The rise and opportunity of virtual coaching and its contribution to the coaching industry in today's workplace and society

Bachelor Thesis, 2015

106 Pages, Grade: 1.3








1 Motivation

2 Introduction
2.1 Problem Statement
2.2 Objective Target
2.3 Proceeding

3 Fundamentals and Definitions of Terms
3.1 Definition of and Reasons for Coaching
3.2 Definition and Differentiation Coach & Coachee
3.3 Process of Coaching
3.4 Differentiation between Virtual and Traditional Coaching
3.4.1 Definition Traditional Coaching
3.4.2 Definition Virtual Coaching
3.5 Definition and Differentiation between Asynchronous Coaching & Synchronous
Coaching with Examples of Application
3.6 Definition Online Text-Based Coaching with Examples of Application
3.7 Definition Blended Coaching with Examples of Application

4 Forms Of Virtual Coaching and Areas Of Applications
4.1 Overview Of Current Research
4.2 Telephone Coaching
4.3 Virtual Coaching Programmes
4.3.1 Procedure of the VC Program
4.3.2 Virtual Goal Attainment Coaching
4.3.3 Research Results of VGC
4.3.4 Virtual Transfer Coaching
4.3.5 Discussion, Evaluation and Outlook on the Virtual Coaching Programme
4.4 Application of Virtual Coaching in the Workplace/Performance Management
4.4.1 Virtual Leaders Coaching
4.4.2 The Line Manager in the Role of a Virtual Coach: Requirements and Best Practises
4.4.3 The Line Manager in the Role of a Coach: Virtual Coaching Across Cultures
4.5 Virtual Coaching in the Classroom
4.5.1 Way of Conduction
4.5.2 Outcomes of Virtual Classroom Management
4.5.3 Evaluation of Virtual Coaching in the Classroom compared to Face to Face Lessons
4.6 Avatar Coaching
4.6.1 Description and Background
4.6.2 Areas of Application

5 Benefits and Setbacks of Virtual Coaching
5.1 Benefits of Virtual Coaching
5.1.1 Behavioral and Performance Benefits
5.1.2 Practical benefits
5.1.3 Financial Benefits
5.2 Setbacks of Virtual Coaching

6 Qualitative Data Research
6.1 Methodological Proceeding
6.2 Steps For Conducting an Expert Interview
6.2.1 Content Preparation
6.2.2 Organisational Preparation
6.2.3 Interview Start
6.2.4 Conducting the interview
6.2.5 End of the interview
6.2.6 Leave-Taking
6.2.7 Notes.
6.3 Data Assessment
6.3.1 Methodology of the Data Evaluation
6.3.2 Content Analysis in Summary

7 Conducting of Interviews..81
7.1 Choice and Introduction of Interviewees
7.2 Preparation and Ways of Conduction
7.3 Qualitative Data Analysis
7.3.1 Qualitative Data Analysis Question Number One
7.3.2 Qualitative Data Analysis Question Number Two
7.3.3 Qualitative Data Analysis Question Number Three

8 Summary of Results
8.1 Question Number One
8.2 Question Number Two
8.3 Question Number Three
8.4 Summary of Additional Findings

9 Discussion of Results and Conclusion

10 Outlook on the Future





Diese Arbeit ist sowohl meinen Eltern gewidmet, die mir dieses Studium finanziell und mental ermöglicht haben und mich immer unterstützen, als auch meinen Wegbegleitern während des Studiums.


Mein Dank gilt meinem ehemaligen Arbeitskollegen Marcus der mich zu diesem Thema inspiriert hat. Außerdem danke ich meinen Experten, die ohne Zögern bereitwillig meine Fragen beantwortet haben und durch deren Aussagen und Erfahrungen die Bachelorarbeit einen großen Mehrwert erhalten hat. Ein besonderer Dank gilt meinem Betreuer Claas Triebel und meinen Korrekturlesern, Marina und Eva.

Zu guter Letzt danke ich Vroni die immer für mich da ist und mich motiviert hat sowie allen anderen, die mir Inspiration für die BA gegeben haben.


Fig. 1: Reasons for Coaching: 2006-2015

Fig. 2: Percentage of Coaching Meetings, by delivery method used

Fig. 3: The Impact of Online Coaching

Fig. 4 Example of a text-based VGC coaching

Fig. 5: Results of survey about Importance of the Variables in any kind of Coaching

Fig. 6: Results of survey taken before experiencing VGC

Fig. 7: Results of Perceptions of the internet-based programme

Fig. 8: Influence on client’s attitudes towards various process variables based on their VGC experience

Figure 9: Process Design Virtual Transfer Coaching

Fig. 10: Virtual coaching in the classroom: Coachee with Headset and Pupils

Fig. 11: Virtual coaching in the classroom: Coach at the Computer

Fig. 12: Reported use of evidence-based practices since completion of Virtual Coaching

Fig. 13: Avatar Coaches

Fig. 14: Soldier deciding the next step virtually

Fig. 15: Example of a Virtual World – Soldiers walking

Fig. 16: Awards for Avatar Coaching

Fig. 17: Symbolic Crossroads of Life

Fig. 18: Conversation with others, “Listening to inner voices”

