Coaching no longer just consists of face-to-face meetings.
"There's a huge migration toward phone coaching," says Scott Blanchard, co-founder of Coaching.com, a branch of Ken Blanchard Companies, an Escondido, Calif., learning solutions provider. "Some people really want face-to-face, but it really is not that cost-effective, and a lot of times it's not that convenient for the coach or the client."
The phone allows for last-minute rescheduling if something makes it difficult for the coach or client to attend their regular meeting. Coaches sometimes fly to meet their client, which can be very costly and time-consuming, but phone conversations sidestep these problems.
"You're not always trying to gauge what the other person is thinking, so they can talk freely without reading any body language," says Barbara Walton, an executive coach and president of the International Coach Federation.
"People tend to open up earlier and more often," Blanchard says. "And there's much less of a stigma with just shutting your door and getting on the phone than having a coach show up in your office."
In addition to phone coaching, e-coaching is also making headway. But Blanchard cautions that it is often difficult to have a successful coaching relationship through just e-coaching or phone coaching. A personal relationship must be formed at the beginning, and this often is done best in a face-to-face meeting.
These more technical approaches to coaching are not for everyone. "There is something about generational influences and how savvy people are with electronic media," Walton says. "The younger generation work well on the phone and computer and never have a problem not seeing their coach face to face."
Blanchard says this is why his company has not tried to convert their face-to-face coaches to e-coaches or phone coaches, but instead has hired coaches with a bent toward technology. In this way, clients' varied needs are met by coaches' varied techniques. —H.J.