The CoachAccountable Blog

Master CoachAccountable and become the best dang coach you can be. Also, news.

9 Years: Happy Birthday, CoachAccountable

Birthday Cake with a big 9 candle

Easiest switch up from last year’s cake ever: I just changed the 8 to a 9 in a Photoshop text layer.

Goodness me, has it been another year already?  I don’t know about y’all, but this is the longest I’ve ever stayed put at a single job. :)-

As has been the case now 8 times before, I’m again delighted at all that we’ve put out in service of the coaching community during the last 365.

CoachAccountable has progressed on a number of fronts.  Perhaps most popular has been the addition of Course Pages and other course enhancements, which collectively put CoachAccountable Courses very much on the level with popular LMS platforms.

The addition of CoachAccountable Companies enables coaches and coaching organizations to effectively interface with client companies, including company invoices, company-wide engagements, and even allowing company personnel their very own way to log in and keep up to date within CA itself.

The addition of alternate appointment availabilities, schedule nudges, and a other ergonomic enhancements further closed the gap between CA’s Appointment Scheduling and other popular scheduling apps, making it possible for even more folks to drop yet another app.

We added a number of features that enable powerful new ways of interacting with clients, including Client Present Mode to make screensharing during sessions a great idea, and Worksheet Answer Comments to allow easy sharing of laser-focused feedback.

Perhaps most meaningful of all, we mapped out several dimensions of how to be a more powerful coach, including being accountable beyond baseline integrity, how to execute novel ways of wowing prospects into paying clients, and even elevating the pedestrian act of taking session notes to an art form.

These are novel dimensions that are not really taught in typical coach trainings, and we couldn’t be happier to be able to contribute to the delight that your clients’ experience of working with you, and do so in ways that go beyond the conversations themselves.

Speaking of going beyond conversations, one other big thing that got shipped during CoachAccountable’s 9th year is a completely new 8-email course that folks can sign up for when first getting an account.  It’s titled “Beyond Mere Conversations: The Magic of a Platform Supporting Your Coaching”.

It really kinda all falls under these umbrellas, doesn’t it?

This replaces the old course, “Coaching with Software: How to use Technology for Superior Results”, which I originally wrote over about 3 days in the Euro Cafe in Granada, Nicaragua back in October, 2012.  That one held up well, but in the intervening years it would be fair to say that CoachAccountable has gotten much more advanced.  So a new telling of the story of what CA brings and how to use it is very much in order.

All told, doing our thing in service of the coaching community remains very much a labor of love.  In spite of whatever chaos has been unfolding amid world events, Morgan, Jaclyn and I agree that there’s always a sort of calm respite in creating good in our little corner of the world; and we are honored to serve the vital, world-changing work that you all do.

Here’s to another year!

 

Scheduled Messages to Clients

Here’s a neat little trick that can add an extra bit of supportive presence for your clients when you’re not around.

CoachAccountable has long allowed you to send out a quick email to your client, allowing you to keep a record of the correspondence as well as just plain being handy.

You can now send a message to your client in the exact same way BUT have it actually be sent out at whatever future date and time you like.  Compose now, schedule delivery for later.

Let’s see how it works!

Setting up Scheduled Messages for your Clients

To set up a scheduled message for your client, you start in the usual way by clicking the little email icon next to their head shot on their Client Page:

UI with the email client button

This brings up the message composing window like usual, but notice at the bottom there’s a “Send later…” button.  Clicking it reveals the controls to choose when you’d like your message to be sent:

UI for composing a client message to be sent later

This time defaults to an hour in the future, but you’ll probably want to set it to something a little more deliberate.

Whenever you’ve got one or more messages that are scheduled to be sent to your client, you’ll notice the email button gains a little extra button:

Client Message adder button with an extra icon

You’ll know at a glance when you’ve got a message scheduled to go out.

Clicking this little icon reveals whatever messages you have scheduled that are yet to go out:

Listing of scheduled messages

You can tee up as many messages as you like, but this should generally be a pretty short list.

You can cancel out any scheduled messages here simply by clicking the trash icon, that deletes it fully.

If you want to view (and perhaps modify) the contents of a message you’ve got scheduled, simply click the edit icon.  Doing so brings up the full compose window once again, wherein you can even revise decisions to CC yourself (or not) and add to the client’s Stream (or not):

Editing interface for an already scheduled message

Want the message to be sent immediately? Just change the sending date & time to anything that’s now or earlier.

Scheduled messages that you have set to CC yourself will arrive in your inbox at the same time your client receives it.

And that’s all there’s to it!  Scheduling message to clients allows you to very easily share with your client a thoughtful communication (be it bit of wisdom, encouragement, a reminder, or something else), and have them get it when it can be most useful and timely.

Enjoy!

Coach Actions

When it comes to tracking who’s doing what and when, CoachAccountable is by and large concerned with the doings of the clients, and making it as easy as possible for coach to support those doings.

So when action plans are made (more often, co-created by coach and client in the course of a session), those plans are generally meant for the client to execute.

And yet, it is not uncommon for coach to undertake certain tasks in service of her clients.  Effectively, these tasks are promises made to fulfill her end of the working relationship.

To support that, CoachAccountable now allows coaches to create Action items that are designated for coach to do, rather than client.  In other words, Coach Actions enter the mix along side the more conventional Client Actions.

Let’s see how they work!

Using Coach Actions

First things first: there is to enable Coach Actions.  They are not on by default, as there’s no need to add any UI clutter for those coaches who don’t plan to use them.

To enable Coach Actions, simply visit Settings >> System >> Coach Actions.  There you will be greeted by the simplest, most sparse in-app page that CoachAccountable has to offer:

Configuration screen for coach actions

Just a few clicks and you’ll have these enabled. If you’re into ’em.

