Online coaching is now a popular choice for career and personal development. More companies are using computer-based e-learning, and it’s popular because it puts employees in puts them in control of their own development.

I’m finding that this latter point is important; faced with a difficulty at work or a learning need, people can now arrange their own coaching without waiting for their manager’s permission. They can also arrange sessions to suit them, so it doesn’t clash with other demands.

Training budget cuts

For many employers, finding money for learning and development has always been a tricky issue. As cut-backs become the norm, training programmes and even entire training departments have been closing down.

But clever employers are finding a way round the budget dilemma, and they can actually increase the reach and effectiveness of staff training by going online. Busy staff benefit too, because their all-important professional development has become more accessible and convenient. They are more likely to engage in learning if they can do it without having to leave the office.

Silver lining

So, and as so often happens, the cloud of unwanted change brings with it an entirely unexpected silver lining. Online coaching and training reaches more people for much less money, and it set to increase take-up and engagement.

It can be hard to engage busy staff when time out for training simply means an increased workload to catch up later. As a trainer, as business pressures have increased over recent years, I have found that SHORTER workshops can actually be more effective. Online sessions typically last from a few minutes to an hour, and the main focus is the key learning points.

With conventional ‘talk and chalk’ methods, factors like ‘training fatigue’, irrelevant topics, and mandatory but boring policy training have increased general resistance to training. Trainers have often had to break through a few false assumptions and resistance to get attendees’ attention.

So much training has been a waste of money because of the scattergun approach. We have long needed to target individual needs and make learning and development more relevant. E-learning makes that possible.

Moving online

Online coaching avoids the pitfalls of traditional approach. You simply simply book a session with your coach at a time that suits you. You log on a ‘meet’ your coach via Skype, and each session is tailored precisely to your needs and learning goals.

E-learning has the same advantages, but instead of bouncing ideas and discussing aspects of development with your coach, pre-recorded sessions – usually video – can be watched at any time via a computer, tablet or phone.

As well as a proper fit with an individual’s needs, the big bonus with online learning is engagement. People are more likely to commit to a series of one-hour sessions that they can choose, than they are to attend a full day’s off-site training.

E-learning suits many people because they can slot it into their work schedule, and ideas can be remembered and put into practice straight away. So you no longer have to leave the office for time-consuming workshops. Your training topic can be delivered to you right at your desk, or even on your commute.