This article was previously published by IACET Accredited Provider Insync Training, LLC and is republished here with permission because IACET deemed it to be a resource that is relevant to IACET stakeholders.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) define coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership”. So coaching is NOT teaching, or advising or telling people what to do, it’s a partnership approach that enables the coachee to identify their own opportunities for improvement.
Perhaps coaching is already part of your organizations’ leadership approach however, according to this article in the Harvard Business Review, “managers tend to think they’re coaching when they’re actually just telling their employees what to do”. It goes on to say that with the right training, training managers can coach their training teams to excellence.
One of the most quoted definitions of coaching comes from Sir John Whitmore, “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”. Therefore, a Virtual Learning Coach unlocks the potential of designers, facilitators and producers to maximize engagement and reach virtual excellence in all learning programs.
Their role is to form a partnership with the individuals in the Instructional Team and work with them to provide opportunities for self-reflection, goal setting and performance development on a continuous basis. The Virtual Learning Coach knows what excellence looks like in the virtual classroom and can unlock the potential within others to achieve that excellence. They do this through observations and conversations, rather than teaching or telling. They work with robust rubrics to assess achievement against set criteria and help the individuals use those same rubrics to identify their own development needs.
Virtual Learning Coaches work with the Instructional Team closely and regularly. They work with Virtual Designers to ensure their programs provide opportunities for engagement and that they include the detail needed by the rest of the instructional team. They work with Virtual Facilitators to ensure they are consistently delivering engaging virtual classrooms that enable learners to achieve the learning objectives. They work with Virtual Producers to ensure they are consistently supporting smooth, engaging virtual classrooms. Virtual Learning Coaches not only ensure all three dimensions of engagement are being consistently met, but they help identify areas for continuous improvement so that no matter how experienced the individual is, there are always opportunities for growth and development.
Virtual Learning Coaches also work with L&D Managers or Quality Teams to set the standard for what great looks like at their organization. Anyone achieving the InSync Virtual Learning Coach designation can use our proprietary rubrics, saving a LOT of time and effort having to create their own. Even with robust rubrics, it’s important to work with others to ensure consistency when interpreting them and to prioritize the competencies in terms of what must be achieved versus what would be nice to achieve, especially with newer members of the team.
One of the other useful roles a Virtual Learning Coach can play is as a consultant to whoever trains your L&D Team. Since the Coach will be the one most familiar with what everyone’s learning intent is, it makes sense for them to work with those responsible for providing development opportunities for them. They’ll be able to identify any common themes and make suggestions about what the designers, facilitators and producers might find most helpful.
There are definitely personal benefits for the coach! There are my favorite.
Alongside the rest of the Instructional Team, Virtual Learning Coaches need to be ready for hybrid learning environments. They will need to understand all the possible configurations of hybrid learning and the impact this change of environment will have on the virtual classroom. They need to be able to coach designers, facilitators and producers on how to engage everyone in a hybrid environment and ensure no one gets left behind.
As the roles of designer, facilitator and producer continue to evolve, so too must the role of a Virtual Learning Coach. They must be willing to continuously develop and work with the executive leadership team to promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement throughout the organization.
With the rise in hybrid working, comes the norm that coaches will work with people they’ve never met in person. This will lead to there being even more of a need to establish strong working relationships early on so that there is emotional engagement between coach and coachee. These relationships will have to be built more intentionally when working remotely to ensure a solid foundation for coaching conversations going forward.
To ensure continuous improvement in virtual content development, support, and delivery, Learning & Development needs a systematic process that monitors quality, and improves individual performance. Virtual Learning Coaches are a critical part of the quality cycle.
To master the role of Virtual Learning Coach, you need to learn to assist members of the training team in creating their own paths to virtual training excellence. Learn what virtual design, facilitation and production excellence is and use proprietary evaluation instruments to assess your team members and help them identify development opportunities. Learn all of this and more by completing our Certified Virtual Learning Coach Series.
Jennifer Lindsay-Finan specializes in live, virtual, and blended learning. She has been in the training field for more than ten years (with eight years in the virtual classroom) and has delivered leadership training programs designed to engage employees, elevate performance, and improve productivity. She has designed and facilitated on-boarding, leadership, and performance management programmes in organisations. She has also designed and facilitated coaching, mentoring, unconscious bias and entrepreneurship training programs for business owners and business support advisors.
Jennifer has a passion for training and enjoys sharing her knowledge with a calm and encouraging approach to help individuals and organizations achieve results. She also enjoys designing blended programmes to incorporate interactive elearning using Articulate Storyline or Rise.
Jennifer’s L&D background includes working with coaches, call centre workers, solicitors and business support organisations. Prior to that, she worked in various administrative roles and held a number of supervisory and managerial positions. She is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with a Certificate in Learning & Development Practice, a member of The Institute of Leadership & Management and also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Business and Management.