By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Offices with the best environment are those where the employees want to work together to share their skills. This kind of collaborative spirit makes the environment productive for everyone involved. It stimulates both personal growth and organizational growth. It’s just a nice and friendly way to grow accountability and mutual respect between employees. This is why it’s a great practice to instill amongst team members in a remotely distributed group as well.

How do you recognize whether peer coaching is for your organization? Let’s explore its meaning, who it’s useful for, and what its benefits are for a remotely distributed team.

What is peer coaching?

Peer coaching involves employees giving and getting constructive feedback from each other. These are trusted people who have interacted professionally, therefore they have the relevant experience to share such feedback. A succinct definition for the same is as follows.

Peer coaching is a confidential process through which two or more colleagues work together to reflect on current practices; expand, refine, and build new skills; share ideas; teach one another; conduct classroom research; or solve problems in the workplace” – Robbins, 1991

Peer coaching refers to colleagues working together to reflect on each other’s capabilities and skills. It allows them to collaborate, build new skills, and teach one another. The third aspect of peer coaching involves employees solving workplace problems as a team. 

Who is it useful for?

According to the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, “Peer coaching is used in a variety of environments, including collegiate and professional athletics, nursing, physiotherapy, and education. In the field of management and organizational behavior, peer coaching is a relatively new form of coaching that’s gaining recognition and respect due to its positive outcomes and cost-effective nature.” 

We can derive from this that many organizations stand to benefit from peer coaching. 

Remotely distributed teams can gain the most from peer coaching. It can be a good solution when the physical and geographical barriers of remote working are a disadvantage. Lack of constant interaction, team-building opportunities, and low motivation are some issues that come to mind. 

Let’s explore the main benefits of this style of collaborative coaching.

Benefits of Peer Coaching for Remote Distribution Teams

Accountability

The main advantage of peer coaching is building accountability within employees. In this setup, it can be difficult to create a sense of responsibility and accountability when people are not physically around each other. Peer coaching establishes a connection between the employees. It also forms a channel between them and the company. This encourages them to be accountable to each other and the company as well.

Builds Leadership Skills 

Peer coaching helps build leadership skills in two ways. First of all, it gives employees the chance to learn how to give constructive feedback. It aids them in learning not to shy away from pointing out flaws or highlighting strengths. These are important leadership and management skills. The second way is by allowing colleagues to watch and learn from each other. In a conventional office environment, it’s easy to watch leaders and imitate their behavior or learn from them. One-on-one coaching such as this creates a similar opportunity between colleagues in a remote working environment, which they might otherwise miss out on.

Accelerated Learning 

According to a 2019 Workday-Bloomberg survey, organizations are 42% more interested in building skills that improve bench strength, grow the next generation of leaders, and effectively compete in the future of work. These are crucial to building a good rapport with customers and colleagues both. When one receives a continuous feedback loop, their self-reflection increases. It’s only natural that one would take measures to improve themselves based on the information they’re receiving. Therefore, learning becomes faster than ever. 

When employees work remotely, there is little to no incentive for them to pick up new skills. Peer coaching gives them the motivation and encouragement to do so. It also gives them the chance to learn from people they have built a rapport with.

Helps in Personal Development

While there may not be a coach physically present, a continuous feedback loop compensates for that. This includes questions that investigate many deep and underlying behavioral motivators. Topics such as personal growth, learning, mindset mastery, and overall motivation are covered. Probing of this nature can transform the individual in such a way that professional development morphs into overall personal improvement. 

Fosters Teamwork 

When colleagues are physically situated far apart, it’s close to impossible for them to create a sense of camaraderie. There are no shared tea breaks and the like when it comes to remote work. But peer coaching creates an opportunity for employees to get to know each other better. It takes it five steps ahead by allowing frank communication about each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. This leads to creating a strong sense of trust, spurring on teamwork, and improves the quality of group projects overall.

Gives Fresh Perspectives

Employees are bound to create fresh perspectives when they exchange information and communicate with each other. If there are individuals situated in different cities or even countries, the chances of learning new things are even higher. Not only is this refreshing, but it’s also exciting.

Practice and Reflection

Such programs give employees the chance to ponder over their place in life. They’ll be compelled to analyze where they would like to fit into the corporate structure, and how they want to grow in their careers. Additionally, they get a partner to discuss these complex thoughts with. This helps guide them to create actionable plans to reach their professional and personal goals.

Peer coaching for remotely distributed teams also creates a way to objectively assess an individual’s skill. Since they are going to be measuring each other on certain parameters – it becomes easy to give points or scores to specific skill areas. 

