Recently I participated in a debate about the benefits of e-coaching (coaching via email). I argued that in some situations, e-coaching is ideal. Soon after that, I e-coached a Seattle area client about her career decisions. We never met face-to-face or talked via telephone. After some e-coaching, she happily accepted a new job, and she expressed enthusiasm for e-coaching. I, too, thought it was an excellent way to work for me and for this particular client, so I asked her to summarize why she chose e-coaching and what she liked about it.
Here is her reply, published with her permission:
“I love e-coaching for two big reasons. One is that I can go back through our email string and reread what we’ve discussed. Because of that I can remember what we talked about and also go back and see how I characterized certain things at those times. It can be really helpful to go back and reread not only what you wrote, but also what I wrote. The second is that I can do it on my own time. I can write when the mood strikes, or when I’m having a crisis, and get it all down on paper. You always let me know when you’ll respond and you respond when you say you will – so I know what to expect from our exchanges. Also, it feels like I get a lot from the time allotted. An hour seems to provide for a lot of give and take and plenty of feedback to reflect upon. I can see that it might not be for everyone, but I write a lot in my work, and so am good at getting thoughts onto paper. I think that helps make this a good approach for my style. And I might add one more thing…I tend to be a bit of a people-pleaser. In person I find sometimes I end up responding to cues I think I’m getting from others. By email I suspect it’s easier for me to speak my mind and really know it’s coming from me.” – Julie McNalley
From my perspective as a career coach, e-coaching is a highly satisfying way to work. I love the opportunity to reflect deeply on a client’s thoughts and feelings and respond thoughtfully. I also feel that I become acquainted with the client across a wider variety of situations as the client spontaneously writes to me at different times and circumstances encountered in day-to-day life. Of all the ways to provide career coaching, e-coaching is the most flexible. E-coaching works really well for clients who have demanding and/or unpredictable schedules, for situations where clients are unable to reliably travel to a quiet place to talk without interruption, and when the coach and client are located in time zones that make Skype or telephone conversations rather difficult to schedule.
For coaches and clients who like to write, e-coaching is an excellent option. For the right situations, I highly recommend it.