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Coaching conversations: Hannah and Jenna

Hannah and Jenna's remote coaching session

In 2016 Mayden moved from a traditional hierarchical structure of management to being a flat-structured organisation. As part of this we introduced a coaching programme.

In this coaching conversations blog series, our team members share their experiences of coaching at Mayden. Today, Jenna and Hannah answer our questions about remote coaching.

Hannah, why did you choose Jenna to be your coach?

Hannah: Mayden had recruited quite a few new members to the business, myself included, and wanted to introduce the coaching programme to them. The company hosted a Coaching Cream Tea, which was a bit like coach speed dating (spending a bit of time with all the coaches and seeing if you gel) but with scones, cream and jam. Jenna and I hit it off pretty quickly over a cuppa. She came across as being more organised than me (which is just what I need), and was a good balance – encouraging but not pushy. Because of our roles in Mayden, Jenna and I very rarely cross paths professionally. I felt I’d be able to be more open with a coach who was completely independent from my daily work.

Jenna works from home, rather than in the office. Was that a concern when you chose her as a coach?

Hannah: Coaching is often very personal and for the coachee can mean tackling some tricky issues. I chose a remote coach partly so that I could work at home on the days I had a session, and could be in my own space. It allows me to get into the right frame of mind.

Jenna: We did have a session once which touched on some personal points that Hannah found quite emotional. She got a little upset, and being remote I couldn’t comfort her very easily – that can be a challenge. One drawback of remote coaching is that you don’t tend to have an opportunity to bump into your coachee and check up on them later that day or week. To combat that, I’ll usually send a Slack message or offer to meet up next time I’m in the office. And that seems to be working fine for us.

Hannah: And I know Jenna will always try to make time for me, even with her busy diary, if I really need to talk or work something through. So I never worry that I’m left completely to my own devices.

Jenna, did you have any concerns about coaching someone who wasn’t in the same room as you?

Jenna: Not really. Knowing I already work from home, I’m used to participating in most work situations remotely – so this wasn’t such a biggie! Before our first session, Hannah and I agreed we would use a Slack video chat for our sessions and this has worked well. I do think it’s important to be able to see each other over video so you can see body language/ facial expressions and pick up on anything unsaid that may be important or needs addressing.

Has it been difficult to create a rapport with one another doing this by video?

Hannah: No. In the spirit of coaching and for it to be as successful as possible, both parties are expected to enter into the pairing being open, honest and prepared to reach goals. We got along well from the start anyway but it certainly did help me to have some ‘ground rules’ about openness, confidentiality and mutual respect.

Jenna: After about three sessions, Hannah did broach the fact that we’d not physically met since the cream tea and said that it would be nice to get to know each other a bit more. So we decided to go off-site for hot chocolate and a less ‘coachy’ chat the next time I was down. We were there for about 3 hours and I missed my train! But it really helped to continue strengthening the relationship.

Are any colleagues within Mayden sceptical of the effectiveness of remote coaching?

Jenna: I’ve never had anyone sceptical about the effectiveness of it but I think that’s probably because everyone knows I’ve always been a home worker. So if it didn’t work, they assume I wouldn’t have trained in it. And I’m very happy to talk about how remote coaching works to anyone who’s considering it in the company.

Hannah: I’ve had a couple of people ask me if remote coaching works for me. Honestly, I didn’t even consider it an issue before the first time someone posed the question. I actually prefer working with a coach in a different location to me – I find it separates my everyday work from coaching and the distractions that can come from being in the same building. I don’t allow myself to get pulled into meetings or conversations about different topics. By Jenna and I taking ourselves off-site, we’re both 100% focussed on the coaching session.

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