Flexibility is so important for effective learning and development. Over the past ten years, we’ve seen a shift towards flexible ways of helping people in organisations become more effective. This shift has been supported by rapid advances in technology: virtual workshops, apps to support development and exploratory e-learning formats are all now the norm in many businesses.
Coaching is no exception. It’s still a major activity in learning and development (the 2015 Henley corporate learning survey1 found that 85% of organisations will use coaching in the coming year) but coaching is changing. No longer is a fixed term activity or a formal event; its days of being exclusively reserved for senior executives are numbered. Instead, as the right technology has become cheaper and more widely available, coaching has become one of the most accessible, flexible and dynamic ways to help a wide range of individuals increase their effectiveness at work.
New methods, same strong relationships
The very nature of coaching makes it flexible and dynamic as a development tool. Although there are different approaches and methodologies, the coaching relationship is at the heart of things. We know that the single most important factor in successful outcomes from executive coaching is the quality of the relationship between coach and client (De Haan et al, 2013)2 . The ideal situation is to preserve this effective, high-quality relationship, while updating the coaching format to suit the changing nature of development in the workplace.
Creating a more flexible approach needn’t compromise the quality of the coaching – far from it. Recent research (Jones et al, 2013) found that neither length of coaching assignment nor the delivery method (face-to-face or blended) had a direct impact on the effectiveness of coaching outcomes.
Smoothly integrated, more accessible
Managers report that they get the vast majority of learning and development done during their working day3. As such, integrating coaching into that time is key: whether via short, focused face-to-face conversations, or by making use of remote technology, such as Skype and VC apps. This aligns coaching with the environment in which most people tend to learn. Importantly, it also makes coaching more accessible to a wider range of people.
During a recent leadership development programme, we provided flexible telephone and video coaching to over 450 leaders across the UK. By virtue of the technologies we used, the programme provided frequent and focused contact with leaders, effectively and cost-efficiently.
Where to start?
For even more flexible workplace learning, we’ve developed iLEAD + Coaching. This one-to-one coaching programme combines state-of-the-art online development tools with real-time coaching from qualified coaching psychologists. It offers focused personal development for hardworking, capable individuals who may not be identified as priorities in the talent pipeline, but have a huge amount to offer their organisation.
The iLEAD + Coaching programme is based on three phases of activity: