… we have seen the extent of the digital transformation of two years in two months
Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft, the quote from 30.4.2020

Digital transformation has been a central topic for several years now. No industry or company has remained unaffected. Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, however, this topic has developed a completely new dynamic. We, consultants and coaches, are no exception. For example, as personal meetings have not been possible for several weeks, training and coaching sessions are now taking place online.

As Coverdale Austria we were well prepared for this:

  • 5 years ago we started to offer all our core topics as e-learning / blended learning
  • Since one year we use the OpenSource – solution BigBlueButton as a video conferencing system for online coaching and training

In this article, I would like to share my experiences from the last few weeks, especially on the topic of online coaching.

As someone who has spent more than 20 years in the IT industry, I have been enthusiastic about the opportunity to conduct training and coaching sessions online ever since I started working as a trainer and coach. In 2010 I already dedicated my master thesis, which was written as part of my coaching training, to online coaching. The knowledge I gained back then is still up to date today. I would like to go into more detail on three points here:

  1. The customer is the focus of attention – not the technology.

One of the most important principles for successful systemic-constructivist coaching is that during the entire process, the coachee and his or her concerns are in focus.

With online coaching, there is always the danger that the coach or coachee is distracted by the technique. For a coach, it is essential to know the tools used.

Another critical point is the setting. Only if the coachee can fully focus on the coaching, it will have its full effect. Sometimes creativity is required here. For example, one of my coachees retreated into the walk-in closet for the coaching session – the only place in the apartment where he was undisturbed. The coaching session was successful.

2. Computer affinity of the coachee is a critical success factor.

Interestingly, I often get the feedback that after some time customers do not notice the difference to a personal session. Once the coachee is in the coaching process, everything else fades into the background.

Someone who is used to working online is usually less distracted by technology or possible technical problems. As a coach, it is important for me to address this point in advance and to give the coachee the time he needs to get used to the setting.

3. Transparency regarding data protection and data security.

Data protection and confidentiality are always an essential topic in coaching – in online settings, these become even more important. Coaching is all about trust. Sensitive, personal issues are often discussed.

As a coach, I see it as my responsibility to ensure that confidentiality is maintained online. For this reason, I do not use public-cloud solutions such as Zoom in online coaching. We prefer to use the open-source solution BigBlueButton, which we run on our servers. This enables us to guarantee maximum data security. It is not only about preventing people from being overheard, but also about the confidentiality of transcripts that are created online during the coaching. My experience is that the coachee highly appreciates an open approach of the coach to the measures concerning data protection – and thus trust to the coach and the setting is created.

In summary, my experiences with online coaching over the last few weeks are incredibly positive. Some coachees have already expressed the wish to focus more on online coaching even after the Corona crisis. There was no situation in which coaching could not take place due to technical problems. I am convinced that the importance of online settings will increase more and more than digitalisation progresses.