Fig. 19: Avatar-based coaching: Communication between Coach and Coachee

Fig. 20: Avatars for E-Coaching

Fig. 21: Pre- and Post-Use Proficiency Responses

Fig. 22: Perceived Improvements by Focus Area

Fig. 23: Decision Tree for determining e-coaching enrollment

Fig. 24: Virtual Transfer Coaching: Comparison of Cost Training & Blended Coaching

Fig. 25 Planning Model of the Content Analysis

Fig. 26: Complete Planning Model Mayring


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This Bachelor Thesis presents a summary of empirical findings about the opportunities of virtual coaching and its areas of application. Thereby it outlines its contribution to the coaching industry in today's workplace and society. Several fields of usage as well as the aspects important to ensure a successful proceeding, requirements from managers regarding this topic as well as changes virtual coaching brings with it in the educational sector, have been analyzed. Data collected in this paper origin from recent research in the North American and Australian literature and business magazines as well as European sources. Additionally, the research paper contains valuable insights of four experts who are virtual coaches, and therefore adds first-hand current information and experience about the topic and its applications. This qualitative data analysis was done according to Mayring. The first research question investigates whether the substitution of traditional coaching with virtual coaching is possible or not. Secondly, it is examined if virtual coaching adds more value to traditional coaching or is more valuable by itself. Whether or not virtual coaching holds a promising future was analyzed in order to answer the third research question. The findings of the virtual coaching format indicate a promising future as an important part of the coaching process to the coaching industry. They also show that virtual coaching brings huge benefits regarding the cost, time and value efficiency factor. Furthermore, it is a more sustainable and intensive option than traditional coaching. Nevertheless, the complete substitution of traditional coaching should not be reasoned. Virtual coaching brings the world together and offers new opportunities for both coach and coachee in terms of flexibility, freedom, range of options and instant access to the coaching service, which has not been known to this extent in traditional coaching. This relatively new field is yet to emerge and still requires a lot more research in the future.

1 Motivation

Coaching is a very interesting area to work in and the value it brings is getting more and more recognized by companies and society. The impactful effect on single persons and thereby also on groups, organisations and society is remarkable. Virtual coaching takes this to a higher level because of its wider reach to more people and additional possibilities.

The author’s interest in this topic arose due to her study major „Training & Coaching“, her interest to work in the field of coaching as well as working location independently.

The prospect and opportunites of being a virtual coach are appealing because it offers a great way to make a living, helping people and organisations and work from anywhere. It is exciting to live in the digital age where impactful work is possible and the whole world is on offer.

To gain more insight into the world of virtual coaching in general as well as the work of a virtual coach, was the main motivation for this thesis. Additionally an awareness of the differences to traditional coaching was evaluated as an interesting factor to examine.

To begin, an introduction of the field of virtual coaching, its evolution and this thesis is being given:

2 Introduction

The digital evolution and globalisation in the last centuries caused a major shift in the approach to work and ways of working. This includes not only home office and virtual teams but also Cloud Working, Web 2.0, Industry 4.0 and digitalisation of the factory to name a few new models internet has brought into the working world (Cp. at Hirsch- Kreinsen, Jacobsen, & Mayer-Ahuja. 2014, p.5).

In today’s world, it has become common that within one (office) building, people communicate over phone, e-mail and even text messages instead of discussing things personally, how it used to be in earlier times. Nowadays, e-mails are not the only means of communication any longer, despite of its recent evolution at the end of the 90’s. There are several other technical developments making it possible to work together such as video conferences or companies’ own chat rooms. The software Lync for example enables people to chat, video chat or share files and screens. It has brought efficiency, productivity, higher levels of teamwork and collaboration, improved time and cost management and therefore profitability as well as possibilities to make the information of companies more secure if used wisely (Cp. at Duke, 2014).

The growth of virtual organizations and teams has been immense but the field of professional coaching is yet to be discovered, both regarding the face-to-face format as well as the virtual one.

Coaching as a relatively new field which is all about human interaction welcomes the ever-evolving technology to use it in all its forms. The question if traditional coaching can be replaced by virtual coaching is valid and needs research to be answered. This Bachelor Thesis gives answers to this question.

This research paper is written in the English language with some graphics containing German text. Half of the interviews have also been conducted in German but the result of the evaluation is in English.

To keep it simple, the gender in this Bachelor thesis will be in the male form but refers to both men and women.

The need for the research for this thesis is being stated as follows.

2.1 Problem Statement

Coaching is an area, which has just evolved over the last 20 years and is not yet a “protected term” to work with. It is still not acknowledged by everyone, in particular not by those who have not dealt with it much. Therefore, it is not surprising that virtual coaching – which is even more unpopular – still needs time and application to get approval by employees and managers as well as society as a whole. Doubts regarding the effectiveness of virtual communication and the results of virtual coaching – in which no face-to-face contact is involved – can be understood and need research and proof to be eliminated. The new opportunities of technolgy are yet to settle in society and especially older employees who did not grow up with the vast opportunities of the internet find it hard to believe that there are possibilities of making a difference in people’s lives and companies through coaching without seeing the employees or people in person.

