My lightbulb moment
When I left London and moved to Singapore in 2015 to set up an APAC business, I was faced with a new challenge. In the UK and Europe most of my facilitation and training was face to face and classroom based. My APAC clients were requesting virtual bite-sized learning sessions for their teams who were spread across the region. The cost and time to fly them or me around the region to coach/train proves to be challenging and inefficient. It was also increasingly hard for clients to release people from their desks for 1 or 2 days at a time. So I had to think of a solution and quickly find an effective learning approach for multiple people across various countries.
I started running 1 – 2 hour workshops for clients using a webinar platform and become frustrated at the lack of 2-way interaction, group learning experiences and practical exercises. As a life-long educator, I felt the learning was far from effective.
Finally it looked like we had a solution. We decided to test it with the most difficult thing to teach in a virtual classroom – coaching skills. We piloted a 4-week programme of 2-hour workshops – the equivalent of our 1-day programme. Nobody had heard of Zoom at that time. We were not sure if it will work yet a few willing volunteers joined me. Over the 4 weeks, I observed them learning more effectively than if they had been in the classroom for a day.The cycle of small bites of learning followed by practice in the workplace cemented the learning. At each subsequent workshop they were ready for the next stage of the learning journey and built upon their experience. The outcome was amazing.
However, it wasn’t without its challenges. As a classroom teacher and trainer, I had to get used to being in front of a camera. It was not a natural space for me. I had to find courage to ignore my image on the screen and focus on the individuals in the group. I can’t imagine that now as I look at each day where I am on camera up to 6 hours a day. Zoom has become my new home!
The rest of our journey is history. We quite quickly moved to designing and piloting the full ACC – Level 1 programme and we are just about to start the 11th cohort of this programme, 5 years after we started this journey… on Zoom, of course!
About the Author
Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes. Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.