First a reminder that our core premise is that coaching is a leadership skill. When so much takes place online it is natural to wonder if you can coach by email or app. We think you can. Here are the steps you need to consider to be successful:

1)     What is your objective? Do you want the whole conversation to be online, or do you actually want to move to another platform such as Videocon or Face to face? This question matters because achieving the former means more patience and longer horizons for success; the latter means you might just need to say “we need to talk”.

2)     Make the key points bite-sized. Two or three sentences for each message is probably the maximum, but that is no excuse for being abrupt or brutal, you can’t go straight in and say “that work was disappointing”. You still need to set up your conversation and your purpose.

3)     Put a hook on the end of each message. This won’t work if it is one-way, coaching is always two-way. Messages are easy to ignore, so make sure each one ends with a hook that helps to keep the conversation flowing. Great questions help.

4)     Suggest things they can do before they see you next or before you have your discussion. Ask them to do some research or to read something or to look online.

5)     Always keep it developmental. As a leader you will already know what each individual aspires to be. Show them that you remember their ambitions, hopes and dreams by light-touch references to their personal goals.

Recently, I coached someone on an issue with their boss. The first email set up four steps, spread over four emails. They could only open part 2 when they had completed part 1. And so on. Each email set a different task or question. It took about ten days and then we jumped onto a phone call for just 30 minutes to consolidate the learning. It was super-efficient for us both and got her to the right outcome.