In order to answer the three central questions described in the objective target in 1.2 and to find new approaches with the found answers, it is crucial to do extensive research and ask experts, which the author of this thesis has been doing.

2.2 Objective Target

Due to the problem statement, there are three central questions examined in this Bachelor Thesis.

1. Can virtual coaching substitute “Face to Face Coaching”?
2. Does virtual coaching add value to “Face to Face Coaching” or is even more valuable by itself?
3. Does virtual coaching hold a promising future?

The objective target of this bachelor thesis is to gain a deeper insight into the matter of virtual coaching and to get answers to the questions above. To achieve this, different kinds of literature have been examined to present an overview and a vast insight into the topic of virtual coaching and its areas of applications. Additionally, expert interviews show realistic and practical points of view regarding that matter by focusing on the three central questions. In order to achieve the objective target explained in this chapter, the structure of this bachelor thesis has been chosen as explained as follows.

2.3 Proceeding

This work is divided in ten different chapters. After the motivation and this introductory chapter, which aims to provide a framework for this work, the third chapter defines and describes different forms of coaching and leads over to the topic of virtual coaching by differentiating it from traditional coaching. It also explains why the discussed topic is useful for workplace and society. Chapter Three contains an overview about current research, a close insight into Virtual Coaching Programmes followed by the different applications of virtual coaching in the workplace and a brief insight into cross cultural coaching. The scientific status quo is being exemplified. Additionally four expert interviews have been conducted. The questions asked were formulated in order to get answers to the three central questions. The methodology of the qualitative content analysis with expert interviews according to Mayring is described in Chapter Five, the open interview process in Chapter Six and the results are presented in Chapter Seven. In Chapter Eight results are discussed and the facts concluded. Chapter Nine provides an outlook on the further steps.

To begin, important terms are being explained in the following chapter.

3 Fundamentals and Definitions of Terms

3.1 Definition of and Reasons for Coaching

“Coaching is a process in which an individual interacts with another to teach, model and provide feedback on technical, professional, and interpersonal skills and behaviours in a future-focused, constructive way” (Langdon, Whiteside, & McKenna, 1999, p. 221, as cited in Warner, 2012, p.22). According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), coaching is defined as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential” (Sherpa, 2015, p.7).

Business men, often managers and private people, take up coaching when they are at a point in their personal or professional lives when neither their own self reflection and experience nor the advise given by their friends and business partners is sufficient enough to make decisions or solve a problem. They are looking for professional feedback, seek a different perspective and alternative ways to do and accomplish certain things such as self – development in specific aspects, e.g. communication skills or professional orientation. Often, they also simply want to improve their leading behaviour, they are in search for clarity on their goals, are trying to find effective ways to motivate their employees or to strengthen their team and team dynamics. In business and executive coaching, it is applied for change management processes. This is in order to improve productivity and create growth, as an instrument for trust building, for performance reviews and 3.0° feedback, to improve well-being and engagement as well as effectiveness of learning, to increase the return on investment and the impact on business (Cp. at Sherpa, 2015, p. 19). There is a difference between business coaches who are „working to develop client’s knowledge and skills“ and executive coaches who are „working to permanently enhance business behavior“ (Sherpa 2015, p.6).

Personal coaching could revolve around another relationship in business or someone’s personal life. There will be moments of one’s life when people feel they don’t use their potential resources. It is then that they are looking to eliminate inner blockades. These are sometimes easier to identify when being mirrored in a coaching setting with the help of a professional experienced individual. It could also be used as a tool in situations when the client is at a crossroad of life having to make a major decision, which can be in a professional or private context (Cp. this paragraph at Auxell Coaching, 2015, “Warum Coaching?”). In the last years, the main reason to take up coaching was “pro-active leadership development” contrary to “problem- solving” in earlier times as can be seen in Figure One below. The graphic also shows that the usage of coaching has generally gone up. It has become a status symbol to hire an executive coach (Cp. at “The Tenth Annual Executive Coaching Survey”, 2015, p. 15).

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Fig. 1: Reasons for Coaching: 2006-2015. One World. The Tenth Annual Executive Coaching Survey Public Report 2015, 10th Coaching Survey, p.15.

“Coaching’s primary goal is to assist people in improving something that they want to improve upon” (Warner, 2012, p.23). It is characterized as “activity-oriented” and its purpose is to help individuals. It is “an equitable, cooperative collaboration of a process consultant with a client” (Migge, 2005/2007, p.22).

Firstly, it is important to know the meaning and difference between a Coach and a Coachee in the next chapter.

3.2 Definition and Differentiation Coach & Coachee

A coach is someone who gives feedback and opens new perspectives to the client.

