By Dr. Bethanie Hansen
Faculty Director, School of Arts & Humanities, American Public University
Business coaching during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond requires virtual meetings, an emphasis on individual well-being supported by business proficiencies, and a focus on opportunities while experiencing crisis.
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Traditional business coaching has been conducted predominantly face-to-face with business proficiencies the priority. However, the current crisis prevents traditional business coaching methods and makes individual health and well-being the primary concern.
Professionals in many industries are now working from home for social distancing and reducing the potential for spreading COVID-19. As professionals settle into at-home remote work, routines change, flexibility becomes critical, and well-being is fleeting due to conditions that change daily.
You Can Adapt Your Business Coaching to Meet the Changing Conditions
Fortunately, you can adapt your business coaching to meet the changing conditions while still supporting your clients in their well-being and professional needs. This is accomplished by providing mobile video coaching, focusing on balance and well-being areas first, and introducing a polarities-based approach that results in a return to creativity and innovative thinking.
Crisis and Opportunity Are Concepts Many People Might Consider as Opposites
Polarities are concepts many people might consider as opposites, but which in reality can actually coexist. For example, crisis and opportunity. They seem to oppose one another; yet, while there is urgency and loss during a crisis such as the one we are now experiencing, that same crisis can open new possibilities and opportunities never before considered.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a list of companies that have turned the pandemic crisis into new business opportunities. For example, “Fillip Hord, co-owner of Horderly, said the 30-person company has had more than 300 billable hours canceled in the past four days. Thus, the company has needed to make changes to try to keep the company afloat, including a new virtual organizing service that was created in three days. With so many people stuck at home or working at home, the company may be able to tap the needs of those who want to organize and make more room in their homes.”
Implementing Mobile Video Coaching Assists Business Coaching Clients to Set and Achieve Their Goals
Business coaching is a relationship that assists clients to set and achieve their goals with guidance, accountability, and support. Yet, many coaches are now uncomfortable replacing that personal connection with video platforms. Ultimately, learning to use a video conferencing platform is worth the time and effort. It can provide convenience, scalability, and accessibility that will make the coaching relationships even more convenient for you and your clients.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) offers virtual education resources, virtual chapter events, webinars from various communities of practice, and a video series to help facilitate the shift to virtual coaching.
Any coach can master one or more video conferencing platforms to continue connecting with their clients. Here is a short list of platforms that might easily work for your needs:
If you are uncomfortable meeting by video conference, here are three tips to ease you into this new modality:
- Practice using video on your smartphone or computer to get comfortable looking into the camera.
- Walk through the process of scheduling, opening and closing a meeting in the platform you have selected.
- Have a close friend or peer join you on a practice video call to further increase your familiarity and comfort level before your first virtual meeting with a client.
All video conference providers mentioned in this article offer tutorials and guidance of some kind. Zoom, for example, provides tips and how-to videos to get you up and running. Zoom also provides detailed instructions for integrating with Office 365 and G-Suite to link calendar events to your scheduled meetings. Completing the tutorials and practicing with the platform will help you adjust to working through a video call for the best chance of success.
In These Uncertain Times, Prioritize Balance and Well-Being
In these uncertain times, it is important to address your clients’ well-being and safety before focusing on any professional or organizational priorities. According to a report from McKinsey & Company, “Just a few weeks ago, all of us were living our usual busy lives…. [Now] there is uncertainty about tomorrow; about the health and safety of our families, friends, and loved ones, and about our ability to live the lives we love.”
Uncertainty means that your clients will need support addressing some degree of balance and self-care, as well as any professional areas typical of business coaching like development, skills or career.
There are many resources available to help you support clients who are experiencing anxiety. For example, the ICF provides a list of resources: coaching through the COVID-19 pandemic and “Coaching in Times of Crisis;” also “Feeling Anxiety about Coronavirus? A Psychologist Offers Tops to Stay Clearheaded” by Nina Bai, and an article about relational connection during the coronavirus pandemic.
After you have supported your client with immediate well-being concerns and anxiety, you will be better able to provide business-related coaching in professional areas such as generating creativity for innovative solutions and strategies to help your client grow the business. After all, the chief concern about business coaching is the potential failure to coach in relevant professional areas. So you’ll want to be sure to follow through in these areas after immediate concerns are addressed.
Introduce Polarities to Bring Back Creativity and Innovative Thinking
During a crisis, organizations and coaching clients may naturally scale back their businesses and employees, which can encourage reactive thinking and shutting down creativity and innovation. Polarities can help clients open up in these areas to explore both sides of an issue and focus on complex situations.
Coaching with a polarity mapping tool can assist your client in seeking the benefits of polar ideas while considering how to manage the challenges of each concept in new ways, all the while remaining focused on a higher purpose or goal.
About the Author
Dr. Bethanie Hansen is a Professor and Faculty Director for the School of Arts & Humanities at American Public University and an ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC). She holds an M.S. in Arts & Letters from Southern Oregon University and a D.M.A. in Music Education from Boston University, and has 25 years of experience helping others achieve their goals.
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