Simply flip the switch, and decide for yourself whether or not you’d like a Coach Actions section added to your home page.  Click the “Save Settings” button and you’re set.

Once enabled, you’ll find a little bit of extra UI when creating an Action from a Client Page.  To the right there’s a little note that says “This is for so-and-so to do”, along with a “change” link.  Clicking the change link toggles the Action as being for you or your client, like so:

UI controls for toggling who the Action is for

Note the paring down when the Action is for you: no project, no comments, no notifications to client.  Keepin’ it simple.

Like more conventional Actions for your clients, Coach Actions are meant to help you keep on top of those things you need to get done for your clients, so the usual “this is now late” alerts and ability to set reminders apply.  Naturally, reminders you set for these will only be for you as coach, never your client.

When you have one or more Actions that are designated for you to do, the client’s Current Actions area contains those in a separate section plus appropriate labeling to make it clear who’s responsible for what:

A listing of client actions broken into 2 sections, for coach and for client

Now we’re clear.

As you might expect, these Coach Actions are completely invisible to your clients, and similarly hide themselves automatically when you switch in to Client Present Mode:

Listing of Client Actions wherein Coach Actions are hidden

Coach Actions are fully hidden from clients.

Provided you’ve opted to have them show there, you can see (and create) Coach Actions from your home page for all of your clients:

The coach's home page with the Actions tab showing all Coach Actions

Fun fact: you can click on the avatar of a given client to jump to their Client Page.

Other Considerations

By design, completed or canceled Coach Actions do NOT live in the Past tab for clients: they are are meant to be more transient, so there’s no need clutter the record of your client’s accomplishment.  But rest assured that you can still see all of your past Coach Actions on your home page >> Actions >> Past tab.

All Coach Actions are meant to be associated with a specific client.  These are not meant as a generic to-do list, but instead as a tool crafted specifically to empower you to make good on promises that pertain to your clients.  If you want to make Coach Actions that don’t actually pertain to any of your clients, the simplest way is to simply associate them with your freebie client.

In addition to standard reminders you might set for individual Coach Action items, CoachAccountable will lovingly include a reminder about any unfinished Actions you might have for a client in the lead up to an Appointment you have with them, done as a simple addendum to any notification emails you have set, like so:

An appointment reminder email for coach containing a reminder of outstanding actions

Ah, right! Egg on my face were I to leave those undone going into our next session…

And that’s it!  Coach Actions are really all about you showing up powerfully for your clients: armed with a tool that takes the guess work out of what to do, for whom, and by when, AND taking forgetting off the table, you’re able to make promises to your clients with confidence, and follow through like a seasoned professional every time.

Worksheet Answer Comments

This one’s about what you’d expect from its 3-word name: it’s the ability to post comments on individual answers as entered for individual questions within a Worksheet assignment.  This is distinct from (and in addition to) being able to post a comment on an entire Worksheet in the usual way, and so at first glance may seem superfluous.

No one that I know of has actually asked for this feature, yet it’s one that I’m really excited to release.

Why should that be?

The power of this feature is subtle, and therefore easy to miss.  Yet when you understand what it makes possible for you as coach, one who’s offering a premium, high-touch experience, you might wonder how you ever got by without it.

Allow me to explain such a tall claim.

Three years ago I was in a fitness and weight loss coaching program for about 5 months (it was My Body Tutor, if you’re curious).  IT WORKED.  I started the program at 210lbs, and weighed in at 182 when I called it, back to the trim figure I enjoyed as a twenty-something and a thoroughly satisfied customer.

Two-and-a-half years later I consistently weigh in around 183, give or take a pound.  So for those of you keeping score, in that program I lost 28 pounds, and after all this time have gained back 1.  It is fair to say my results were both profound and lasting.

Here’s the point of my sharing this:

The magic of the program lied in the daily check-in: a form that us participants filled out every day to document meals, any snacking, exercise, and mindset.  Maybe a few other things, but that was the gist.

The super-duper magic of the program was that your coach would, EVERY DAY, post comments on every bit of that check-in form, even (especially?) those parts you left blank.

Make some great food choices?  You’d soon see written positive feedback congratulating you for it.  Didn’t so much as get in a 5 minute walk?  Coach would read as much, and the comment he made ensured that you knew that HE knew.

Coach was in your world, giving specific guidance on all the specific bits you were reporting.  After a week or so, you KNEW that if you filled in “pop tart” for that breakfast question you were gonna hear about it the next day, and because of it, the chump-looking-like-aversion (that we are all blessed/cursed with) would quickly be in your corner to help you NOT make such obvious missteps.

The daily feedback loop ritual, so long as you kept on track to participate in it, was a veritable good habits factory.

That tight feedback loop was enabled by coach being able to easily and effortlessly give you focused feedback on every little component.  Coach didn’t have to compose lengthy missives to cover the whole thing, wherein half the keystrokes were prefacing what she was talking about (“Okay, so for your breakfast what I see is…”).  It was just on-point feedback on everything, where what she was talking about was obvious from context.  The whole scheme of commenting on individual answers took the cognitive load of both writing and reading way down.

Voila, the case for being able to comment on each answer within a Worksheet.

And now you can in CoachAccountable.  Let’s see how it works!

Adding Comments to Worksheet Answers

When you’re looking at a Worksheet (as found in the Completed tab of your client’s Worksheets area), you’ll now see a new “Comment on answers…” button at the bottom, like so:

Button to comment on answers

It may not be catchy, but it is clear!

(Note that this button ONLY appears for Form-Based Worksheets: it won’t appear for a freestyle, WYSIWYG Worksheet, because those aren’t structured as having individual answers on which you could comment.)