Coachee is the English word for “coaching- client”, so the one who is being coached by the coach, which can be an employee, a private person, a manager or other (Cp. this paragraph at Migge, 2007, p.22)

To understand what Coaching is generally, before the topic of virtual coaching is examined, Chapter 3.3 gives an introduction to the process of traditional coaching.

3.3 Process of Coaching

The traditional coaching process starts with a first interaction between client and coach in which an introduction of both parties takes place. Additionally, the organisational aspects of the coaching process, such as length and finances, are then discussed and set. The reason and need for the coaching will be talked about, which will involve the definition and cause of the suffering, the goal of the intended change and the listing of people who are involved. Furthermore, the changes the client will be able to notice when the problem has been resolved, will be formulated. In addition, the issues of availability of necessary resources to complete a coaching process, such as time and money are negotiated. (Cp. this paragraph Heller, 2014, as cited in Schmidt-Tanger, 2004, S. 53-57)

To understand the difference between virtual and traditional coaching, both are being defined first and then differentiated in Chapter 3.4.

3.4 Differentiation between Virtual and Traditional Coaching

3.4.1 Definition Traditional Coaching

In traditional (=Face to Face) coaching settings, the coach and client meet in person on a regular basis such as twice a month or every other week between each session. They sit opposite of each other in a coaching setting and need to travel to one specific place to meet. This involves traveling costs and time. In contrast to virtual coaching, they see each other in person. The coach can pick up visual aspects, gestures, mimics, body movements and possibly sense electromagnetic vibrations, which differentiates it from virtual coaching. Telephone and other media or web – based devices are usually not used for conducting a coaching session but can be offered as an emergency contact channel or in relation to a tool used in the session.

3.4.2 Definition Virtual Coaching

The purpose of virtual coaching is the same as the one of traditional coaching. There are several definitions describing virtual coaching which is also known as E-Coaching, Online Coaching, Distance Coaching, Remote Coaching (Cp. at Geissler, H., Hasenbein, M., Kanatouri, S., Wegener & R. Schmidt, H. 2014, p.165) as well as Internet Coaching and Scalable coaching and more specifically speaking E-mail coaching, Skype Coaching, Video Coaching, Telephone Coaching, Tele Coaching and Phone Coaching (Cp. at Ahrend et al, 2010; Clutterbuck and Hussain, 2010; Lewandowski, 2000 as cited in Filsinger, 2014, p. 194).

This Bachelor Thesis will mainly use the term “Virtual Coaching” which includes all other mentioned definitions.

One example of a definition by CLUTTERBUCK (2010) as cited in GEISSLER ET AL (2014, p.166) sums it up as “A developmental relationship, which is mediated through e-mail and may be supplemented by other media”.

Characterizations of modalities are audio and video communication, synchronous text –based communication such as chatting, and asynchronous text – based communication such as e – mailing (Cp. at Geissler et al, 2014, p.166). Three types of e-coaching tools are suggested: text- based, pre-prepared pictures, videos and audio-documents and virtual reality platforms.

Another characteristic of virtual coaching is “that the feedback or coaching is provided immediately in real time online” (Rock M.L & Greensboro C. & Schoenfeld, N. Zigmond, N. & Gable, R. A. & Gregg, M. & Ploessl, D.M., 2013, p.16) as well as that it is

“a highly accessible, practical, and interactive one-on-one development process between coach and participant that provides continuity for learning, change and growth at any time and from any place, via telephone, fax, or e-mail, which increases the possibility that you can fit development into your work life” (Hakim, C., 2000, p.42).

HAKIM emphasizes that virtual coaching “can guide and support you in your quest to identify thoughts and patterns – and acquire behaviours – that can liberate you to perform at your peak.” But he reminds that the effectiveness of FtFC should not be diminished (Cp. at Hakim, C., 2000, p.43).

There are different forms of virtual coaching which are being explains as follows:

3.5 Definition and Differentiation between Asynchronous Coaching & Synchronous Coaching with Examples of Application

As mentioned above, asynchronous coaching is communication with delay in time. The second party will respond at a later time to things such e-mails or the coachee will do online tests at an earlier time than the coach will be looking at the answers. On the contrary, synchronous coaching is a form of communication conducted at the same time. This can be chatting, talking on the phone, video coaching etc. As someone would imagine coaching, most of the times virtual coaching will be synchronous, for example communication via Skype (Cp. this paragraph at Filsinger, 2014, p.194).

Interviewee Two has experience in using the method of asynchronous coaching in a chat platform for coaching and evaluates it as a very useful tool to be able to track past conversations, thereby being able to connect the dots and find a central theme for the problem of the client without the need to talk to him or see him through a camera (or in real) (Appendix, Interview 2, p.107-108).

It also brings responsibility to the client, as he has to log in daily to answer questions the coach sends him and to reflect and think thoroughly before answering them. As a result, he does not only rely on the coach, which can sometimes be the case in synchronous communication (Cp. at Geissler, 2011, p.45).

The next chapter describes the online text-based coaching with its areas of application.

