Grow Your Remote Coaching Business with these 15 Mind-Sets & Practices | by Jennifer Britton MES, CHRP, CPT, PCC

Coach working remotely

The benefits of remote work can be huge. In fact, one of the things I love about being a coach is the virtual or digital nature of our work. In my 2017 book, Effective Virtual Conversations, I explore the benefits of remote working. These range from shorter commutes, to more flex-time for care-taking responsibilities (whether for the young or old) and reducing our environmental footprint.

In my former world of work, it was common to spend over a week per month travelling, touching down in five or six countries. Today, as a coach, it's not uncommon to have done that virtually by lunch time. And while working virtually is not for all coaches, it's likely that you may be working with some clients virtually - never being within touching distance.

Working remotely is getting more attention these days - from publishers like the Harvard Business Review to an increasing number of organizations becoming aware of the multiple benefits of remote work.

And this article explores several of the skills, mindsets and systems to consider when exploring and growing a remote coaching business.

Just like a traditional in-person business, remote businesses thrive on a foundation of solid skills and practices. And in the remote space many things are also magnified. So, in addition to boosting skills in certain areas there are many principles and practices underpinning our work in the virtual and remote space.

Here are 15 Skills, Mindsets and Practices to Grow Your Remote Coaching Business:

1. Get comfortable with the technology you use

Becoming proficient and comfortable with the technologies you use, creates the foundation of your professionalism and remote conversations.

Consider:

  • What is your level of confidence and comfort with the technology?
  • What could you do to increase that level of comfort?

2. Have a process orientation for your conversations

In a virtual conversation there is a dynamic tension between a need for structure, and leaving space for the communication. This is especially true when working virtually - as you don't have all the clues and signals you would have if you were working in person.

Consider:

  • How can you create the space needed for remote conversations?
  • Just as in a coaching conversation, how will you take the time to co-create clarity around the process?
  • How can you co-design expectations with your clients and partners to create safety, and the baseline for a great conversation?

3. Build relationships with people you haven't met in person

Remote work doesn't happen in a vacuum. Relationships are important, and even more so when working remotely. There are fewer opportunities to "chat around the water cooler" and get to know each other over a shared lunch. Make sure you build in time to proactively build relationships.

As a "high touch" profession grounded in trust and connection, our ability to create strong connection across distance is paramount.

Consider:

  • What are you doing to learn more about your clients' needs?
  • How are you showing up? What presence are you bringing?
  • What are you doing so others get to know you - and what you offer?
  • How can you build your relationships in the remote space? For example, could you have a video lunch or coffee break with someone? A regular phone check-in? What else?

4. Grow your intercultural knowledge & global mindset

Remote work is likely to orbit you into many different cultures geographically, and developing intercultural awareness is key. Even if you work across a continent, be aware and tune into the different ways of working, pacing and decision making.

Here's how Dr. Gary Rankin defines Global Mindset: "It is the ability to step outside one's base culture and to understand there is no universally correct way to do things". [1]

Consider:

  • How does this person/organization approach work and make decisions?
  • How can widening your awareness and appreciation of other cultures support your work as a coach?
  • What are you doing to grow your global mindset?

5. Set the stage for ongoing learning

In a remote business, adopting a growth mindset where you're always learning is important. Whether it's a new technology, new feature, new skill, new marketing method or something else - you need to stay current. And this means that ongoing learning is essential to grow a remote coaching business.

Consider:

  • What do I need to learn more about? Make a list!

6. Learn what is 'good enough'

The pace of change in the remote space can be dizzying. It's helpful to learn to be OK with things being 'good enough' and not perfect. In the pursuit of perfection, it's likely that the context will have changed already.

Consider:

  • Where could I go with 'good enough' rather than perfect?

7. Observation - move beyond what you see on the screen

When we work remotely, we see our clients' worlds via the boundaries of their screen or camera. This limits our potential to get to know someone more fully, and can lead to incorrect assumptions.

How can you move beyond the confines of what you see via your screen? For example, some teams intentionally call in from different locations within an office to provide more of a complete picture of what things are like at a remote location.

Consider:

  • What are you noticing?
  • What are you not seeing?
  • What do you need to learn more about or be curious about?

8. Use the skill of questioning

The art of questioning continues to be a backbone of the coaching conversation. Ask questions to explore your clients' and partners' broader context.

Consider:

  • What are the things it would be useful to inquire about?
  • What do you need to bust assumptions around?

9. Use visual anchor points

A picture speaks a thousand words. When working remotely, there are so many pieces and types of information to manage. Images can help us communicate faster and with more depth.

Consider:

  • What are the images and metaphors that will communicate your message quicker and more visually?

10. Less is more

Less is more in the world of the remote worker; we are all so busy these days. Working remotely means dealing with more information and trying to figure out more things alone. so learning to focus on what's really important is essential.

Consider:

  • What are the imperative things to communicate?
  • What needs to be prioritized?

11. Maintain your visibility

Don't let 'out of sight' lead to 'out of mind'. Be proactive in building relationships, communicating and addressing issues. Just as quickly as your world changes, so do your partners. Visibility can take many forms - emails, video calls, instant messages etc.

Consider:

  • How can you maintain visibility with your important partnerships and relationships?

12. Check your assumptions

The coaching skills of observation, asking questions and listening is key in checking our assumptions. We all bring our own experiential and 'cultural lens' to the work we do. So, an important practice of coaches working in the remote space is to examine your biases on a regular basis.

Consider:

  • What's important to note and become curious around?
  • What is your intuition telling you to listen to?
  • What biases do you need to explore for yourself?

13. Make it meaningful - and clear

Engage and connect people to their WIIFM - What's in it for me? Rushing from one call to another all day can leave people wondering, "Who did I speak with?" and "What did we talk about?" Make it a practice to share, summarize and highlight next steps, commitments and accountabilities.

Consider:

  • How can I bring more meaning and purpose to my relationships and meetings?
  • How can I ensure clarity?

14. Follow-through

Trust takes longer to build and is more fragile in the virtual and remote space. Issues can easily get magnified. So be sure to follow through with any commitments you've made. Trust quickly gets eroded when there is no follow-through.

Consider:

  • How can I ensure that I follow through and don't miss deadlines?

15. People are people are people

Finding common ground is key to partnering in the remote space. Many times, if we look, we find that we are more similar than different.

Consider:

  • What goals and values do we share?
  • What can I do to bring attention to our similarities?

Wrap-up

As you reflect on these 15 mind-sets, skills and practices needed for a remote coaching business, ask yourself:

  • Which of these mindsets and practices are important for me to notice in my work, conversations and relationships?
  • Which of these skills are already well developed for you?
  • What are the things you want to become better at?
  • Where could you enhance your skills?

Upcoming Training from Jennifer:

And, if you work with remote professionals, consider joining Jennifer for the 24 CCE PlanDoTrack Facilitator Training, which takes a deeper dive into the tools in this book so you can lead it with your own clients. Learn more and reserve your spot here.

Contributing author: Jennifer Britton is the author of five books including the Coaching Business Builder Workbook and Planner (2018), Effective Group Coaching and From One To Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching. Jennifer provides a wide range of supports for coaches, and other professionals who are working with teams and groups. From 1-1 coaching around signature programs, to the Conversation Sparker Deck, to the 40 Ways to Work with Visual Cards, she's committed to helping coaches create engaging and impactful work with the teams and groups they support, while creating a thriving business. One of the programs which incorporates the best of these tips is the PlanDoTrack Facilitator Training (24 CCEs). Visit her online at Group Coaching Essentials.

[1] https://www.garyranker.com/global-mindset/global-mindset-leadership-what-it-really-means/

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