Clicking this button unceremoniously does… nothing, save for cause the button disappear.  Or so it seems!  Rest assured it’s not broken.  Instead what you’ve done is toggle into commenting on answers mode.  What that means is that by hovering your mouse over ANY answer reveals a “Comment…” hover effect, putting you one click away from being able to comment on whichever answer you click:

Hover and Click to comment

Just hover and click, and you’re ready to type.

Once you click “Add comment”, your comment appears right where you might expect: immediately below the answer:

Posted answer comment

Indeed, they’re quite popular.

You can post comments to any or all of the answers in the Worksheet, and add multiple comments on a single answer.

When in answer commenting mode, you’ll also note that by hovering over a comment you made previously you’ll see a trash can by which to delete it:

Deleting an answer comment

Because you can always second thoughts, or want a redo.

Make a typo or want to reword something?  Just delete and re-add (there’s no edit button… let’s not make things too complicated here!).

And that’s all there is to it: that’s how commenting works once you’re in-app, looking at the Worksheet in order to do it.  Comments are written directly into the Worksheet, and so they appear in the exact same way when that Worksheet is viewed in other ways (like from the Stream, in a Client Export, and so on).

To make it super simple for you to get in to add those comments, there’s a new magic link that will appear in the notification emails you get when your client completes a Worksheet:

Link that appears in an email to let you go comment on answers

View it online? Or do something a little more?

Clicking on that “Comment on answers…” link takes you right to your client’s page (once you’re logged in, of course), brings the Worksheet up front and center, and automatically toggles you into commenting on answers mode.  You’re able to get in and out QUICK, with the only brain power you need to exert carefully preserved for making those insightful comments.

Delightful!

Sharing Comments With Your Clients

Comments posted in this manner are a LITTLE different than ones you can post on any Stream Item.  Those comments are standalone communications, suitable for emailing off to your client the second you post them (assuming that’s the notification setting your client has opted for).

These answer comments, by contrast, are meant to be done (and taken in) as a series: if it’s a Worksheet with 10 questions (or even 2) that merit some form of targeted feedback, it would be inappropriate to whisk each one off as a separate email.  Lacking the context of the answer you’re commenting on it would be confusing, too.

BUT whatever comments you make on your client’s answers you’ll DEFINITELY want to share with them, and the system has you covered to quickly do that in precisely two clicks.

When you post the first comment on your client’s answers, you’ll notice the little email icon in the bottom row lights up, like so:

Emailing comment lit up

“Oooh, shiny!” In this instance, that instinct will serve you WELL.

This is a little prompting reminder that means to communicate “Hey, you’ve added one or more comments; you should probably (ahem, kinda definitely) email these off to your client when you’re done!”

Click it, and the usual dialog to email the Worksheet off to your client appears…

Worksheet emailer dialog

That’s a nice little note that plainly says what’s going on.

…but with one handy twist: a suitable personal note automatically appears in this special case of emailing your client answer comments.  You can customize this however you like.  The system will remember it for the next time, and smart [clientFirstName] insertion happens automatically for whichever client you’re sending to.

Send it off, and your client sees your little note AND your comments all in one handy email:

Laser focused guidance delivered direct to your client’s inbox, all requiring minimal effort on your part.

A Two-Way Dialog of Commentary

Your clients can ALSO post comments on answers… but ONLY if you start it.  Meaning when your client views a Worksheet in their Completed Worksheets area, they too will see the “Comment on answers…” button IF there already exists one or more answer comments on that Worksheet.

This is nice in that your client won’t get distracted by that button if it’s really not relevant to your workflow (or even only not relevant to a specific Worksheet).  The same rules apply for them to notify you: they too will see the email icon light up if they comment, and they too must make those two clicks to email those comments to you.

So if you plan to have them in on the commenting dialog, let them know they need to actually send ’em your way, or they’re as good as unmade as far as you’re concerned. :)

Dialog of comments on an answer

Preach, sister.

Incorporating Answer Comments into Your Style

Like I said at the top, providing comments on your client’s answers is a very high-touch way of giving on-point and nuanced feedback.  It can be a tremendously valuable gift you give your clients as part of their experience of working with you (trust me, I know!), and can have profound effects by shaping and reinforcing good habits.

It is also thoroughly optional, it won’t be fitting for some types of Worksheet, and certainly needn’t be done all the time or for every answer.

So how you design your Worksheets and how you tailor your promises to regularly comment (or not comment) is yet another creative avenue by which you’re able to design a powerful and compelling coaching experience, one that meets clients where they’re at and what they’re up for1.  You could, for example, offer a top-tier plan wherein your promise is to give detailed feedback on progress daily, and then lower plans wherein they get that service at less frequent intervals.

It’s up to you, and I hope with this new capability you’ll find creative joy in tinkering with what might become a cherished part of the value you provide, all to your clients’ benefit.

Enjoy!

Note:
  1. See our Designing your Coaching Business Model webinar for more on this topic.

Better Courses

Since the release of Course Pages a few months back, we’ve introduced a few enhancements to for how those work, and to Courses more broadly.  Let’s see what’s new!

Course Page Menu Sub-Menus

This is a bit of a mouth full, but nevertheless a welcome addition which jibes nicely with what folks expect in a Course display.

Course Pages are broken into Sections.  When designing those Sections, one can make an ordered sequence of whatever items one desires: Actions, Worksheets, Files and more make up the building blocks of a section.

The entire course is navigable by those sections in the Course Page left menu.  With the addition of sub-menus, you and your clients can now view (and navigate to) individual items within those Sections.

Course Page Sub Menus

Even if not clickable yet, these menus give your clients a sense for the road ahead (if you allow it!).

This is especially nice when you opt for the “Participants can see complete timeline” visibility setting, as it means now clients are welcome to see a summary of the road ahead, even for portions of the course not yet released.

