Carol Braddick's picture Submitted by Carol Braddick June 6, 2022 - 5:41pm

Based on the IOC Webinar: Tech in Coaching: What Coaches Need to Know, presented by Carol Braddick and moderated by Jeff Hull (watch webinar)

The image above — a complex highway with new options for routes and vehicles - resonated with IoC participants in our April webinar on technology (tech) in coaching. If you didn’t join the webinar, you can catch up by listening to the recording.

We used this image of a busy highway as a representation of changes that affect all stakeholders in coaching: clients, buyers of coaching services, researchers, providers of coach training, coaches and the many tech vendors and platforms active in the coaching market.  

This post is an action planning guide for coaches — whether you joined the webinar or not — for making decisions on — or if — to use tech in coaching. The majority of IOC participants in the webinar described their stance on tech in coaching as curious, ready to learn more and take initial steps such as exploring new tools. Some are already actively using tech. However, in many cases their use involves the familiar videoconferencing options for virtual coaching sessions.  

In considering broader use of tech in coaching, such as tools that prompt clients in between sessions to reflect and practice, or coachbots designed to hold a basic coaching conversation by text or voice, our IOC colleagues raised issues that frequently arise in the coaching community. Namely:

  • Confidentiality; protection and security of the client, coach and organizational data that flow through digital tools;
  • Impact of adding a new coaching “partner”, (e.g., a coachbot or automated client reminders) on the human-to-human coach client relationship);
  • Tools marketed as coaching which are explicitly more directive, e.g., offering specific tips, than most human coaches would consider ethical practice; and
  • Navigating the plethora of vendors, tools and business models.

Our IOC colleagues also questioned whether tech is moving on this highway simply because “it can." Or, do tech providers bring evidence of the efficacy of digital tools in coaching? And how do their tools compare with human coaches working towards similar client outcomes?  

In other words, is this a tech-led sequel to the Wild West of coaching?

As a profession, we are concurrently catching up, responding, building in guardrails. The ICF, for example, has recently started stakeholder consultations on a draft of Artificial Intelligence Coaching Standards which were developed by a team of experienced coaches, coaching tech entrepreneurs and researchers. Organizational buyers of external coaching services are also actively networking to compare tech vendors and digital coaching platforms.   

In the webinar chat and Q&A, a few participants posted their asks for peer recommendations on tools that focus on a particular point in a coaching process, e.g., prompts for practice in between sessions. This networking among trusted IOC colleagues is a prime way to reduce the overwhelm from the plethora of new choices and learn from other coaches.  

Here’s a set of questions to develop your action plan to support your learning about ways to bring the best of your human coaching and tech to the clients and organizations you serve.

Your Action Plan

  • Start with Your Clients and Your Coaching Practice
  • Fill in the blank: I’m most energized / at my best working with ________________ (types of clients) who want to _______________ (clients’ goals) and face challenges / opportunities such as  ____________________ (typical or future challenges / opportunities) and work in settings such as _______________________________ (organization type, size, culture).
  • What will potentially change in the demand for coaching from the groups you identified above? In what they seek from coaching? In how they or their employers buy coaching services? How can you strengthen your coaching offer for these contexts?
  • What are your takeaways about your strengths as a coach from the feedback you’ve had from clients, colleagues and your coach Supervisor? What’s your own sense of where you could add more value and use your strengths even more?
  • Looking across the arc of a coaching engagement/program/cohort, what changes would make your coaching even more valuable to your clients?
  • What changes would help you be both more efficient and high touch, and spend more time coaching?

Start with You

  • My current stance on tech in coaching is
    • Uneasy, skeptical >>> How can you remain cautious while also open to learning more?
    • Curious and keen to learn more >>> Using your responses to the questions about your clients and coaching practice, what types of tools would you prioritize for your learning?  
    • Already running with tech >>> What experiences with tech can you share with colleagues? Other ways you can leverage tech? Are you thinking beyond videoconferencing for virtual coaching?
    • Actually, my stance is more like (add your description of your stance) >>> How can you role model learning and being a novice again?
  • What works well for you when making decisions about investments in your professional development and coaching practice (e.g., a course; a new assessment tool)?
  • What concerns or hopes about tech would you like to raise with your Supervisor?

Start Small

  • Thinking digital overload might already be an issue for some clients? How can you listen for that, especially at the outset of coaching?
  • Some of your clients, as highlighted in the webinar, already have access to digital tools that could be used in coaching.  Which clients might be a good first step for learning about what they already have and how it might support coaching?
  • We’ve all heard a range of points about the digital coaching platforms, i.e., the businesses that scale coaching to thousands of clients. Recognizing you might not have millions from a venture capital firm, what have you heard about these new players that is potentially useful and feasible for you to bring into your practice?    
  • What tech have you used so far?  How has it helped your clients or you?  How could you and your clients use this tech even more or in different ways?
  • Within your coaching network, who can you connect with to explore collaborating on learning more about tech options?

Stay in the Conversation

Whether you were on the webinar or not, have listened to the recording or not, please post your questions and experiences with tech here.  

Let us know how IOC can support our members – and how members can support one another - to learn about ways to bring the best of our human coaching and tech to the clients and organizations we serve.

NB: Image courtesy of Nick Fewings via