Remotely distributed teams miss out on the benefits of face-to-face interactions between colleagues. Peer coaching helps them bridge those communication and leadership gaps. It creates accountability and a sense of team spirit. It also helps in measuring and tracking an employee’s skill sets. This will help them grow both professionally and personally. 

NumlyEngage is an AI-Enhanced peer coaching platform that enables organizations to

  • Let employees coach each other on a wide range of hard and soft skills
  • Identify, attract and retain top talent
  • Improve overall employee performance and productivity

Get a live demo to discover how NumlyEngage™ can help you.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

The COVID-19 pandemic broke through the technological and cultural barriers that prevented remote working and Work From Home in the past and has introduced a structural shift in where work happens. With social-distancing, quarantines, and even self-isolation pushing tens of thousands of people to work from home, the pandemic simply accelerated the workplace experiment that previously struggled to gain traction.

The benefits and challenges of remote working became clearer once we went deep into the pandemic. The learnings are quite clear – while office-based collaboration continues to remain important, it is becoming increasingly clear that remote work is here to stay. A recent Gartner poll revealed that 90% of HR leaders concur that employees would be allowed to work remotely even after COVID vaccines are available. While employees might have settled into this remote work setup and organizations have made extensive sets of technology and collaborative tools available, the workforce needs more support from the organization. 

Now, as people return to work gradually as economies reopen, we see hybrid models of remote work gaining traction.

However, there are some challenges that come with this remote setup. Research shows:  

  • Mental wellbeing is a concern with work-from-home burnout becoming a tangible reality. This makes emotional support and enablement at work valuable
  • Employees are concerned about work-life balance and productivity
  • Employees need more help with productivity and engagement
  • Employee experience surveys are dated, and employees want more open conversations to address their specific (new) needs
  • There is an explosive demand for online learning as employees look for resources to settle and succeed in the new normal

A closer look shows that these issues and challenges have a direct impact on employee engagement. Along with technology tools to bolster collaboration, it also becomes imperative that organizations have new-age coaching strategies in place to enable the employees to help them stay engaged and productive. 

Here are a few areas that organizations should focus on while revamping their coaching strategies:

Identify and alleviate work-from-home burnout

Research supports the fact that employee burnout levels in 2020 have remained consistently high, with 69% of the workforce experiencing burnout symptoms. Stress, financial anxiety, and the ‘living at work’ feeling are the most obvious contributors. Anxiety regarding career paths and growth trajectories, feelings of isolation, difficulties in communication, lack of visibility, or video fatigue (yes, those incessant zoom calls can be exhausting) have all contributed to employee burnout.

Concerns regarding perception in a world that promotes ‘survival of the fittest’ go against mental wellbeing and contribute heavily towards burnout. Organizations thus need to have the right tools in place to identify concerns that lead to burning out.

Coaching can play a pivotal role to help employees manage their work and help them develop a new vocabulary fit for this remote world of work. With coaching, employees can internalize the new rules of engagement and learn how to be visible, impactful, focused, and energetic.

Coach to drive work-life-balance

Work-life balance has taken a big hit owing to the pandemic. Most employees across organizations are struggling to establish boundaries between work and their personal lives. While work-from-home might have offered a break from the commute, office environments, and regular daily routines, it has completely dismissed the mental break needed from work and technology.

A barrage of video meetings, constant ping of the email, excessive screen time, and a less than optimal work environment can significantly increase stress and burnout levels. 

Coaching can be the antidote to burnout as coach-learner relationships are open and continuous in nature. The coach can help the learner identify their stress triggers, issues that impact work-life balance, and help them respond to these with clarity.

Coaching managers and leadership also drive work-life balance as it helps the leadership understand the challenges faced by the workforce better. Managers and leaders need to revamp their management strategies and make them fit this new world of work. Coaching can help managers and leaders build greater empathy and help them understand employee challenges and concerns. Armed with the right information, they can then build communication and collaboration strategies and help their workforce manage and maintain work-life- balance.

Read: Want to Create A Pipeline of Leaders? Train Managers to Become Better Coaches

Organizational coaches need coaching

Organizations not only have to focus on coaching their employees, but they also have to put in equal efforts to coach their coaches. With so much change disrupting the world of work, organizations have to evaluate their training and coaching strategies and give their coaches the right tools and information to build better engagement with the learners.

Read: How to Coach to Create Better Coaches

It is also important that organizations identify internal coaches from their workforce – people who have the qualities to hold space, exchange information, motivate and encourage peers and team members.

However, to get tangible results from this, organizations need to employ powerful AI-driven coaching platforms that make the right coach-learner pairing. It is equally important to identify behavioral and personality traits using behavior analysis or 16-personality factor assessment tests to identify potential coaches and their learning gaps to help them move along this path fruitfully.

