Like many people in 2020 much of my work with coaching and supervision clients has been in the virtual medium.
In fact, being in Stage 4 lockdown restrictions in Melbourne Australia has meant that there has been no choice other than the virtual coaching medium.
So what has that meant for my own practice as a coach and coach supervisor and for relationships with my clients?
Overall, I have embraced its many benefits and wondered if other coaches or coach supervisors were having a similar shared experience. I would love to hear from other coaches and coach supervisors about their experience in response to this blog.
Whatever the medium chosen for Coaching or Coach Supervision a fundamental premise is to be “in service” of a Coachee or Supervisee. In the past, before the imposed requirement to work virtually, I mostly asked the client where they would feel comfortable to meet. I want the client to feel safe, comfortable, relaxed and free to engage.
As such I have previously provided services in diverse mediums, spaces and places, including:
- walking side by side through parks or gardens munching on a sandwich;
- being together in an office and drawing on a whiteboard;
- at a restaurant with butchers paper for tablecloths where we could use texta’s to doodle on;
- walking along a sun-drenched beach;
- in a car driving to a regional office of their firm;
- coffees at the client’s favourite haunt, especially in magic Melbourne;
- telephone coaching due to the client’s distant location;
- Skypeing, Facetiming to now Zooming;
- having the first session face to face followed by virtual sessions.
Many of these modes are still face to face with the client, albeit in different situations.
In my early coaching experience, my personal preference was to meet face to face as I believed it was easier to build rapport and trust as a good start and foundation for the relationship. My appreciation for diverse coaching modes has grown over time with experience and working virtually is yet another option.
In 2020 the virtual experience for myself and my clients has revealed some real benefits and enhanced these relationships.
Naturally, some of this has been about the procedural aspects such as ease of accessibility, ability to arrange a meeting quickly and no commuting time involved.
In addition, the technology platform and connections have largely worked without a hitch for both parties however this certainly requires exploration and agreement at the start of the relationship.
With both coach and client increasingly spending time working virtually this has led to greater ease and confidence navigating the virtual medium and a common conversation starter has often been “Where do I find you today?” or chatting about the virtual background they have chosen. The sharing of useful resources has been more instantaneous as well.
However, of most significance is the opportunity to communicate in a generally private and smaller space, often informally in the home environment. The virtual connection has afforded the experience of a little bit more distance for some people and a greater sense of intimacy for others.
The virtual space has empowered the client to have lower inhibitions and feel safe for greater disclosure and also at times the freedom to fully experience more intense emotions. I have found that this has led to the relationship growing in appreciation and understanding and deepening earlier than it may have if it were face to face. This has led to satisfying and inspiring outcomes for the partnership.
Consequently, as a practitioner, I see coaching and supervising virtually continuing to be a great opportunity going forward. The opportunity to connect virtually around the world may also open doors for more people to experience coaching and coaches to experience coach supervision.
So, is virtual coaching or coach supervision better than face to face?
It is interesting to consider returning to face to face client work in a COVID new normal world, whatever that looks like.
Whether we are coaching or supervising I believe flexibility is still the key. The choice should still be at the discretion of the client, that is, what will work best for them and your partnership.
So whichever medium you prefer for your coaching or coach supervision I invite you to www.kaleidoscopeconsulting.com.au to see how we could work together.
Author Lisa Baker
Founder Kaleidoscope Consulting
Executive Coach, Coach Mentor and Coach Supervisor