Whats In It For Me?
Technology in Coaching – Part 5
(By Andrew Barber – CTO at CoachConnector)
“Yes, but what’s in it for me”?
I was drawing to the close of an Enterprise presentation I had been giving to the coaching community of a leading APAC Consultancy and was already dreaming of what beer would go best with the local cuisine. You know that moment, when you are reaching toward the end of a happily successful talk on a subject you know well and about which you can speak with passion. The audience have engaged with interest and a quiet satisfaction has already begun to descend upon the room.
This moment however, had been broken by one of the coaches seated around a large oval table, who was now excitedly waving his arms as he continued to push for an answer;
“I mean, I get that its great for consultancies, I can see that its wonderful for HR departments – but as a coach, what is in it for me”?
In reality, this question is actually at the heart of how technology will evolve within the coaching industry – after all, there is little point in developing tools that actually bring no relevant value. You would no more try to sell a set of spanners to a chef as you would a pair of oven gloves to a coach.
So having posed the question, lets examine more closely what a platform like Coach Connector can do for an individual coach.
It is a commonly held belief that data is safer if you keep it out of the “cloud”. Paper can’t be hacked, a word document is safe when nicely locked up on your computer hard drive, emails are safe and spreadsheets are secure. Well actually not only is all of this completely wrong but also, if you are using any of the above methods to manage your programs, you may find you are actually in breach of the law.
Technically speaking, your clients should know the following:
What personal data is being held with relevance to them
How to review any data relevant to them
How to delete any data relevant to them
How and where that data is being stored
If you are managing your programs on paper or using digital files such as documents or spreadsheets, you are technically not meeting any of the above requirements. Furthermore, there may be added risk:
What if your computer is stolen
What if print outs or paper copies are lost
What if your computer is hacked
What if your backups are hacked
What if your email is hacked
Etc… By now you get the idea …
By their nature, coaching platforms are run via an SSL certificate (which protects data between the server and the users computer). They generally use one way encryption which means that things like passwords are always stored in an encrypted form. The coachee can login to their account and share in their coaching data securely while also being able to see all other information relevant to them. They have the option to there and then, delete their account (and with it the data). There are no paper copies, there is no laptop to steal – in short your programs are managed securely and with compliance to legislation.
To take the above point just that little bit further – I was recently contacted by a Coach that had managed to fry their hard disk drive. All of their CRM records, their programs and their program data was lost in one small puff of smoke and that rather odd smell you get when wire catches fire. The fact is that had they have been using a coaching platform, all of their data would have been protected and this unhappy incident could have been completely avoided.
It is true that they could have backed up their data – but there is another issue here. If you consider that a copy of any file held on your computer is a single point of vulnerability to your programs and their data – if you now house a backup elsewhere, you have actually also doubled that vulnerability.
Whether its in your little black book or stored across a series of digital files, it can be difficult to manage all facets of a coaching practice from multiple locations. Maybe your CRM data is in an Access database, your sessions in your paper diary and your programs in a spreadsheet. Maybe you keep a different Word document for each program – regardless, it can be quite difficult to keep track of, or to manage and when it comes to calculating your accreditation hours, just how many fingers and toes do you have?
Platforms manage all of this information in one place and in a wholly joined up manner. You can view all files, comments, assignments, coaching hours and CRM data from a single point and at a glance give context to data that may previously have seemed disconnected.
If I had a pound for every time a coach told me they “weren’t very good at business development” I would have retired by now and be living in the foot hills of some far off and distant paradise. Business Development can be one of those “where do I even start” questions and even when you push past that, do you really have the time?
Coach Connector provides a powerful means of developing your business based on the very smallest investment of time. By simply keeping a fully updated profile on the platform you can receive invitations from HR departments for coaching assignments or from coaching consultancies for associate positions.
Data around coaching Impact, or if you would like to enter a larger debate, Return on Investment, can allow program sponsors a means of judging just how effective any coaching program has been. Many platforms carry the ability for a program to be measured through various different means of assessment, usually including the Coachee, Line Manager and various other stakeholders.
In addition, some platforms also provide the means for a coach to be graded according to the coachee experience during a program. Both impact measurements and coach ratings can form a means to build new business based on reputation while giving your clients more confidence around making a purchase.
So what is in it for the coach? Well in summary, we could just simply say security, governance, structure, organisation and business development but then that wouldn’t make for a very long or particularly interesting blog. But the fact is that when asking yourself whether it is time (or not) to invest in a coaching platform, you must also consider all of the above and ask, “what if I don’t”? Maybe the Gremlins wont visit your neighborhood, maybe you will never lose your briefcase on the train or misplace that all important notebook … but what if …