Course Progress Meters

You can now opt to have the system display a progress bar for their course, giving them an at-a-glance sense for how much progress they’ve made so far relative to the complete course.

Course Page Progress Meters

As seen on the Course Page’s side menu, these progress meters update themselves in real time as your clients make progress.

You’ll find the place to turn progress meters on in the Basics area:

Enabling Progress Meters

The Basics section of the Course editor is where you can turn progress meters on.

Once enabled, the Course Builder will accordingly let you set weights for each of the complete-able types of items, i.e. Actions, Worksheets and Files:

Setting a Course Item's progress weights

Indicate how significant the completion of a given item is by setting its weight.

The weights tell CA how much of the progress meter should show as being full when a complete-able item gets completed, and the result is now that you and your clients have an accurate gauge of how for they’ve progressed.

Course Page Position Persistence

When your clients are working through a Course as laid out in Course Pages, they might close the browser or otherwise navigate away.  Their exact position, including which Section they were in and how far down the page they were scrolled, is now remembered and instantly recalled whenever your client revisits the course page, making it easy to pick up from exactly where they left off.

Remixed Course Participant Details

The Courses area for a Client or Group now has a much more streamlined display, making more prominent the spiffy course thumbnails you can set, and more obvious targets to just click on the card in order to visit the Course Page (when applicable).  The progress meter appears in these cards (when enabled), as does a radial chart showing how far they’ve progressed (as measured in Days or Steps).

Course Participant Cards

Click anywhere in the card to jump to the Course Page (when applicable) and hover to reveal other controls.

The full summary of how many items have dispatched appears now as its own pop up upon clicking the magnifying glass icon.  This summary display is now also available from the coach dashboard >> Courses area, by clicking a magnifying glass icon in the Participants listing for a given course.

Course Participant Details

See exactly where your client is in the sequence of items, and the summary of what’s done and what’s not (including timeliness!).

Course Pause Items for Step-Based Courses

There’s a new type of item you can now add when building your Step-Based Courses, and that is a Pause.

Step-Based courses are, by design, meant to be self-paced.  Clients can blaze through the assignment and materials as fast as they like, where the completion of one item triggers the immediate release whatever is next.

This is in contrast to a Day-Based Course, where items are generally dispatched on a consistent schedule of whatever you set (e.g. at 10:00am on Day 1, give them this, then at 3:42pm on Day 2, give them that, etc.).

With pauses, you can sort of get a hybrid approach: you can define segments of a course that are meant to be worked through at whatever pace your client desires, but then broken up by one or more pause points.

A pause point can be set to only manually resumed.  This is great for when you would like to have a chance to intervene, inspect their progress, or have a conversation, and allowing them to continue on only when you deem fit.

It can also be set to auto resume after some per-determined delay, and optionally resume always on a particular day of the week (e.g. resume this course on the following Monday at 9:00am).

Here’s what all of these controls look like when adding a Pause item to your Step-Based Course:

Course Pause Setup Controls

The “waiting for the next one as needed” for specific day-of-the-week resume rules is a bit of a mouthful, but this all allows you precise control over the flow of things.

A course participation paused in this manner is just like when you as coach manually do the pausing.  Accordingly, you can yourself manually unpause (or schedule a different auto-unpause day), whenever you like in the usual way, via the Course Participation editor.


And there you have it!

With these upgrades CoachAccountable Courses are now even more on parity with many popular LMS platforms out there, with their uniquely interactive bits tailored just for coaching to boot!  Big thanks to the several coaches whose feedback contributed to this bevvy of improvements.  Enjoy!

Follow Through Reports

One of the magical things of having CoachAccountable turn your coaching relationships into structured, documented experiences for your clients is that you (and they!) have a detailed window into how things are going: what’s been created, what’s been accomplished, and, to the point of driving accountability and execution, what’s getting done and what’s not.

A Client’s individual Client Page gives a detailed window into how progress is unfolding, and this can transparency lends power to your coaching calls.  You can skip the weather report and dive right in, thanks to heightened awareness of your client’s situation.

Thanks to the newly released Follow Through Reports, you can take this idea a step further and get an at-a-glance view of how ALL of your clients are doing, follow-through-wise, with their assignments.As you might expect, you’ll find the new Follow Through Reports on the Reports page:

Finding Follow Through Reports from the menu

There are two flavors to choose from when it comes to viewing the timeliness and completion of client assignments: Actions and Worksheets.

Here’s an example of a Follow Through Report on Worksheets that have been assigned over the last month or so:

 

Follow Through Reports for Worksheets

A quick, at-a-glance view of how clients are doing on their Worksheet assignments.

The total width of the summary bar is proportional to the number of assignments a given client has had over the date range in question.  Hovering your mouse over a given colored summary band explains what contributes to it.  Clicking on any header allows you to sort, and even the summary column is sortable, revealing a rough ordering of the overall consistency of follow through.

By clicking the gear icon, you reveal a few more controls by which to customize and filter your report.  If, for example, you have all of your clients doing a weekly reporting, you can get an at-a-glance view of who is and who isn’t keeping up for a given week (or over any other time span), like so:

Filter controls for a Follow Through Report

By filtering on the name of the Worksheet, you can see how follow through is panning out for a particular type of assignment.

With a Team Edition account, you can also get a breakdown of client follow though organized by coach, allowing you to see if and how your team coaches are varying in the follow through of their respective clients.

Follow Through by coach

Sorting by summary, then by coach gives a nice summary that is grouped by coach.  Solid bands in the summary bar are for items that are completed; the faded variations denote not yet.

By clicking on the magnifying glass icon found on the right for each client, you can bring up a detailed summary of all the Actions/Worksheets that comprise those stats:

Listing of Actions for a Follow Through Report

Now you can see exactly which items are contributing to (and detracting from) timely follow through.

