We all know that coaching is a major player in boosting employee productivity and decreasing burnout—but with an increasingly remote workforce, how can coaching adapt?
Enter virtual coaching. It’s a remote-friendly version of traditional coaching, in which an experienced team member meets with a peer to help them upskill to achieve their career goals.
Virtual coaching, or online coaching, is a digital-first alternative to traditional coaching. We’ve talked at length about coaching in the workplace, but virtual coaching comes with its own major benefits, like increased accessibility and better ways to measure learning outcomes for employees.
Plus, implementing a virtual coaching program at your workplace is an excellent way to future-proof your training and upskilling strategy in 2023 and beyond.
Read on for three of the top benefits of implementing a virtual coaching program at your organization.
Proving learning outcomes is a notoriously difficult challenge for most L&D teams. According to LinkedIn Learning’s 2022 State of Learning Report, only 5% of L&D teams measure the success of their upskilling efforts.
Plus, most organizations use qualitative data to measure program effectiveness. For any kind of coaching scenario, that means both parties have to spend considerable time filling out questionnaires and surveys in order to evaluate their experience.
Because virtual coaching takes place entirely online, it gives coaches the opportunity to collect qualitative and quantitative data at every step in the coaching journey—making it easier to prove your L&D program is worthwhile to important stakeholders.
1. Send your employee a pre-coaching assessment before the relationship begins, to get a sense of their goals and developmental interests.
2. Build a matrix for coaches to fill out during every virtual coaching session.
Standardize this matrix in order to collect feedback on the same topics every single time you meet with an employee. You can use a web form to collect answers to open-ended questions.
Some questions that may be useful for you include:
Using a templated approach like a matrix enables you to measure progress in employee development, help employees build new competencies, or identify resources the employee needs to move forward.
3. Share a follow-up questionnaire with your employees after every virtual session.
Like the coach-focused matrix above, this questionnaire should ask the same questions each time, such as:
Standardizing the process will help tease out trends in data over time.
The main difference between virtual and traditional coaching is that it allows feedback to happen in the natural flow of work. Coaches and employees can log their thoughts and important notes during sessions rather than after the session ends.
Collecting honest, useful feedback from peers is tough, but that feedback can turn into powerful qualitative data to measure coaching wins. Analyze the responses to monitor employee performance and satisfaction.
If an employee is making sustainable progress toward their goals, that’s a sign that the virtual coaching relationship is working for them. On the other hand, stalled or backsliding feedback indicates that an employee needs extra support.
Even more, workers are clearly demonstrating they want better work-life balance: 59% are more likely to choose a company that offers remote work options over a company that doesn’t.
Virtual coaching helps L&D teams keep up with hybrid and remote trends, offering remote coaching options so employees can upskill regardless of their location. And it works whether your office has fully in-person, remote, or hybrid work policies.
This model also fits nicely alongside a mobile learning strategy, where workers can gain access to high-quality learning materials or a training program from their smart devices. Mobile learning, or m-learning, has a proven track record of boosting engagement metrics. That’s because learners want self-paced learning, with access to training when and where it makes sense for them.
Plus, this facilitates more informal “in the moment” coaching by allowing coaching to happen whenever it's needed—even if the conversation happens spontaneously or asynchronously through a digital channel like Slack or a discussion forum.
For example, if an employee is struggling with a task, a coach can proactively reach out by asking, “It sounds like you’re concerned about this topic. Would you like to chat about it?”
Even when virtual coaching is communicated via messaging or discussion threads, the employee can still opt out if they wish. They can also choose whether the coaching takes place in a live virtual meeting, a series of DMs, or any other format.
This kind of informal coaching taps into the growing demand for self-directed learning, handing employees greater control over their own learning path.
Since virtual coaching takes place remotely, it’s best to invest in a comprehensive learning software that enables coaches to build collaborative relationships with their employees online.
Prioritize collaborative tools that create a positive user experience for all participants, and allow coaches to interact with their employees through a variety of channels—all within the same platform. Here are some features to look for:
The most comprehensive LMS platforms also support live chat features and forum discussions. You can also create dedicated spaces for coaches and employees to connect with their respective communities.
This way, both parties can freely connect with their peers to motivate each other, swap ideas, or talk through challenges to form deeper connections. For example: coaches can author collaborative courses, ask for fellow coach feedback, and host professional development sessions or webinars to boost coaching skills. Employees can share their learning experiences with fellow participants.
These features turn traditional or “in-person” coaching on its head, allowing for meaningful and transformative conversations to take place online. Collaborative learning platforms like 360Learning allow L&D teams to fully build, monitor, and optimize world-class virtual coaching services for their remote workforce.
Get a personalized demo to learn how 360Learning enables the digital transformation of your employee coaching program.