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Distance coaching


Hi Guys, I am looking for anyone's thoughts or advice on distance coaching. By this I mean people from our UK offices being able to coach their newer colleagues who are based in India. Our Indian staff are good at what they do and have learnt lots in the shorter time frames they have had to work to, but sometimes communication and questioning on cases has led to frustration and non-commitment from the staff in the UK when they try to help. I am building a distance coaching course for the UK staff so that they will be able to see what barriers the Indian staff face, how they can answer questions in a development format rather than "you have done it wrong" and to provide better understanding of different cultures and methods of communication. I have previous experience of face to face coaching and have done some research, but most material seems to be more effective face to face , which is not a possibility. I am thinking of including questioning techniques, clear direction and the training cycle into the material but wonder if anyone has any more specific ideas on what to include. Any thoughts on this are gratefully received. Thanks Helen

8 Responses

  1. Cultural awareness

    Hi Helen

    when working with people from the sub Continent, while the words may be the same – the meaning and intent are often very different.

    distance coaching is fine – but it depends what you call coaching.

    If you are talking about ‘skills coaching’ (I know how to do this and I will help you) then your training and development needs to start with the UK team to help them understand the Indian way of working. You should also look at the cultural aspects of ‘face’ in other words the Indians do not like to think they are wrong, so ‘saving face’ needs to be managed in the communications process.

    Hope this helps


  2. just ‘cos….
    Hi Helen
    Just because most coaching “material seems to be more effective face to face” that doesn’t mean that it is NOT effective when “delivered” remotely. I have coached by phone and by email with a number of people who have all reported very considerable success for them, even though we have never actually met.

    If you take note of Mike Morrison’s comments about the cultural aspect and select and train your coaches carefully they can use pretty much standard coaching methodology quite effectively over the ether and the distance.

    I hope this helps

  3. Distance Coaching

    Hi Helen

    I am involved in training Coaches in GlaxoSmithKline and this is an issue which is refequently raised.

    I agree with the comments already made about culture – you may like to look at Hofstede’s work on the four key differentiators but I also think the coaching medium matters i.e. the Coach flexing their style according to whether their Coachee best takes in information visually, auditorily or kinaesthetically which will help the Coach choose appropriate processes.

    You may also want to think about training the Coachees so they have insight into their preferred learning style etc and can share these with their coach as well as building openess to coaching through positioning it as empowering and building on skills rather than remedial and punative !

    Happy to talk off-line  

    Pennie Evans

  4. Asian coach
    As an Indian Life Coach (starting up), I appreciate and recognise the areas you are trying to address.

    I personally think training with questioning style techniques would be most appropriate. I spend several weeks in India each year, and am familiar with communication and interpretation issues.

    I would further suggest an array of questioning style techniques for your colleagues to use. From experience, members of my ethnicity very often idenfity a few phrases they feel they understand, and use these more often, rather than considering other options.

    An additional area which I think may be of benefit, is asking your colleagues how they would like to answer each question, thus ensuring the question is fully understood, encouraging an enhancement of the response.

    I hope this helps in some way.


  5. level of acquaintance with reality

     Dear Helen,

    Start filling the gap in level of acquaintance with reality; this will make them realize the problems you are facing at your end.

    Currently what you face & they do not face. That’s the difference & that’s differentiates.





  6. Distance coaching

    Hi Helen,

    I’d like to add a word in support of distant coaching. When I work one-to-one with someone it is almost exclusively by telephone now, partly because it is convenient for all concerned but also because I find it more powerful. This is contrary to my expectations but I’ve found that the distance and anonymity makes the relationship more effective and clients are more focussed on their thinking than they are in face-to-face situations.
    E-coaching is something else I use and can be very convenient but could add more of a strain on non-native English speakers – we certainly have to spend time being absolutely clear about our understanding of each others words.  I’m just launching an on-line coaching package which is a combination of skills support and coaching as clients are asking for more flexible solutions to learning challlenges so I’ll see how that goes.

    I wish you luck,

     Kate Cobb CommuniKate






  7. Distance Coaching & Relationship Building

    Like other respondents, I use telephone coaching a lot.  I also run teleclasses to support development programmes.  The one thing I would like to add is the importance of developing a relationship of respect and trust at the outset.  Therefore, whatever initiative you put in place, I would strongly recommend some sort of kick-off process which will help the colleagues to know each other, like each other and want to help each other.  It may be that your colleagues in India are given the opportunity to select their own coach from a list – having a trial session to get to know each other.  Alternatively, if this isn’t an option, include something in the coach training that helps the coach to take the lead in building a warm and supportive relationship with potential coachees.

  8. Thanks for the info
    Thanks for all the advice given on here.
    Have already planned to include learning styles and personality styles into the training and am going to use questioning techniques.

    Thanks again


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