Time is a precious commodity for the modern executive. With a day likely crammed with meetings, catching up on work activities and requests from clients, there is often little time to allocate to developing your staff.
Nonetheless, a leader's schedule that fails to allocate time for employees' professional growth is not a healthy sign. While it is true that face-to-face coaching sessions are time-consuming and becoming harder to manage with a dispersed workforce spread over various locations and time zones, there are smart ways you can squeeze in some time for your staff.
Ed Batista, renowned author and academic at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, says leaders around the world are using coaching and mentoring as tools for developing high-performing teams that do well despite being located in different places.
If time is an issue, perhaps you should consider virtual coaching as an option.
Here are six ways to make it work:
The coaching conversation is one that requires undivided attention and complete focus. Even though the parties are not meeting face-to-face, location should be a key consideration. Choose a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed for the length of the web conference. Request your employee do the same - privacy should be top priority.
2. Time management
Discussions about personal development often take more time than anticipated. As a coach, it is your job to ensure enough time is allocated to the web conference and that it does not eat into the time of either party's subsequent engagements.
Mr Batista advises using a stopwatch to keep track.
Make sure the equipment and service provider you use are top-notch.
3. The right tools
Make sure the equipment and service provider you use are top-notch. This is an investment that is worth making to ensure you can make the most of the coaching conversation. A seamless discussion not hampered by technological issues and glitches is more likely to yield positive results.
4. Know the cultural framework
For leaders who have teams spread across the globe, understanding cultural sensibilities is a key factor. Virtual coaching mediums need to be tweaked according to the audience.
Academic and author Dr. Ana Maria Reyes says how users prefer to communicate in a remote setting is largely reflective of cultural practices pertaining to face-to-face conversations.
In a report published by the professor, she writes: "Some cultures may prefer written mediums (e.g. Germans); others the human voice (Latin-Americans); some public 'wall-posting' (e.g. millennials); versus private emails (e.g. baby boomers)".
5. Encourage call recording
The purpose of coaching is to help employees realise their hidden potential. Often such discussions have a few eureka moments that may shed light on an employee's blind spots. It may be a wise idea to use call recording to capture these milestones, so they can be revisited later.
Also, listening to coaching calls is a great way for employees to stay motivated.
6. Manage and acknowledge emotions
The coaching conversation may create intense emotions; these can be tricky to handle in a non face-to-face setting. This is true for both parties, so remember to schedule some "buffer time" before your next meeting to process these.
After all is said and done, the effectiveness of mentoring discussions truly depends on the coach and the mentee. It is a labour of love, and one that must be managed with care.