And if you feel so inclined to drill into the details of your client’s follow through, you can go one step further and click the magnifying glass for any specific item.  This brings up the item’s full details, as well as comments:

Commenting on an item

See something outstanding and already late? Might be the perfect time to offer up some friendly encouragement.

The ability for you to comment right then and there is powerful: it’s an easy way to offer up some timely acknowledgement for effort already made, and encouragement on specific bits not yet complete.

So much of the magic of coaching relies on clients doing the work to apply it to their lives, the stuff of what happens (or doesn’t!) when you’re NOT there.  With these new Follow Through Reports, you’ve got another tool at your disposal to keep tabs on how things are going across ALL your clients, and offer gentle nudges in support of their follow through with very little effort.

Shout out to Steve O. in Australia for the inspiration on this one: this addition is apt to benefit many!

Introducing Company Engagements

If you’re coaching multiple people at a company, you’re likely already using CoachAccountable Companies. And if you productize your coaching into packages, you’re probably taking advantage of CoachAccountable Engagements. Now you can also put Companies into Engagements, in order to:

  • Automatically invoice the Company on a regular basis
  • Track how much of a package the Company has used
  • Distribute the allocated appointments evenly over all coachees at a Company

Let’s take a look.

Company Engagement Setup

Before you can use Company Engagements, you’ll need to do a few things.

  1. Enable both Companies and Engagements, if you haven’t already. Do this by clicking on your headshot in the upper right >> My Account >> Add Ons.
  2. Add a Company. Follow the steps in this article to do so.
  3. Recommended, but not required: Add at least one Company Personnel. This is especially necessary if someone at the company needs to receive and pay the invoices.
  4. Recommended, but not required: Create an Engagement Template.

On your Companies list, you’ll see that each Company has a handshake icon next to the Manage button (gear icon). Click the handshake icon to start.

Great Ideas are meant to be shown! Let’s put Great Ideas Co. into a couple of Engagements. That’s right…a couple!

Note: For Team Edition accounts, find Companies at the bottom of the left side menu on your Team Administration page. For single coach accounts, find it at the bottom of the left side menu on your home dashboard page.

Click + Engagement, then choose one of your templates from the dropdown as a starting point, and Set it up.

You’ll have the same Engagement settings as you do for an individual client (find an in-depth walkthrough here), with a few notable additions.

Basics Tab

Including

Use this to apply the Engagement to all clients in a Company, or to just some. If this is set to “everyone”, any new clients who are added to the Company will automatically become part of this Engagement.

Per-Client Limit

This allows you to require a more even distribution of appointments or hours. Without anything here, one client at the company can potentially book far more than others. When defined, though, it will limit each person to only being able to book up to a certain number of appointments or hours out of the full allocation.

Managing Personnel

This determines who at the company should receive notifications about this particular Engagement. Note that this does not change the recipient of company invoices; that is done at the level of the Company as a whole (adjust who’s responsible for receiving invoices by editing the settings for an individual Personnel).

If the company has a credit card on file, that card will be automatically billed at the time(s) set by the Engagement, and the Personnel who is set to receive company invoices will be sent a receipt.

Personnel Visibility

Replacing “client visibility” for an individual client’s Engagement, this sets the level of visibility you’d like Personnel to have into the Engagement’s progress. This applies to both the managing Personnel for this Engagement and any other Personnel who receive access to seeing Company Engagements.

“Totally hidden from Personnel” means just that (the Engagement will be invisible to all Company Personnel), and the only difference between the other two is whether or not the invoicing should be visible to Personnel.

Notifications Tab

You’ll see that the two parties who can be notified for a Company Engagement are the coach and the company (rather than coach and client). The managing personnel you set back on the Basics tab will be the one to receive these notifications on behalf of the company.

Note that for Schedule Nudges, these will be sent when no future appointments are scheduled for anyone in the Company Engagement.

Viewing Company Engagements

You’ll notice that on each Company’s page, you now have an Engagements tab. Here, you can view and manage any current Engagements, create additional ones, or schedule future ones.

When managing Personnel, you’ll also see a new Engagement setting in each person’s Permissions area.

Decide whether each Personnel should have no visibility into the company’s Engagements, view only the ones for which they are the managing Personnel, or view all of their company’s Engagements. Keep in mind that this visibility will also be affected by what you’ve set in the Basics tab of the Engagement setup. For example, if Steve is allowed to see all the Company Engagements, but for a particular Engagement we’ve set the visibility to “Totally hidden,” Steve won’t see that particular Engagement.

Let’s take a look at what the Personnel can see.

Note the new Engagements item in the left side menu. This item will hide itself if there are no Company Engagements, or none that this particular Personnel can see.


And that’s it! We’re happy to have another piece in place for those CoachAccountable coaches who work more at an enterprise-level scale.

Delightful Collaboration XI: Client Present Mode

It’s been a while since I’ve written up an entry in the Delightful Collaboration series.  Though it may look like it’s only the 11th time (judging by the roman numeral above), acting on the input of our community to make CA better happens roughly once a week!

This one comes from Michiel Bosman of Open Forest Evidence-Based Online Coaching.  He wrote:

I am probably asking for the impossible, but this is very important to me from a privacy/NDA standpoint: I do a lot of CA screen sharing with my clients.

I would love to have a Single Client Mode: I click a checkbox, system will not show anything related to any other client, until I click that checkbox again.

This immediately jumped out at me as interesting.  CoachAccountable has always had the power to serve as a de facto shared, virtual workspace between coach and client.  Coach sharing his or her screen with client (or vice-versa) is a powerful way to invite structured collaboration (e.g. during a session, when actions are being planned, insights are being captured, and so forth).

