Virtual coaching circles

During first half of the year I participated in a virtual coaching circle with 5 other coaches from three companies. This was an great learning experience for everyone involved and I hope that other coaches can experience the same

I decided to write this blog post in the hope of enticing other coaching across the globe to share in this experience. Additionally I wouldn't mind finding myself in a coaching circle with other developer/technical coaches.

Some background

Sam and Karen from Growing Agile came up with the idea of running a virtual coaching circle. The plan was to have discussions with the goal of gaining and sharing insights of different coaching related topics.

They invited Sandy and Rachael from Nomad8, and Jacques and I from nReality to the first experimental round.

The format

We ran 90 minutes sessions every two weeks where each session was facilitated by a different coach.

With the exception of the final session which was a retrospective, each coach had the opportunity to pose questions to the group. This was done a week or two in advance of each session in order to give the group enough time to prepare.

90 minutes is not much time, but it was enough to give wach participant the opportunity to present their answers and discuss others' answers.

All sessions were held over Hangouts and we followed this protocol:

  • Voice only. switch off video: this helps keep voice quality high.
  • Add a photo to your Google+ profile. this way we can see your picture when you speak :)
  • Bottom Line. Tell stories but keep them short so that everyone gets a chance to talk. Feel free to ask each other to bottom line (get to the key question) during calls.
  • Talk slowly and clearly. we all have funny accents :)
  • Mute yourself if you're not talking. This helps keep noise to a minimum. (And remember to unmute when you talk - that takes practise!)
  • Dead air is ok. Sometimes we're all thinking, it does take some getting use to though.
  • Make use of IM. Especially if you want to +1 a comment or vote to skip to the next thread/question/topic/person. This will probably be on Slack the next time round

How it went

The previous circle that we ran was themed around running and building your own coaching business. We formed trust within the group very quickly and were surprisingly open with our businesses. This was probably because we were in different countries and cities, and do not work on the same subject matter.

I anticipate that each circle will be different dependant on the types of people involved and their willingness to discuss certain content.

Here is a list of the material we covered:

  • Session 1: Running a coaching, training, and product business (1)
    • Focus on time spent on different activities like marketing, business development, actual work, etc
    • Billable vs non-billable time
    • Roles
  • Session 2: Running a coaching, training, and product business (2)
    • Company size
    • Decision making
    • Ownership, IP and shares
    • Sales protocol (like the Bun Protocol)
    • Contributions and tax
    • Income security
  • Session 3: Selecting clients, kicking off at new clients
    • Selection criteria
    • Which people and roles to start working with
    • Dealing with resistance
    • Selling the need for coaching
  • Session 4: Learning and keeping up to date
    • Deciding what to learn
    • Planning and prioritising learning material
    • Learning techniques for new topics
    • Do coaches need to be specialists or generalists?

What is next

Please send me a mail if you'd like to be invited to the Slack group where we organise the session circles.

I am personally very interested in being a participant in a coaching circle themed around Developer/Technical coaching. So let me know at martin[at]nreality[dot]com if you are keen.

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