3.6 Definition Online Text-Based Coaching with Examples of Application

Characteristics of text-based communication are non-verbalism, usage of media such as instant messaging, e-mail, blogs, synchronous as well as asynchronous media. A few examples in the application of online text-based coaching are the act of sharing files online, exchanging screenshots and using tools such as electronic white boards and other methods for online collaboration. These tools are cost-effective, easy to use and provide confidentiality (Cp. at Geissler et al, 2014, p.168). Expert Two describes a few of these tools in his interview and confirms their usability and effectiveness (cp. at Appendix, Interview 2, p. 107-108).

3.7 Definition Blended Coaching with Examples of Application

Blended Coaching is the usage of these e-coaching tools in face-to-face communication or the combination of virtual and FtFC ( Filsinger, 2014, p.194). Interviewee Four, for example, uses this method at times to have an initial meeting in person and afterwards to continue the coaching process via Skype (Appendix, Expert 4, p. ).

To begin to further investigate the topic of virtual coaching and its areas of application, an insight into research being carried out already, is given.

4 Forms Of Virtual Coaching and Areas Of Applications

4.1 Overview Of Current Research

According to the seventh Sherpa Coaching Survey (Sherpa 2012, as cited in Geissler et al. 2014) less than half of coaching (41%) has been executed face-to-face while 31% took place via telephone, half of which with the aid of Skype, e-mail and webcams (Cp. at Geissler et al., 2014, p. 165).

Comparing countries, the ICF Global Coaching Study (2012) states that North America favours telephone coaching above other methods, while just 9% of Western European coaches use this method (ICF 2012 as cited in Geissler et al., 2014, p.165). The fact that the usage of telephone was the most common was confirmed by other research (Cp. at Berry, 2005; Grant & Zackon, 2004; Poepsel, 2011 as cited in Geissler et al 2014, p.166).

On the contrary, latest research has a different finding: The 10th Sherpa Coaching Study (2015) stresses that almost 100% of both clients and coaches prefer the “face-to-face” methods above all others. It also states, that a personal meeting is still common, at least once in the coaching process. Nevertheless, video conferencing replaces more and more personal meetings, the latter being allocated at only 40% with a continous decline ( Sherpa Coaching Survey, 2015, p. 26).

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Fig. 2: „Percentage of Coaching Meetings, by delivery method used“ Sherpa Coaching Survey (2015) p.26

The graphic shows that – contrary to other research – the usage of telephone, as a method for coaching, has fallen by 19 %. At the same time, the usage of internet video has risen by the same amount than telephone has gone down, 19 %. Additionally, FtFC dropped from 2008 until 2015 equally to the rise of HD Video (6%). HR professionals, executive coaches and business coaches confirm those numbers. They predict a rise in high definition cameras as they will become cheaper and easier to access (Cp. this paragraph at Sherpa, 2015, p. 27).

To sum up, coaching through modern media is a “growing phenomenon” (Cp. at Grant & Zackon, 2004; ICF, 2007 as cited in Geissler et al 2014, p.165). The prediction is that it will be used even more often in the future (Cp. at Frazee, 2008 as cited in Geissler et al, 2014, p.165). According to GHODS (2009) there is a “proven efficacy in the coaching intervention” (as cited in Geissler et al 2014, p.166).

Not much research has been done on online text-based coaching. POEPSEL (2011, as cited in Geissler et al., 2014) conducted a quantitative survey on 42 participants who were doing an online coaching programme for eight weeks restricted to only asynchronous online message boards and coaching exercises in a structured manner. As a result, the goal attainment and well– being increased through this programme (Cp. at Poepsel, 2011, as cited in Geissler et al, 2014, p.168).

Looking at research for virtual coaching compared to FtFC in companies “for virtual coaching the working alliance was predictive of the degree of change achieved through the coaching” (Berry, 2005 as cited in Filsinger, 2014, p.195) – in contrary to FtFC. It is not relevant for the change through coaching whether the coach is experienced and how many coaching sessions are being conducted (Cp. at Filsinger, 2014, p.195). To conclude, the relationship quality between the coach and coachee/virtual teams is, with a high probability, much more important for higher performance than the factors mentioned above (Cp. at Caulat, 2012 as cited in Filsinger, 2014, p. 195). In his PhD thesis, GHODS (2009) also found that the development of a strong relationship between the coach and the client has positive coaching outcomes. This was supported by the researched client satisfaction of virtual coaching with the condition of a good client-coach relationship. The possibility of building this relationship despite of the physical distance has also been emphasized ( Ghods, 2009, as cited in Filsinger, 2014, p.195).

However, it is necessary to confirm these study results by another tool developed specifically for coaching and not for counselling relationship as done in this study (Cp. at Ghods, 2009, as cited in Filsinger, 2014, p. 195).

FILSINGER (2014) emphasizes that the virtual maturity of organization implies the height of quality of the technical resources available for the coaching and also how good the virtual working skills of the employees and managers are (p.195). Furthermore, the degree to which an individual is competent in the virtual world is impactful on virtual coaching (Cp. at Wang and Haggerty, 2011, as cited in Filsinger, 2014, p.195).