But I really appreciate the abundance of caution that this request entails.  Indeed, when it’s coach doing the screen sharing, well, there’s a LOT of other data that coach can bring up with a click or two (a convenience that is quite intentional!), yet much of it is data that’s NOT suitable for a given client to see.

So I get the desire for a sort of “single client mode”: that power to accidentally wander over into another part of the system not meant for a client’s eyes could make the prospect of sharing your screen nerve wracking.

We’re always keen to make CA more thoroughly accommodating to expectations of privacy and confidentiality, for they are expectations that such sensitive work truly merits.  To that end, I present to Michiel and the rest of the CA community what we call “Client Present Mode”.

Client Present Mode is a mode you can activate when viewing a given Client Page1.

You’ll find the toggle button for it by hovering your mouse over the very bottom region of the left sidebar of a given client page. (On a touch device, simply tap in that bottom region to reveal it.)

Toggle Client Present Mode

Move your mouse on down to that bottom portion of the left sidebar, and the toggle button appears.

Activating Client Present Mode hides the following:

  • navigation links,
  • the top client search,
  • private items,
  • private comments,
  • private side notes,
  • other pages (if visited),
  • and other distractions.

Generally speaking, it makes everything in your CoachAccountable browser window appropriate for your client to see in a screen sharing scenario.

Client Present Mode - active

It even hides those little light bulb icons, because you’re PROBABLY not meaning to peruse the help articles while working with your client. :)

If you hit the browser back button or reload the page?  Things remain appropriately locked, until you exit present mode.  Instead of seeing any potentially sensitive content, you’ll see this:

Client Present Mode Content Lock

Tough but fair.

And that’s all there is to it!  Client Present Mode makes it so you can confidently share your screen with your client (whether or not you post non-shared-with-client content), AND eliminates the possibility of accidentally showing a client the wrong thing through accidental navigation.

I’m excited for how this makes in-app collaborative work with clients more universally appropriate, and what that will enable coaches to bring through co-creation of insights and steps to move forward.  Thanks Michiel for putting this on our radar!

Note:
  1. Fun fact: there’s a little double entendre in the word “Present” in this context: is it present (pri-ˈzent) the verb, as in presenting to your client?  Or is it present (ˈpre-zᵊnt), the adjective, referring to the client is present? Yes. :)

Course Pages

CoachAccountable Courses allow you to automate the delivery of coaching materials and assignments, either as a slow drip over a multitude of days, or as an interactive sequence wherein completing the current step leads you to the next (allowing clients to work through the course in self-paced fashion).

Courses are built from items of various types: Actions, Worksheets, Files and so on, and these types correspond to how the system is organized for clients: Actions live in a client’s Actions tab, files live in a client’s Files tab, and so on.

This siloed grouping of course items (by type) generally works fine for clients to work through a course: one’s attention is usually on just one item, and prompts to move on to the next one allow you to jump you right to it.  But then afterwards there’s not really a place for one to go view the course in its entirety: one can easily view the parts, but not see them as a sequential whole.

Here’s where Course Pages come in.

By designing your course to be broken into one or more sections, and adding in static content (content that augments the more interactive bits like Actions and Worksheets), Course Pages become an alternate way for your clients to elegantly view and work through your course material.

Let’s see how they work!

Enabling Course Pages for a given Course

To make a Course geared for Course Pages, the first step is to enable it.  Because a Course Page is ultimately a way for your clients to see the course they are in (rather than merely receive the course items in automated fashion), properly setting the Visibility of a Course is necessary.

If a client doesn’t even know they’re in a course, Course Pages are naturally moot.

When set to “Totally hidden from participants”, Course Pages necessarily can’t apply.  By setting Visibility to one of the other two options, you are then given the option to enable Course Pages.

Turn ’em on and you’re halfway there.

Building a Course that’s geared for Course Pages works just like the conventional way.  Like always, you have your complete timeline (of days or steps) onto which you drag your various items: Actions, Messages, Whiteboards, and so on.

However in addition to those usual items, when Course Pages is enabled you have two more that you can drag onto your timeline: “Course Section” and “Page Content”.

New additions to the usual Course building blocks allow you to define structure and add content.

Organizing Course Pages into Sections

Course Sections are the key element of organizing the content of your course into a Course Page display.

When you add a Course Section to your timeline (and give it a name), that’s your way of telling CA that “Everything that follows this item should appear within this section”.  When you add another Course Section item later in the timeline, that means you’re ending the previous section and starting a new one: again, everything that follows THAT item will appear under that section.

By adding several sections along the span of your timeline, you are essentially chopping up your Course into those sections.  To think of it the other way, adding items between those section items amounts to you building up the content of those sections.

If you don’t add any sections at all, that means the Course Page view of your Course will be completely empty.

Stemming from the same logic, any items of your Course that PRECEDE the very first Course Section will simply not appear anywhere in the Course Page view.  (This can actually be a handy and desirable thing… just make sure you actually mean to do it!)

Augmenting Course Pages with Content

By dragging Page Content items onto your timeline, you can add arbitrary content (complete with formatting, images, embeddable media, and so on) to be part of what displays when clients view your course.

Adding content in this way is an excellent way to intersperse instructions, lessons, and other discussion about the more interactive bits that Courses are comprised of.  For example you can present a descriptive preamble that tees up an action item, or a lesson upon which a client will be reflecting on in a subsequent Worksheet.

Unlike most other items, this content won’t appear anywhere for your clients except on the Course Page itself.

If you feel so inclined, you can have a Course that’s ONLY sections plus content, completely eschewing the usual interactive bits and thereby creating an experience that amounts to merely consuming content (like is more commonly offered in other course platforms).  Doing so, however, is generally a missed opportunity: prompting reflection and action on whatever content you’re sharing is your way of supporting meaningful application of what clients are learning.

