Best Practices for Coaching with SkillGym

SkillGym is a fantastic solution to upgrade leadership coaching strategies and several hundreds of coaches around the world are already benefiting of its A.I. driven features. In this article, I collected some of the most important best practices as told by the best and smartest leadership coaches.
Andrea Laus
SkillGym CEO
9 min read


In another article (“Boosting leadership coaching with Digital Role Play“) I already explored how powerful SkillGym can be when it comes to supporting executive and leadership coaching activity.

We have seen that there are several ways to leverage A.I. for the purpose of upskilling managers on conversation during and in between coaching sessions.


SkillGym is the perfect companion for a coach. It can prove very helpful both during the coaching session to focus on critical conversations and communication skills and to develop those abilities along a much wider practice program between sessions, with the help of boot camps and metrics.

In fact, the growing library of critical conversations allows coaches to choose from several situations to play with; most of them focus perfectly on the key circumstances where most leaders normally struggle and where conversational performance is really critical.


All the coaching tools around the critical conversations are designed for perfect integration into executive coaching strategies.

Thus you can decide to play together, to plan goals, to review performances, to discuss details or even to schedule dedicated follow-up activities after specific self-practice conversations.

I’d like share with you some of the best recommendations that I have gathered from executive coaches around the world who have already mastered integrating SkillGym into their strategies.


What you can do during the session

The most typical approach of coaching with SkillGym is that of playing one critical conversation side by side.

You can discuss the preparation and the strategy before the conversation starts, thus helping the coachee structure the way they warm up. You can watch the coachee while playing the conversation and you can help them reflect on their performance before accessing the simulation feedback and digital KPIs.


You and the coachee can discuss the feedback provided by the simulation, both analyzing the metrics and digging into the Augmented Replay to discuss their position and reinforce the best practices.

You can also discuss their overall performance trend and commitment to specific goals. This gives you the opportunity to go beyond the live session and assign long-term schedules and assignments.


What you can do between two sessions

We all know that mastery requires practice. So, there is nothing better than assigning boot camps in between live sessions and letting the coachee increase their experience in the field on their own.

The coachee will receive email invitations to schedule the meetings on their calendar just like in real life.

They will also receive periodic reminders in order to prepare. They will be free to play the simulations as many times as they want while waiting for the “official” scheduled session, thereby enhancing confidence and preparing for the appointment.

You will be notified of any conversations they play, with the option of reviewing their performance: from the macro figures to the micro details of single behaviors. This allows you to plan your coaching strategy for the next live session.


With SkillGym, you can decide how to blend your strategy of support on critical conversations. Play together, discuss together, define follow-up assignment.

You can leverage the analytical metrics and your tutor board to design paths of development over the course of sessions, weeks and months. You can use the same data to prove your impact along the way.


How you should include SkillGym in your session

The best strategy to leverage SkillGym in a face-to-face coaching session starts with recognizing the importance of critical conversation in coaching activities.
Most of the leader’s performance goes through conversations, so it is very important to dedicate time to this topic.

There is nothing like practicing; practicing together is even more powerful, because it gives a sense of urgency and importance to this key task.

So, the best call to action and the best way to leverage your advice is by playing and discussing together.


The selection of the conversation should come from a joint analysis of the gaps, the needs, the organization and the confidence of the leader. But don’t forget to cover the basics.

Too often leaders tend to show off confidence on what they think they are expected to be confident in and ultimately, they are not or at least not enough.


Playing the simulation together – your role

Defining the reciprocal roles is paramount. It’s a simulation, of course, but it should progress like it would in real life.

So, your role is that of the coach even with SkillGym.

First guide the coachee to prepare for the meeting: There is no point in starting a conversation immediately when preparation is an essential part of the exercise.

Watch what the leader chooses to do and advise on what should not be underestimated.

Let the coachees make mistakes during the conversation.

Observe their attitudes and emotions and make notes about points that you may want to discuss later on.


Review the simulation together (or a past simulation) – what to look at, what to do, what to ask

Once the simulation is over, do not jump immediately to the feedback. Ask them to go to the self-evaluation that will feed the awareness measurement.

And then spend time together discussing what they think the result was and why.


This will help to reinforce the importance of self-awareness. The self-evaluation step is very helpful at this stage and is also where the Awareness KPI of SkillGym plays a great role. It will help you show in numbers the importance of a humble approach to the task.

You have several tools available to discuss the outcome of the simulation together: the emotional feedback, the macro metrics and the Augmented Replay.


It’s preferable to go directly to the weak points and to have your coachees tell you what needs to be reviewed with you. Don’t forget to add your personal touch as you were observing the session like it was a real critical conversation.

You may also want to discuss a past conversation or even a conversation played by someone else (no privacy is disclosed) to highlight specific paths or specific best/worst practices.


Plan remote sessions in advance as a key part of your integrated formula

SkillGym gives you the opportunity to set up training boot camps by easily assigning critical conversation sessions to be scheduled on your coachee’s calendar.

Start with the end in mind: assignments in between sessions should become your winning format. Critical conversation mastery comes from practice and live sessions are too short to cover a proper practice schedule. Share the need for dedicated boot camps and explain the advantages.


