How to Coach Remote Employees

By | | HR and Management Tips

“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their full potential.”     Bob Nardelli, CEO, Home Depot

Coaching works. Just ask today’s leaders who have spurred their employees and organizations to bigger and better things by utilizing the fine art of coaching. But with workforces across the nation going virtual, how will that impact the intense, trust-based relationships and challenging conversations that are part and parcel—an essential element—of the coaching process? Will the space and time separating the coach (leadership team) from their players (employees) strike a fatal blow to the coaching process?

It doesn’t have to. Sure, the terms of engagement have shifted. Strategies will probably require a bit of tweaking. But coaching can and should continue to play a significant role in maximizing your employees’ potential. Here’s what coaching in this era of work-from-anywhere should look like:

The virtual door is open

Availability is always crucial in a coaching relationship—an aspect that may have required little thought when only a short jaunt down the hall or a quick elevator ride separated you. Answers to quick questions were easy, with more extended coaching sessions taking just a bit more time to arrange, all because of physical proximity. With that luxury now gone, a more intentional approach will have to be adopted.

Arrange a call schedule. Utilize email as well as text messages because each medium will be better suited to particular situations. Video calls will undoubtedly play a role, on a daily or weekly basis, depending on the time frame that delivers the best coaching model to each situation.

Be upfront about the need to settle into a pattern that works well for both of you. Tweaking will be necessary. A time of adjustment should be expected. The bottom line: employees will need to know you are just as available now as when your physical location was in the same building.

Both ears tuned in

Listening has always been and will always be critical to effective coaching. Despite how chaotic your life may feel right now, professionally and personally, you must engage with your employees via laser-focused listening that shuts out awareness of everything else—listening for thoughts, feelings, opinions, struggles, concerns, and challenges. Don’t forget to be mindful of what’s not being said. We think of coaches telling players what to do, but the best coaching happens when there is more listening and less responding.

Body language in order

Body language speaks volumes when coaching via a video call or occasional in-person meet-up during these work-from-anywhere times. Boredom and disinterest will be easy to spot, as will irritation or frustration. Beware, the facial expressions and postures associated with these emotions can sneak their way into a conversation even when one isn’t feeling particularly bored or frustrated. So, be conscious of the vibe you’re sending and strive for a relaxed yet attentive mindset and posture that demonstrates a visual confirmation of ears tuned in. To make the most of this set-aside time, agree upfront that neither participant will multi-task during the call.

At A.R. Mazzotta, we understand the challenges posed by work-from-anywhere situations. The personal approach that has served our clients and candidates well for over 50 years will continue to make right-fit connections possible during these challenging times. Call or text us today to connect with a real person at 860-347-1626 or apply online.