Tips for Building Course Pages

The Course Builder has a few things to help you easily build, tinker with, and ultimately refine the course experience you’ll be creating.

Quickly view and navigate the section structure of your course, and give things a real test drive with a preview.

The left side Navigate menu gives you some visual feedback around how you’ve got your Course laid out.  As you add Course Sections, you’ll see a mini menu of the sections you have appear.  These mini links allow you to quickly scroll up and down the timeline to jump to a given section.

Furthermore, the navigate map of the numbered Days (or Steps) your course is comprised of will be augmented with a little top-left triangle piece, signifying the presence of a new Course Section start on that day (or step).  This visual allows you to get a sense of how your sections are spread out over your timeline, helping you design a nicely balanced breakdown of your course into those sections.

Finally the “Preview page display…” button gives just what you’d expect: you can quickly jump to and experience what the layout AND interactive flow will be like for your clients.  Jumping between the preview and builder mode will allow you to iterate quickly as you put the finishing touches to get your Course to perfection.  (Moreover, it’s a great way to get familiar with how what you design corresponds to what clients will see… super handy when you’re just getting started!)

Aside from that “Exit preview mode” button, this is pretty much exactly what your clients will see.

There’s one key way in which your preview experience is different from what you’re clients ultimately see, and that is you, as course designer, are allowed to freely jump ahead to future sections that are not yet opened up.  This allows you to quickly preview ALL sections of our course while under construction, and you can rest assured your clients WON’T be able to violate the sequential nature of the course.

Course Thumbnails

To give your Courses just a little more visual flourish you can now upload thumbnails for them.  These will appear in the listing of all courses, as well as for your clients in their Courses tab (i.e. where they see the courses they are currently participating in and have participated in in the past).

Can’t be bothered to find or make a pretty image?  To make it super easy the system will generate one for you.  Just pick a stock image, set any overlay text and any overlay color, and you’re set!

Make your course pop, just a little.

Course Pages for Clients

The whole point of Course Pages is for your clients to have an elegant experience of going through your Courses.  As you might expect, they’ll find the place to access the course (or courses) they are participating in in their Courses tab.

From there, clicking on the “To course page…” button (or the thumbnail, if you have one set) will take them right in to view and work on the course.

Clicking from the course listing isn’t the only way for clients to visit a Course Page.  If you set a notification message for a Course Section item, the [loginLink] magic tag will turn into a link that takes your client right to that section on that Course Page.

Like elsewhere, you can do the little double colon trick in the loginLink:: magic tag to explicitly set the clickable text you’d like the link to have.

This is super handy, and works when that notification message is delivered via email OR displayed in app (i.e. whenever a new section opens up in response to your client completing some preceding item).

Converting Existing Courses to Course Pages

If you already have a course for which you’d like to add the Course Pages experience, you can do so by making a few simple changes to your existing Course.  Simply enable Course Pages for it (done from the Course builder >> Basics area), and then add one or more Course Sections to it.  You may also optionally add Page Content items wherever fitting.

That’s all it takes: once “converted”, your clients will be able to view their courses in the Course Page display mode right away, even for Courses they’ve already been added to or even already completed.

When (and when not) to use Course Pages

A common use of Courses is to quickly and easily dump a bunch of “standard” items into a client’s account.  This might be, for example, to quickly share an essential library of files, or setup a core set of Metrics that every client generally tracks.  This is one facet of what we call the Starter Kit Course, and while useful it’s a poor candidate for a Course Page experience (because all those items AREN’T meant to be perused in sequential fashion).

By contrast, another use for Starter Kit Courses is as a sort of orientation or sequence of first steps to get going.  THAT usage, marked by a client working through some materials and assignments in sequential fashion, is PERFECT for Course Pages.

What if you have a course that does both?  Two options.  You can split it up into to separate courses, one for dumping in items and the other for your client to work through.  This is probably the safest bet and easiest to manage and setup without making mistakes or encountering gotchas.

If, however, you’re feeling confident in your CoachAccountable course building kung fu, you can do a fancy hack which is to combine the two.  Remember that note about how items that precede the very first Course Section item never appear on a Course Page (because they don’t belong to any section)?  You can use that fact to your advantage by adding all the “dump in” items prior to the first section, and then make an elegant sequence of content and assignments in the sections that follow.

Another common use of Courses is to deliver a regular check in or tracking Worksheet on a routine basis, most often to have the numbers reported in that Worksheet pipe into Metrics.  This would be a POOR use for Course Pages, because perusing a Course that was little more than an lengthy sequence of the same Worksheet over and over probably wouldn’t be useful or satisfying.  (Especially because it’s might nicer to flip through past Worksheets in the Worksheets >> Past tab.)

Generally speaking, Course Pages are for when you have a genuine structure of lessons (or modules, or units, or participatory steps, or…) that progress in sequential fashion.

Tips for Designing Course Page Experiences

Because Course Pages really pull for interactive progression as you work through, Course Pages are perhaps best suited to Step-Based Courses.  In step-based courses, completion of items in one step move you then on to the next, and this makes for a really satisfying experience of making progress.

That said, you can make Course Pages for a course that is time-based, i.e. dispatching over a span of days.  A classic example of this would be a Course spanning several weeks, wherein each week contains its own lesson (for example, wherein new lessons are unlocked on Mondays).

To make that work elegantly as a Course Page, you would put everything for a given lesson on the same day of the timeline, dispatching at the same time of day.  To make the interactive “go through these steps to work through the lesson” experience, you can drag items onto timeline day items to have their dispatch follow the completion of those preceding items.

Any item that is “completable” (namely Actions, Worksheets and Files) can have one or more items following that completion.

By daisy-chaining you can make sequences as long as you like.  The net effect is everything is essentially “ready to go” for the weekly lesson on Monday, and your client can, in self-paced fashion, reveal all of it as they complete the sequence of items.  And then the next Monday rolls around, unlocking all items from the next lesson.