Create boot camps personalized to the individual needs and start with assessment.
This will help to stay on track later on and provide sounding metrics to celebrate the effort.

Be ready for PULL sessions: Encourage them to ask for your help when needed. Coaching on demand is the future and it will also help you to scale up your business.


Prepare for the coaching session: Check the user trend in engagement and results; analyze one conversation and highlight the key point

You have a great control tower that lets you check both the engagement and the results of a single user and of all your coachees.

You can use it to encourage and push where necessary.


When it comes to remote coaching, the best practice is: prepare for the conversation just like it was you who is playing it and review the conversation played by your coachee to identify the most critical point you want to discuss.

Then you have several ways to engage in an online meeting using popular communication tools, emailing your comments or using the integrated messaging facilities.


Adjust the follow-up: Reschedule the boot camp according the coaching session results

Bootcamps should be personalized and adjusted according to the gaps that have come to light time after time.
You can reschedule appointments and swap critical conversations.

You can decide to bookmark one specific conversation and keep it apart for discussion during the next session.

All of the possibilities made available to you with SkillGym will dramatically expand the opportunities of your coaching business model and set you apart from your competition.


Remote coaching: what it is and how it changes everything?

SkillGym offers the option of delivering a totally new class of service called remote coaching with which you can help your trainees to improve by doing, let them be reasonably independent in the learning activity and interact with them using a value-based approach.

You jump in when you are really needed.


In fact, when you assign a CONVERSATION to a trainee, they will be automatically supported by the system in scheduling and preparing for the meeting, playing the conversation and understanding where and how to improve.

At the same time, both of you can talk to each other based on questions they may have or details that you notice while remotely monitoring the training.
This is a totally new way of thinking about metric-driven remote support.


SkillGym’s tools that help your business model evolve

With Analytics and AR, you have the ability to delve into the smallest detail of any CONVERSATION that your trainees play.

You can go from Macro to Micro and focus on the areas you prefer. You can also go back in time and benchmark historical trends as well as different trainees’ performance and approach.

Then you can provide highly valued service such as keeping trainees on track (which is one of the greatest pitfalls of after-class follow-up assignments) by leveraging automation. You save time while providing great value to trainees and sponsors.

Lastly, you can utilize the metrics to demonstrate your impact, but also to orientate your clients before, during and after your intervention.


Coaching remotely: how its done

The power of augmented replay brings you where the action is (or was). You can select one conversation and play it step by step with all the information you need clearly in front of you.

You have several ways to decide where to focus: key steps, wave of performance, objectives.

You can decide several strategies for coaching: advise on the trend of overall skill development, work on specific objectives, focus on key steps of specific behaviors.

You can also interact with your trainees in the many ways offered by digital communication: online conference, email, messaging.


You can review a CONVERSATION together or simply discuss a new assignment.
You can even start from a simulation to continue the discussion about real life performance.

Possibilities are endless and all converge towards empowering your trainees for better (and measurable) performance.


Organize your agenda with the end in mind

Let’s take a look at what a “remote coaching” week on SkillGym looks like.

First of all, most of your remote coaching activity is…remote. So, you can imagine yourself anywhere but in a classroom.

Typically, you will organize your time to split activities by type along the week. This will speed up your work and reduce your overall effort.


Always keep the final goal clear in front of you: sound final metrics of engagement and improvement and thus organize your remote coaching activity accordingly.

SkillGym already offers you smart metrics to monitor, but you may want to add your own as well. Be metric driven…always.

Do not distribute your time evenly across your trainees. Adapt your intervention according to where you can make the difference and where it is really needed.

Remember: SkillGym on its own will do part of the hard job, so no need to double the effort.


Look for patterns, it will lighten your load

SkillGym offers a lot of elements to coach on and unless you want to spend hours and hours in remote coaching activities, you need to select carefully where to focus and what to coach on.

Look for patterns, starting from the group macro situations and search for those who are not in line with what you’d expect (in good and bad times, of course).


Then zoom in and select where to jump in based one predefined strategy. Always ask yourself, what really matters here and focus on a few important elements.

For example, the behaviors behind not hitting the objectives, or the rollercoaster waves of performance or anything else that the powerful Augmented Replay offers you in order to make the difference in guiding your trainees performance journey.


Ensure continuously committed and expect some will lose engagement

Rely on SkillGym’s automatic system to keep them motivated, but do not forget to monitor participation. Sometimes your personal touch will make the difference in bringing someone back if they have been idle for too long.

Remember that training is continuity over intensity.

So plan your program in a sustainable way, because this will ensure a higher level of conformity to the program.


And, in the end, expect that some of them will disengage along the way. It’s human after all.

This is an interesting metric to present to your sponsor (as long as it is not endemic!), showing the dark side of leading by example.


What’s next

Well, here we are. If you are looking around to find the Digital Role Play solution that suits your needs, please take a look at our website for plenty of inspiring content including pre-recorded webinars and articles. Of course, we would also be delighted to continue this conversation with you, all you need to do is book a 1-hour discovery call with us.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Leave a Reply