Another fact the survey found, was that for the first time, in 2012, Face to Face Coaching decreased and video and webcam coaching increased, the latter being allocated 19% of all coaching methods indicating a replacement of traditional methods (Cp. at Sherpa Coaching, 2013 as cited in Filsinger, 2014, p. 195).

According to a survey with 300 participants from Europe and the U.S., it has been found that almost everyone (97,9%) agreed that e-coaching content is easy to understand and clear. 85,3% said that E-Coaching taught them something they did not already know while 13,3% remained in this aspect as seen in Figure Three. 76,2 % said it would help them handle a work- related situation successfully while less than 1% negated this fact. The remaining almost 23,1 % were neutral as shown in Figure Three (Cp. at E-Coach Association Inc. as cited in Ahrend et al, 2010, p.46).

To conclude, Virtual Coaching has a strong impact and value. The following graphic shows the result of the survey.

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Fig. 3: The Impact of Online Coaching. Ahrend, G., Diam F., Webber P.G., Virtual Coaching: Using Technology to Boost Performance, p.46Chief Learning Officer • July 2010 •,Original Source. E-Coach Associates Inc.

To begin with the introduction of specific virtual coaching methods, telephone coaching is being described as follows.

4.2 Telephone Coaching

When doing telephone coaching, the coach and coachee can be in different locations while the coaching is being conducted. They are also able to choose if they want to do it from the comfort of their home, their office, even the beach or their garden or from any other place they choose from. “…Clients have previously shared things like affairs or fears or things they would have not otherwise shared just because they were in a space where they could easily relax and they were safe in their own home so I think that plays a big, big role…” is what Expert Three, successful social and behavioural change coach and one of the interviewees says about location independent coaching without visual cues (Cp. at Expert Three , 2015, Interview 3, see appendix No. Two, p.120-121).

Telephone coaching adds depth to the coaching process because the coachee has the possibility to fully focus on sensing and expressing his feelings rather than being distracted by visual external factors or worries about his own appearance visually and personally. Furthermore it is cheaper than FtFC because there is no travel time and expenses involved (Cp. at Frazee, 2008 as cited in Geissler et al, 2014).

According to research, telephone coaching is “comparable, if not more powerful than Face to Face Coaching” (Berry, 2005 & McLaughlin, 2013 as cited in Geissler et al, 2014, p. 167).

Expert Three absolutely agrees with this statement as she consciously coaches exclusively via phone or Skype without video as it allows the coachee to open up without being too vulnerable because the coach and coachee have never seen each other. Additionally it takes away visual cues and other kinds of distractions. “ …I don’t do video work either because I think it is too distracting for myself and the client to be seen themselves all the time. It does not create the same sort of space and safety than working just with the voice, but it can sometimes be difficult…“ (Cp. at Interview Three, 2015, E3, Appendix No. 2, p.120).

Interviewee Two confirms this statement as he is also experienced with this kind of coaching. He is of the opinion that some clients prefer the non-visual coaching. It also helps the coach when the client opens up more, due to the anonymity (Cp. E2, 2015, Interview 2, Appendix 2, p.107-108).

Another quantitative survey with 152 clients and their observers proved correlation between client satisfaction, coach-client satisfaction and positive coaching outcome. Furthermore, the client satisfaction lasted six months after completing a telephone coaching programme which shows the immense sustainability of this sort of coaching (Cp. the last two sentences at Ghods, 2009, as cited in Geissler et al., p.167).

Nevertheless, there are different findings in research discussing whether the relationship between the client and coach can be maintained over the phone to the same degree as in person. According to GHODS (2009), it is possible to keep up the bond over the phone whereas CHARBONNEAU (2002) disagrees with this statement by saying that especially looking at the reasons why someone consults a coach are very sensitive (as cited in Geissler et al, 2014, p.167). His research suggests that a first meeting must be conducted in person to facilitate a relationship between the coach and the client (Cp. at Charbonneau, 2002, as cited in Geissler et al, 2014, p. 167). Another study by FRAZEE (2008) found this finding to be true but factors such as increased communication and availability due to technology should be taken into consideration as added value compared to “just” face-to-face meetings (as cited in Geissler et al, 2014, p.167).

The interviews being conducted are in alignment with these research results. All of the interviewees confirmed that it is possible to conduct the same coaching via phone instead of face- to-face but some of them confirm that an initial meeting is helpful (Cp. Interviews 1-4, Appendix).

The following chapter introduces the first virtual coaching programme, which can be done online.

4.3 Virtual Coaching Programmes

Prof. Dr. Harald Geissler, is the developer of Virtual Coaching, short VC (Cp. at Geissler, 2015, Virtual Coaching) and Robert Griffith who founded CoachMaster ( in 2012. The programme designed by Geissler will be examined in this thesis as follows:

The virtual coaching programme combines the advantages of telephone coaching with internet-based written text. The development of coaching programmes is useful because of the room it leaves for the process, which differentiates them from other training programmes. The written text online can be combined with the openness of telephone coaching.

