Coaching From a Distance

Posted 26/03/2015

“Remote coaching should be run as a programme with clearly defined roles,.. schedule of meetings, ..and jointly agree deliverables”

Coaching from a distance

How to coach staff in remote countries from a distance

For small geographically focused organisations coaching and training its procurement team and associated staff should be relatively straightforward. The staff are locally based and face-to-face contact can be organised easily. However, in large multi-geographic organisations that need to manage diverse cultural procurement teams located in many different countries, this can be quite a challenging activity to manage if not planned and implemented in a structured fashion.

To run a successful remote coaching programme requires a number of key elements:

1. Programme management
– it should be run as a programme with a well documented schedule of meetings that are rigorously adhered to. It is preferable to align the interactions with any key decision gates or milestones that need to be completed.

2. Clear goals and deliverables – there should be clear goals and deliverables for the coaching programme at an individual level that should also be aligned with the individual’s personal development plan needs.

3. Schedule meetings – it is important to set up an agreed schedule of interface sessions.

  • These should be a practical blend of face to face session, phone or video conference sessions and email communication. It is vital that there is both face-to-face sessions as well as more remote interfaces by phone or email. Without the face-to-face contact it becomes difficult to build up the rapport needed for the coaching to be most effective
  • The important thing is to set up scheduled times to speak or meet preferably at the same time of the day if possible. For example, if I was based in the UK, coaching an individual based in China then due to the time differences I would arrange phone calls early UK time say 07.30 which is 15.30 in China. This then becomes logged in the diary and both parties know what commitments they have within the programme

4. Set the agenda – Agree with the individual a template agenda of the topics you need to cover. For example, if the person was running a category project for the first time the coach may include the following aspects:

  • Update on actions from the previous call, meeting or interface
  • Review of progress against the decision gate criteria with specific reference to completion of relevant templates, models and strategy tools
  • Review current issues and obstacles
  • Agree next steps and critical actions

5. Actual interface sessions
– make sure you use the time as productively as possible:

  • Ensure the necessary preparation work has been completed before the session
  • Use the time to appraise the individual’s efforts and outputs in an objective way
  • Create an open culture of communication with the individual. The feedback as always should first come from the individual followed by the coach’s considered feedback
  • Confirm in writing any agreed actions and follow up activities
  • Be creative with the sessions especially face-to-face. Consider running some role play sessions to re-create a difficult stakeholder or supplier meeting. Ask the individual to rehearse a presentation to management on their project status. This offers the individual the opportunity to demonstrate interpersonal skills and to discuss key issues that they find difficult to handle

6. Progress reviews with management – it is important to report progress of the coaching programme to their manager, if they are not undertaking the coaching. Create a simple one page template that details progress since last report, current issues/challenges and next steps to offer the manager a thumbnail review of the individual’s progress.

In summary, to successfully embed a new strategic sourcing methodology in an organisation requires real passion, conviction and commitment of time and resources from across the organisation. Trying to impose a methodology without this support will lead to under delivery.


Senior procurement professionals and pivotal leaders can really benefit from 1:1 training.

Properly accredited, well designed and supportively delivered coaching for members of the leadership team and senior category and supplier managers is becoming more common.

We are regularly involved in performance-based coaching of high added value staff as well as providing strategic coaching for senior leaders central to procurement transformation.

Find out how Future Purchasing can support your initiatives in procurement transformation, cost reduction, category management and performance learning by contacting us here.

Tagged by topic: Category Management , Learning and Development , Procurement Transformation , SRM

  by Allison Ford-Langstaff

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