The world is changing. Our clients are changing. Technology is developing faster than we can adapt, and with it, a new generation of coaching clients is emerging. A generation that is used to completing everything online. A generation that lives and breathes the following mantra: need – order – get. A flexible workforce who likes to combine work and private life in any place, anywhere, at any time.
Along with this, it’s time to reinvent coaching. It’s time to adapt our coaching
style and technique to fit this new world by addressing the needs of the young and restless, the digital nomads that roam the planet, and the ever fading, no-longer-strict boundaries between office hours and private life.
It’s time for e-Coaching.
This breakthrough in online coaching was introduced in the Netherlands in 2011 by Waringa and Ribbers[i]. Their research was conducted on written coaching. This means that there were no physical nor online (video)meetings between coach and coachee. Both coach and coachee had to work by way of asynchronous communication.
Most of all, they could not act upon visual communicative actions that would otherwise influence a coach's advice and guidance if the client were visible in-person or on a computer screen. This non-verbal information conveys thoughts and frequently buried emotions, and the client's true intent, thereby delivering a full spectrum of information to the coach.
Although many are aware that they must practice better personal care, whether emotionally, spiritually, or physically, they still cannot seem to carve out the time required to attend even scheduled online coaching sessions. e-Coaching provides a flexible coaching option, always available and ready whenever clients need it to be, without the need for pre-scheduling appointments. It allows clients the ability to work around their own schedule and at their own pace. Simply put, they write and respond using a secured communication platform from whatever location they please, and at whatever time suits them best. This allows the client total flexibility and social anonymity; there is no need to get dressed or for them to be embarrassed by trying to maintain a composed persona on the video screen. The client can be their authentic self in their own safe space. What’s more, writing down their thoughts and feelings already triggers them to reflect and process their situation, even before the coach gets involved.
Completing the e-Practitioner Certification program has provided me the opportunity to expand my coaching arsenal to include this fully online approach. It also required that I change the way I looked at coaching. Coaching without visual and verbal information requires a different skill set and mindset. Simply applying your well-known coaching skills in written form will not deliver the desired outcome.
Using a language analysis methodology and a specifically designed coaching model, I can now guide and encourage clients regardless of their geographic location and time zone. This revolutionary and 100% online coaching methodology allows my clients to contact me directly when they have an issue. In turn, I reply with appropriate ways to have them inwardly reflect and then respond. They have unlimited time to absorb and contemplate what's been written, allowing them the time they need to clearly articulate how they would like to respond and enabling them to look back on previous conversations should they choose.
As a result, e-Coaching has wholly transformed my role as an online coach. I have expanded the professional services I offer my clients and have found new opportunities to increase, maintain and sustain good and meaningful coaching work online. Even with limited interpersonal proximity, there is no negative impact on the coaching process because my clients can easily maintain momentum and commitment to the process. Because of the regular intervals of contact – usually a few times per week - the outcome of the coaching process is accelerated. And, based on recent feedback, clients still feel their coaching experience is personal, warm, and gives the perception of nearness. After all, it fits seamlessly within their busy lives and schedules.
As coaches, if we expect to stay relevant, we must broaden our service offerings to address this emerging new generation which is more tech-savvy and more open to the fluidity of online coaching. Now is the perfect time to include this new way of coaching in our current coaching style and adapt to this fresh, recognized method of online coaching. e-Coaching not only enhances the collaboration between online coach and client but adds a new dimension to the skills required of coaches while guiding clients on their journey to their desired goals and objectives.
I think Marjanne Peters, Trainer and Coach at Digitale Bruggenbouwers, sums it up best when she says, “Coaching is a profession, e-Coaching is a specialisation”.
Interested in eCoaching? The next online e-Practitioner Certification program starts September 22!
Click here for more information about the course.
Facilitating the course will be Trainers and Coaches Marjanne Peters-Burgers Msc., and Eskil Elfferich Msc., both specialising in e-Coaching since 2011 and 2013 respectively.
 Ribbers and Waringa: e-Coaching: Theory and Practice for a New Online Approach to Coaching, Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), 2015.