The VC programme consists of nine modules:

1. Virtual Self Coaching
2. Virtual Transfer Coaching
3. Virtual Goal – Attainment Coaching
4. Virtual Leadership Coaching
5. Virtual Decision-Making Coaching
6. Virtual Employee Coaching
7. Virtual Consultant and Sales Coaching
8. Virtual Problem-Solving Coaching
9. Virtual Coaching-Supervision

(Geissler, 2015).

Virtual Self Coaching aims to improve the questioning technique, the goal of Virtual Transfer Coaching is to improve the sustainability of behaviour-oriented trainings whereas Virtual Goal Attainment coaching helps to get clear about goals and to achieve them more effectively. To help managers identify and implement their activities, Virtual Leadership Coaching is the way to go. Virtual Decision – Making Coaching helps the client to choose between two alternatives for a decision. The Virtual Employee Coaching aims to improve the employee’s organisational skills whereas the “Virtual Consultant and Sales Coaching” intensifies customer connectivity and aims to increase the success of the company. The Virtual Problem – Solving Coaching helps to “solve tough problems” and lastly the Virtual – Coaching – Supervision assures the quality for coaches and supervisors (Cp. this paragraph at Geissler, 2011, p.45 and Geissler, 2015, Virtual Coaching).

The modules Virtual Goal Attainment Coaching and Virtual Transfer Coaching will be described in detail in 4.3.2 and 4.3.4 after an overview of the procedure of the VC program.

4.3.1 Procedure of the VC Program

To see what the client needs, it is advisable to conduct the initial meeting face-to-face followed by a session of telephone coaching. In this first meeting, the structure and topic is set which gives the client a sense of certainty. Afterwards, he is required to answer every question asked as part of the virtual coaching program in written text online, which helps him coach himself and increases his commitment. Another reason for the internet-based questions is that the client has to answer questions alone to prepare for the next telephone coaching. The coach can read those answers (which was agreed on before) prior to the telephone coaching and by doing so also prepare for it. This makes the conversations on the phone shorter and more effective (Cp. this paragraph at Geissler, 2011, p.44-46).

GEISSLER suggests to use the process of writing down one’s thoughts as a tool for self- coaching. This method does not get used very often unlike the psychosocial counselling – despite of its anonymous character as well as its cost efficient factor. Even though the benefit of this method is much higher than the time spent and mental effort put in the process of writing, it is yet to be incorporated in the coaching sessions. GEISSLER sees this as a problem due to marketing: There is more money earned with FtFC. Furthermore, the client feels overwhelmed looking at virtual coaching formats because they suggest conveying one’s feelings via written text and fail to see that this is exactly what would help them. Following this concept, VC has been developed. It is suitable for different needs and consists of coaching questions fitting each specific need and thereby presenting a huge benefit (Cp.this paragraph at Geissler, 2011, p.44-46).

To begin, Virtual Goal Attainment Coaching is being explained.

4.3.2 Virtual Goal Attainment Coaching

Both the virtual coaching programmes introduced here, follow the concepts of behaviourism (Cp. at Eldridge & Dembkowski, 2013 as cited in Geissler et al, 2014) and cognitive behaviourism (Cp. at Palmer & Williams, 2013, as cited in Geissler et al, 2014) as well as the double-loop learning theory (Cp. at Argrys & Schon, 1978 as cited in Geissler et al, 2014). Behaviorism is defined as follows: “A behaviour can be explained without the need to consider internal mental states or consciousness” (, 2015).

The double-loop learning theory refers to beliefs, goals and values being re-evaluated and reframed in a sophisticated manner (Cp. at AFS Intercultural Programs Inc., 2012).

Identifying the specific coaching goal (“result goal”) and a learning goal are the first steps in the initial coaching session according to behaviourist viewpoint in virtual goal attainment coaching. Both goals have to be described very precisely to ensure recognition of little steps to success. It is crucial that the client conducts self – observation and – evaluation of his thoughts and actions (Cp. at Geissler, 2015, p. 169).

Unlike in FtFC, in which the coach is expected to deliver, here the coachee is challenged to make time and put effort in his coaching project. This makes it more effective and sustainable (Cp. at Geissler, 2014 et al, p.168).

The process of Virtual Goal Attainment Coaching (VGC) is divided into two modules: In the first module planning, prioritizing and clarifying the goal and the steps to achieve it over a period of a few weeks are the key characteristics. The first module contains one hour of additional telephone coaching. Part two is all about the implementation and checking thoroughly on the progression. Here, a 30 – minute long telephone coaching is offered as well (Cp. this paragraph at Geissler, 2014 et al, p. 169).

This procedure is repeated until the target is reached.

The following graphic shows an overview of VGC. It describes the goals, values and interests on the top left and the analysation and evaluation of them on the top right. On the bottom left, the circumstances are being described and on the bottom right evaluated.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 4 Example of a text-based VGC Coaching, Geissler, 2015. Der Bearbeitungsprozess. Online: ( 19/03/2015

The following chapter sums up the findings of research conducted on VGC

4.3.3 Research Results of VGC

The survey examined by GEISSLER, HASENBEIN, KANATOURI AND WEGENER (2014), had a focus on VGC looking at three measuring dimensions: structure, process and outcome quality.