By putting a Course Section item at the top of the lessons items, you can send a timed notification email that contains a [loginLink] that magically brings them right to that section of the Course Page.  It’s a slick experience to give your clients.


In many ways Course Pages has been a feature that has been a long time coming.

CA Courses have always been content to be kind of their own thing, emphasizing the interactive bits that layer onto work typical to coaching relationships.  But with the release of Course Pages the gap between CA Courses and other course & LMS platforms is DRASTICALLY narrower, now that you can design and give course consuming experiences that much more resemble that of conventional platforms.

That, coupled with the emphasis on fomenting genuine active participation and getting results (as opposed to just sitting back and consuming content, hoping for the best… AKA what I call “The Master Class” effect1), means CA Courses are exceptionally well suited to help blend the best of your tried-and-true content and that irreplaceable personal attention that makes coaching so magic, and do so all in service of your clients getting it and having it make a difference.

Enjoy!

Note:
  1. Big fan of MasterClass, it’s just… holy moly with those production values is it easy to JUST KEEP WATCHING rather than take any meaningful action to apply what you’re learning.  I probably would have canceled by now had I not, through sheer force of will, gotten myself in gear to make those 3-day croissants from Dominque Ansel’s class.  Totes delicious, by the way.

Making a Welcome Screencast for New Clients

We want clients to feel comfortable in their new coaching portal: clear about where things are, and tuned into why they matter.  A brief video tour that introduces clients to the portal is a powerful way to achieve that.

But making such a video can be a lot of work, and we’re sometimes asked if there was a sort of “template” starting point that folks can use as a leg up in the whole process.  Now there is!

There are so many different styles of coaching that CA can accommodate, and there’s a lot of variation in terms of which features are part of a given coach’s style.  But there are a lot of common threads too, and this sample script and video should serve as a great starting point for most.

You could show this as is to your clients (here’s the direct link if you want to embed it somewhere, or add it as a Library File), but it’ll probably be a lot more meaningful if it’s in your voice (and with your branding!).  To make short work of this project we’ve got this handy guide.  It’s a Google doc, and you can save a copy to your own Drive to make your own edits.

Welcome Screencast Script

Here’s the narration script, ripe for editing (or using verbatim!):

Welcome to our coaching portal, let me show you around! As a companion to our conversations it will play a large role in you getting the results you came for, and this tour will help you see why.

The system is broken into sections, and you can get around to each of them from this menu on the left. (Here at the top you see me, and this little email button allows you to send me a message whenever.)

First is Overview: this shows the things that are upcoming in our relationship, soonest items first. Over here in the Appointments tab you can see our upcoming appointments. By clicking the gear for one you can set reminders, reschedule, or cancel. You can book with me by clicking this +Appointment button.

Next let’s jump to Metrics. Here we’ll set up tracking for whatever’s important to you. This one is a sample to give you the idea, and we’ll work together to define these as games worth playing over the coming weeks and months.

Next is Actions. We’ll create a game plan together each week. Having them here will help you take meaningful action that will move you forward. You’re also going to see a growing record of accomplishment in the “Past” area.

Next is Session Notes. I’ll generally email the notes from our sessions right to you, but this area will become a growing treasure trove of insights that you’ll want to revisit now and then.

Next is Worksheets. I’ll generally email you new Worksheet assignments which will put you one click away from working on them, but here you’ll be able to find any and all outstanding assignments. You’ll also be able to review completed ones here.

Next is Journal. Feel free to write up any journal entries about your experiences here; they’ll be emailed to me and I’ll be happy to comment. You can also mark your entries private, for your eyes only.

Next is Files. This is where you’ll find files that I’ve shared with you. You can also share files with me, either as an upload or a hyperlink.

Next is Whiteboards. These are good for long term goals, easy-access information, and a general place to store ideas to revisit later. Sometimes I’ll be sharing these with you, and feel free to create one to share with me.

Finally, back to the Stream area: this is a combined listing of ALL the other things I’ve just shown you, ordered with the newest up top. From here you can post comments on any particular item, making it easy for you and I to have mini-conversations about a given thing.

Next let me show you the My Account page: from your name here at the top right, you’ll find it. Here you can update your information. Little tip: if you enter your cell number the system will allow you to set reminders delivered by text, instead of email, which can be very handy.

Take a moment here to sync your calendar: with a few clicks, our appointments, current AND future, will automatically appear in your calendar of choice.

And that’s the gist–what everything is and where to find it. If you need more information about a particular thing, you can click the nearby lightbulb icon, and a help article will pop right up.

Looping back to what I said earlier about you getting what you came for: having me as your coach means getting MORE than just our sessions. This portal is how we’re going to capture the gems from the conversations we’ll be having, and turn them into an actionable plan. It’s how I’m going to be in touch and have your back between sessions. And you’re going to see the progress and results unfold right here as we go.

If you haven’t already, go schedule your next appointment with me. I’m excited to talk with you and get going in earnest.

Recording the Video

You’re of course welcome to record the video however you like. However, since we’ve gotten a handful of questions about the “how” of it, here are a few resources:

  • Zoom. CoachAccountable integrates with Zoom for your coaching meetings, so if you’re already a Zoom enthusiast this might be a great fit. Just start a new meeting (you can do this by yourself), share your screen, then record. We use Zoom for our webinars, so we’re fans.
  • Loom. We use Loom ourselves – if you’ve ever emailed support@coachaccountable.com and received a video in return, it’s likely from Loom. You can record your face, your screen, or both.
  • Your device’s built-in recording. Most devices now come with a way to capture video from your screen, and even edit it afterward.

And that’s it! May the welcome screencast serve you and your clients well in acclimating them to the system.