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Employee Engagement | 4 minute read

Virtual Coaching Solutions: Setting Up A Mentoring Program

December 22, 2016

Starting a new position can be both daunting and exciting. Onboarding can be especially important when the employee is working virtually and doesn’t get as frequent face-to-face interaction with managers and peers. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, about “3.7 million employees (2.5 percent of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.” With advancements in technology, more employers are using remote work to find the best talent. This is when the importance of a carefully planned mentorship program comes into play for new and seasoned employees working in a virtual environment.

Below, we'll discuss three tips for coaching over long distances.

Build a solid relationship with new hireS

Making a new employee feel like part of the team is vital to keeping them engaged. There are so many new things to learn and get a feel for when starting a new position with a new company. This is where mentoring programs can be such a tremendous opportunity to develop the best employee possible. When someone feels comfortable, they are more willing to ask probing questions and develop their skills. 

It is common knowledge that building strong relationships is a best business practice. Consider matching new hires up with a seasoned employee (not necessarily in their department) who can make themselves available and foster engagement. In this case, being virtual works to your advantage: You can match up employees from anywhere in your organization based on their interests and experiences, instead of putting two people together because they work in the same office.

schedule weekly informal calls to build rapport

People tend to be more comfortable asking questions when they feel at ease with the person they are asking. It is imperative for mentors to make time to chat virtually with the new hire at least once a week. Emails might suffice for some conversations, but try to use calls and video chats as much as possible. Take advantage of all the virtual tools at your fingertips to build a strong rapport: Why not try a virtual coffee break?

Building a relationship is not only beneficial for the new hire, but also for the employer. If the new hire has a great relationship with their mentor, they will most likely acclimate quicker, thus be able to provide suggestions for company improvement.

FOSTER Communication and Encourage questions

At the end of conversations with virtual new hires, mentors should ask questions. Ask them how their day is going. Ask them if there is anything they need from you. Ask them if there is anything they need clarification on. Taking this proactive approach opens up the dialogue between mentor and mentee. When you ask questions, it gives your mentee a gateway to ask questions, which leads to transparency and open communication.

In a virtual environment, you'll have to work a little harder to build rapport. Virtual relationships don't click as quickly as face-to-face ones, as it's more difficult to read facial cues and body language. When you're not sure what someone means, ask follow-up questions so that you fully understand.

Mentoring programs are vital to any company’s growth. Therefore, professional coaching shouldn't only apply to employees located in a physical workplace. It's imperative to include employees working remotely by crafting virtual coaching programs. In doing so, you're enabling employees from any location to thrive professionally as well as become more involved in organizational activities and contributing positively to your company. 

[AT A GLANCE] Learn how to build a workforce culture that fosters learning and  development!

About Elizabeth Dixon

As a sourcing specialist at WilsonHCG, Liz has been recruiting for nearly four years. When taking a break from the busy career of a talent acquisition professional, she enjoys reading, dachshunds and being a novice digital photographer. Liz believes in the power of strong relationships for the betterment of business.