect.

Online or presence - or both?

Online coaching is a great opportunity that I wouldn't want to miss. It leads to success if I have the technical circumstances under control and adjust my range of methods accordingly.

And does face-to-face coaching still have a right to exist? In any case. The Corona crisis in particular made us feel how much we humans need personal contact. In coaching we want to reach people emotionally. The coachee needs the feeling that the chemistry with the coach is right. All of this works a little better in the same room than online.

Nico Küßner
Trainer, Coach & Head of Personnel Development
Assure Consulting