The organization has changed – Establish a coaching culture

2021 is the year of strategic importance as organizations focus singularly to improve business outcomes. At the same time, business transformation, operational excellence, and skill development are essential to focus areas. 

Given the quantum of change and disruption, establishing an internal coaching culture becomes imperative to manage disruption and ease change management. Establishing such a culture helps all – employees, managers, and leadership – meet and adapt to the new rules in the world of work.

Using AI-driven coaching platforms becomes essential to create such a culture since then organizations can deliver contextual and relevant coaching programs to their workforce. Relevance and context play in as critical contributors owing to the rise of the millennials and Gen Z in the workforce who are motivated by these factors.  

Build resilience

Organizational resilience is the capacity of an organization to anticipate, prepare, respond and adapt to sudden disruptions or incremental change.

Organizational resilience is directly linked to employee resilience. Enabling employees to identify robust growth plans, acknowledging and rewarding effort, and working towards delivering an enabling working environment contribute to resilience. Coaching also plays a critical role in driving resilience by helping employees identify and address factors that impact resilience.

Whether it is identifying avenues for technical skill development or critical skills like communication, empathy, collaboration, and others, coaching can play a pivotal role to enable the workforce and thereby drive resilience. Focusing on coaching to improve working relationships – between peers and managers also contributes to organizational resilience as it helps in building trust. Trust not only drives resilience but also has a direct impact on employee engagement and drives employees to do more for the organization.

In Conclusion

Old school strategies no longer suffice in a new age world. Organizations have to internalize the fact that disruption and change will only increase. The only way to stay ahead of the curve in the face of uncertainty and change is to prepare the workforce and develop them such that they are future-ready with the right skills, both technical and critical, and can ably lead the organization to success.

Connect with us to evaluate how an AI-powered coaching platform can drive new-age coaching strategies, enhance coaching conversations, and deliver tangible results.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Remember the time when Artificial Intelligence was just a futuristic technology meant to be movie material? Today, AI is a mainstream technology driving almost all online interactions. As AI-driven everything becomes an enterprise staple, it becomes natural to extend the power of this technology to the learning and development department to drive powerful and contextual initiatives that deliver tangible results.

Here are a few reasons why AI is the future of coaching

Battle Information asymmetry

Until recently, coaches have worked on the principle of information asymmetry – a place where they have more information than the learners. However, the world of work is no longer holding the same avatar as a decade back. The enterprise is now a living, breathing organism that is evolving each day…and with this, its needs are evolving and changing.

Given the market forces and disruption at play, the rise of the remote workforce, gig economy and distributed teams, and rising competition, information asymmetry has to reduce to drive better coaching outcomes.

While coaches will have better coaching information, that information has to be relevant and contextual to the learner. For this, it is as important to have accurate and precise information regarding the learner and clarity on their learning needs. 

At the same time, the learners have to be aware of where their learning and coaching needs lie, how these efforts translate into progress, and how that helps them progress in their job roles.

AI-enabled coaching platforms help battle this information asymmetry by providing deep and accurate insights that help build a better understanding of how to drive coaching outcomes. They can help organizations drive phenomenal business results by identifying accurate coaching needs and powering better coaching conversations.  

Smart coach-learner pairing

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.

While this is a good philosophy to go by, in the enterprise context this doesn’t hold water. 

With constant change becoming a staple, enterprises need to increase their agility and flexibility to adapt to change. The role of critical skills such as communication and collaboration are also becoming more pronounced owing to the rise of remote working. 

A sharp focus on reskilling, upskilling, and associated learning and development activities become natural outcomes of this climate of change. However, to drive elevated coaching outcomes, it is imperative to have the right coach-learner pairing. After all, this determines the quality of coaching conversations.

Read: Power your Upskilling Initiatives with Coaching

While organizations realize the importance of the right coach-learner pairing, many still rely on archaic guesswork to enable this. Unless the pairing is right, the learning interactions and the engagement is not going to be impactful and will be unable to drive powerful results.

An AI-enabled platform alleviates this concern and makes it easier for organizations to drive transformational coaching programs. Such a platform uses advanced technology to make the right coach-learner pairings taking the learning needs and other variables at play. This approach makes it possible for enterprises to pair the right coach with the right learner, and make sure that enablement reaches their workforce when they need it.

Build a thriving internal coaching culture

The number one HR priority for most organizations this year is to create an internal coaching culture to drive organizational and employee agility. Skill development initiatives have to become more future-focused and dynamic. These initiatives have to ensure that employees develop the right skills at the right time and contribute to the development of a robust leadership pipeline.

