Note from the editor: This post is directed at those who coach or mentor their colleagues.
What can a coach do during a global pandemic? Plenty! Now is the time for coaches to step up their efforts and keep coaching relationships strong during this crisis.
The global shutdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 is the most unusual and unpredictable crisis most of us have experienced in our lives. Employees are anxious in general, frightened for themselves and their families, and trying to adapt to working remotely from home. On top of that, many find themselves in the role of teacher to their children who are also at home due to school closures. Stress levels are high, productivity is down, and workers need support more than ever.
Here are my top six tips to put in action now:
- Check-on often. Use an instant messaging tool to say good morning every day or two, just to ask how things are going. Then schedule a 15-minute virtual coffee break every week or two for a more thorough check-in.
- Make it personal. Use webcams for these check-in meetings to better connect by seeing each other and pay attention to facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language.
- Ask for continuing feedback. As their coach, ask for feedback from others they work with on how the person you coach is doing. Find ways to focus on what they are doing well and be encouraging when you relay this feedback to those you coach.
- Find new experiences. Talk about the new experiences from this crisis that are building skills and having a positive impact. For example, one of my colleagues has daily face time with clients via webcam meetings - that could never happen if she had driven to each client’s office. The result is that she is strengthening client relationships more and showing them our firm is with them to help.
- Focus on strength development. Look for ways to help those you coach build on their strengths. Collaborate with other supervisors and managers for work assignments that take advantage of what your coachee does well.
- Address emotional health. This is a huge issue and should not be ignored. As a coach, you are perfectly positioned to acknowledge the effects of the shutdown that we all are feeling. Be ready to mention the help that your organization can offer. For example, does your firm have an Employee Assistance Program? Get the phone number in advance and give it out to those you coach. Many businesses offer a Wellness Program, so find out if that is available. And again, be ready with a link to the company webpage that you send whether or not the employee states they need help.
As coaches, we are in the unique position to support those we coach, not only on a business and career level but also on a personal level. For many, working from home is new, and can be disconcerting. They are dealing with additional pressures and new environments. This is the perfect time to reach out and let those we coach know that they are not forgotten.
Looking to find other ways to support those your coach and mentor in these turbulent times? Check out other posts in Jackie's coaching and mentorship series, and subscribe now to receive notifications when new posts go live.