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  • Writer's pictureJohn Welsh

10 Ways Technology Is Changing Coaching Now And In The Future

Updated: May 28, 2020

This is the second of a two-part series. Read the first part about the developments in corporates driving the adoption of technology in coaching here.

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash
Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

1. Apps to make coaching easier

A Fitbit or Apple Watch already reminds people to stand up or do a little more exercise. It would not take much for one to trigger shifts in a leader’s behaviour.

Apps, such as PocketConfidant, already allow for “self-coaching anywhere anytime” with “a technology to ask yourself the right questions”.

What about an app to book coaches as easily as TruBe helps you to book a trainer?

2. Videoconferencing rather than, or in addition to, face-to-face

Coaching via Skype is pretty mainstream nowadays, enabling coaching to happen at a distance and, often, at a lower cost.

The coachee and coach can maintain eye contact with each other, as in a face-to-face session, but with the added bonus that each participant can view how the other is seeing them.

Research has demonstrated that coaching is as effective virtually as it is face-to-face.

3. Platform for managing coaching in corporates and SMEs

Coaching has a number of routine processes – from scheduling sessions to tracking goals, from sending invoices to storing coaching notes – that are easy to automate.

“Platforms that enable these processes to happen in an integrated tool or app will become ever more important to reduce operational costs,” says Alex Pascal, whose company CoachLogix already provides these to corporates and SMEs.

“They also provide the tools needed to gauge impact.”

Whether the system is open equally to sponsoring client, coaching client and coach raises issues around data and privacy, but it is not an insurmountable problem.

4. Augmented reality to enrich a session

Imagine the coachee wearing a headset with the coach asking questions either by phone or video.

“It will augment your existing reality. You see and hear the coach but still see Mount Everest,” predicts Sam Isaacson, Grant Thornton’s Head of Coaching Services.

“It adds more senses to the coaching experience.”

 5. Virtual reality for those who find visualisation a problem

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Mindful meditation plays a powerful role in bringing individuals or teams into the moment of a coaching session. How might a virtual reality headset hasten the necessary focus or concentration...

“…particularly for those who say ‘this mindfulness stuff is not for me’?” adds Isaacson.

For the person who needs help…

“...put on a headset and be transported to a beach so they do not need to transport themselves.”

6. Bots asking questions

“When you have a conversation with Google Home or Alexa, it can feel like a conversation. The robot is definitely listening, even interjecting with ums and ahs,” says Isaacson.

As long as the robot’s questions are very targeted, people do not notice it is a machine. It should be possible to train a robot to ask the right questions.

“But at present, it does feel that the robot is just reading off the G.R.O.W-model sheet of paper,” says Isaacson referring to one of the most widely used approaches in a coaching session.

Theoretically, the robot might be better than humans since being judgemental is impossible for a machine.

“In time, the robot might even stick closer to the coaching client’s topic than a human and only ask open questions. Coaches, however good their training or experience, can still let both slip and make a mistake.”

7. Artificial intelligence as your personal coach

Most experts believe machine learning will not equal human learning for another 40 to 70 years. Even before machines are as smart as humans, AI promises to become an important aid in coaching.

“AI could be the biggest mirror of humanity. When we are wrong, we will have no choice but to acknowledge that we are wrong,” says Olivier Malafronte, a coach himself but also the founder and CEO of PocketConfidant, a self-coaching app.

“It can be very difficult for a human to recognize their mistakes in front of another human not just because of ego, but simply because we need time and we need individual dialogue to make sense of it.”

How far will it go?

“Yesterday we had books to help us learn. Tomorrow we'll have a robot to help us practise with what we already know about our world and ourselves.”

8. Platform to help coaches manage their time

But AI will not replace coaches. It will just free them up from routine tasks to focus on qualities that remain human-only.

“Coaches at the beginning of their career have to develop their transformative value. So delegating the simple and repetitive, time-consuming and energy-consuming tasks to technology will help the coaching community develop their value even further,” says Malafronte.

“It will enable coaches to dedicate more time to their ‘coaching personality’ and the unique value they can offer.”

9. Mind reader particularly for teams

“I’d really like technology to help the coach to read the emotions,” says Dr Sally Bonneywell, a coach herself but formerly with GlaxoSmithKline for over 20 years.

“It is what a coach should do anyway but however good you are, you can’t do much when the client is lying to themselves.”

Certainly, such a device would help in coaching teams. There is never enough time for everyone - or not everyone has enough confidence -  to have their say in a straightforward manner.

“An understanding of group and team dynamics, revealing to people what they don’t see.”

 10. Analysis of leadership style through playback

How many leaders record their meetings? If so, the leader could play it back with their coach so that coachee and coach can analyse the leadership style.

“We all carry around in our pockets the highest quality AV device in history - technology that is easy to access – and we do not use it,” points out Isaacson of the mobile phone.

Coaches might feel uncomfortable asking clients to do it. But why? Traditionally coaches record sessions, with their coachees’ permission, that is used in sessions with their supervisors.

Bonneywell wants playback to go even further.

“A situation recognition system – press and pause – stop in a meeting, think and be reminded.”

This post was originally published on on 8th April 2019.

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