The structure quality gives information about the coaching conditions and resources (human, spatial, material as well as technological ones such as telephone and internet) and is considered as very important. Questions discussed in the survey were the way internet-based coaching programmes are evaluated by the clients as well as the evaluation of the audio- and non-existing visual contact between coach and client.

The process dimension refers to the coach – client relationship, just to name one example. The outcome dimension measures the satisfaction of the client and the achieved success (goal attainment) (Cp. at Geissler et al, 2014, p. 172).

“Coaching activities which are necessary to achieve a certain goal” are described for process quality. The relationship with the interaction and intervention between coach and client is a factor for the quality of the coaching process. The client’s expectations are equally important as a measuring factor as well as the “experienced quality of coaching after participating in VGC” (Geissler et al, 2014, p.172).

This involves not only the whole process but each session and evaluates the satisfaction of the coaching results, the coach-client relationship and the readiness of the clients to suggest this specific coaching style to other people.

The following characteristics have been researched in the study:

- Importance of coaching for clients in terms of process variables, such as building up a trustful relation, talking about psychologically profound aspects, stimulating a constructive self reflection and constructive dealing with emotions, as well as emotional security and tangency?

- Client’s attitude towards virtual coaching in regard to these process variables before the VGC


- Evaluation of these process variables after the experience of VGC

-Development of the goal attainment degree referring to the result goal as well as to the learning a developmental goal over the period of one year

- Development of satisfaction with personal growth regarding the coaching issue over a period of one year after the coaching has ended (Geissler et al, 2014, p.172-173).

The survey found that the VGC is very effective due to the strong structure of the programme. This results from the questions, which have been asked online beforehand.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 5: Results of Survey About Importance of the variables in any kind of coaching. (Geissler et al, 2014, p.177)

Figure Five shows what the participants find important in any kind of coaching, partially specified for virtual coaching.

As Figure Five explains, most of the participants (93%), find a trustful relationship in virtual coaching very or extremely important. All of the coaches want to get stimulated in order to self-reflect constructively and feel emotionally secure in any kind of coaching. It is also extremely or very important for all of the participants to be stimulated constructively with emotions in virtual coaching. 64% find it very important to talk about psychologically profound aspects, and 29% think this is extremely important. For more than one fifth it is not so important to be emotionally touched by any kind of coaching whereas more than half of interviewed persons find it very important and 21% extremely important (Cp. at Fig. Five, Geissler et al, 2014, p.177).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 6: Results of survey taken before experiencing VGC (Geissler et al, 2014, p.179)

Figure Six shows the attitudes of the respondents towards virtual coaching before they experienced the VGC.

93% are very or rather optimistic about being stimulated to constructively self-reflect in virtual coaching. Less than half feel very optimistic about feeling emotionally secure in virtual coaching, but 23% feel rather optimistic about it. More than a fifth felt rather sceptical about this factor and 8% were very sceptical about their level of emotional security in virtual coaching. Only 29% feel very optimistic about the support of constructive stimulation with emotions they experience in virtual coaching but almost 43% were rather optimistic about it. 29% were rather sceptical about this topic. The latter two statements are concerning as everyone rated those as very or extremely important in Figure Two (Cp. Fig. Four, Geissler et al, 2014, p.179).

Almost half of all respondents were sure to be emotionally touched by virtual coaching. Though 38% were rather sceptical, plus 15% who were very sceptical about it, despite of the fact that 78% found it to be very or extremely important to be emotionally touched, looking at Figure Four.

More than half (62%) of the interviewees were rather sceptical regarding psychologically profound aspects in virtual coaching whereas 38% were very or rather optimistic about it. This also shows a discrepancy of what the interviewed people wish for their virtual coaching process compared to the degree of importance they rated in Figure Three where just 7% found it not so important.

Half of the interviewees were very or rather optimistic about the possibility to build a trustful relation in virtual coaching and almost half of them were rather or very sceptical about it which also stands against 93% who wished this would happen (see Figure Three).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 7: Results of perceptions of the internet-based programme (Geissler et al, 2014, p.177)


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The rise and opportunity of virtual coaching and its contribution to the coaching industry in today's workplace and society
University of Applied Management
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Anmerkung der Autorin: Die Bachelorarbeit ist sehr umfangreich und sehr gut benotet. Sie enthält alles außer die Interviews jedoch die Resultate der Interviews. Authors note: This is a very extensive and very well-graded bachelor thesis. The thesis does not include the interviews, however the results of the interviews are mentioned.
Coaching, Virtuelles Coaching, Wirtschaftspsychologie, Virtual Reality, Virtual Coaching, Digitalisierung, Digitalization, Web 4.0, Psychology, Digital Psychology
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Alexandra Zuber (Author), 2015, The rise and opportunity of virtual coaching and its contribution to the coaching industry in today's workplace and society, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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