Last week I wrote about supporting colleagues to ensure they have a safe and productive experience whilst working on international assignments. Many assignments particularly coaching involve working alone. Working solo is something I enjoy and have probably been a little naïve in appreciating the risks, so based on the approach you often look after others better than yourself.
Here are some of my tips:
• Nearly all risks can be managed, recognising them and mitigating them will leave you free to coach.
• Believing we understand the person or situation because the environment is familiar; may mean we fail to recognise risks – just as when we are coaching remove assumptions
• Appointments – recognise we all need to maximise our days – there are times a client may request such as very early morning or evening being the most convenient to them. Consider having a ‘sense check’ approach before you automatically say yes.
• What is a ‘sense check’, for me this is when I stop what I am doing and consider
1. Is this sensible?
Umm – not sure?
2. What does it mean if I say yes?
2 hour session appointment at 7.30pm means 9.30pm finish, home by 11pm. Will I have the energy after a full day, will the client have the best coaching experience? Other considerations are likely to be the location, transport, safety, etc.
3. Where are the pressure points?
Family, early appointment the next day.
4. Who else is affected?
Family and possibly colleagues.
5. What are the alternatives? Would they work for the client?
Offer options on timings.
• Whilst maintain the excellent relationship with the client
Some more basics to follow:
You should maintaining awareness at all times of their environment and the behaviour of people around you, especially when leaving places on your own and after dark.
You must ensure that someone knows where you are planning to go and when you expect to leave and return back to your office, home or hotel. Inform that person when you have left the venue and when you return to your base. Text or email to say when you arrive and when you leave a location.
You should visit or meet clients in public places (e.g. training venues, coffee shops, etc), unless you know them well. We also advise that you should avoid working alone with a client in a building, again unless you know them well.
Don’t forget the basics – If you are walking alone you should keep to the middle of pavements, walk facing oncoming traffic, and should try to avoid isolated places, especially after dark.
Worth doing – carry a small first-aid kit suitable for treating minor injuries and carry your mobile phone at all times (and other personal safety equipment if this is assessed as necessary).
It is impossible to remove all risks when people are working alone – but by following these approaches risks can be mitigated and minimised, so that coaches, trainers and staff can be confident, effective and productive.
Judith M Barton,
MSc, BA, Chartered FCIPD, MCMI, MInstLM, MIoD, EMCC Member, Coach & Coach Supervisor
Director of Coaching & Mentoring