Integrating coaching in the workplace culture is the only way to achieve goals while driving lasting change. However, to create the right coaching culture, enterprises have to replace guesswork with accurate data to identify the current and future needs of their workforce.

An AI-enabled coaching platform gives enterprises the capacity to identify potential coaches from their internal employees and assess their skill sets versus coaching needs. Using this knowledge, organizations can create an army of internal coaches and build a thriving internal coaching culture.

Drive performance management with coaching

The days of the end-of-year annual review are behind us. The millennials and Gen Z (the dominant workforce demographic) need timely and action-oriented feedback at regular intervals. Whether it is to identify performance gaps proactively or to identify new skill development opportunities to augment career paths, organizations now need to make feedback a proactive mechanism.

Read: Coaching Strategies for Millennials and Gen Z

Optimizing performance management systems to help accurately identify top performers and high potential employees are also organizational prerogatives. Data-backed insights into both technical and critical skill sets are essential to drive organizational outcomes by ensuring that employees are on the right upskilling, reskilling, or critical skill enhancement trajectory.  

An AI-enabled coaching platform helps to drive performance management with coaching and optimizes coaching interactions by providing timely and contextual nudges. The technology also gives organizations the insights they need to identify their high-potential employees and top performers and assess who should be moved into the leadership pipeline to make it more robust and vibrant.

Manage the diversity chasm

Organizations with diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35%. 

Diversity is the enabler of innovation and creativity and a factor that builds empathy into the teams’ fabric. To reap the benefits of diversity, these policies have to align directly with organizational goals.

Read: The Critical Piece to Drive Successful Enterprise Diversity Initiatives

However, strong coaching programs are essential to drive diversity initiatives and to make sure that they stick. For this, it is essential to make the right coach-learner pairing, assess where diversity initiatives are lacking, identify exact skill areas that employees need help with, and develop critical skills like empathy that link back directly to diversity.

But how do organizations make sure that they are not linking their diversity initiatives to become mere affinity programs within organizations? Employing an AI-enabled coaching platform can help organizations build their diversity initiatives by creating transformational relationships that elevate the intellect by addressing relevant and contextual concerns and challenges.

Finally, and perhaps, most importantly, an AI-driven coaching platform helps organizations build contextual and relevant coaching programs by providing clear insights into performance gaps. With clear insights, organizations can jumpstart relevant company-wide coaching programs, provide actionable insights into skills development, performance, employee engagement, and much more. With overall enterprise transformational insights, an AI-powered platform helps organizations proactively identify and add new skills to address their growing needs.

Connect with our team of experts to see how our AI-enabled coaching platform can help you drive better learning outcomes and power your employee engagement and employee experience initiatives.

From "Remote Boss" To "Virtual Leader" - How to Make the Transition

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Leadership is under fire. The rules that worked in the past seem broken as we move into a normal characterized by large scale remote working owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Leaders who thrived within the portals of traditional offices are having to navigate new territory. This unchartered territory of having to lead both virtually and remotely demands the emergence of a new leader – one who is no longer a ‘remote boss’ but is instead a ‘virtual leader’.

Read: How Has the Role of Leadership Changed with COVID-19?

Leadership during crisis 

When it comes to a crisis, most assume that what a leader must deliver is a robust response plan. While this is true, what happens when a crisis continues? 

We saw how COVID-19 upended the world of work, turned the economy upside down, and ballooned into a crisis of an unprecedented scale. In these times, instead of looking for predefined response plans, leaders need to develop their mindsets and behaviors that will help them look ahead and adapt. And while leaders might come under undue pressure from stakeholders and might need to come up with strategies to alleviate the financial implications of the pandemic, they need to focus on developing their empathy so that these pressures do not get placed on their employees. 

During crisis and uncertain times, compassion and empathy are two invaluable traits for leaders to develop since it is the job of the leader to placate the fears of their employees.

As the dust begins to settle on the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the workforce adapts to their remote work setting, leaders have to make sure that they not only ensure business continuity but also drive engagement and performance of their workforce. 

Leadership has to move from its traditional avatar where the leader was the boss. Consequently, leadership styles also have to move from the traditional direction-driven style and adopt a more guidance-driven approach – one that is focused on guiding employees to excel by enabling and facilitation. 

The biggest reset in the role of the leader is perhaps the shift from a ‘command and control’ approach to one that ‘inspires and coaches’. 

Leaders have to quickly adapt to new leadership styles to remain effective in this new world of work. Quite naturally this demands a shift from being the conventional and traditional boss to becoming leaders who enable and empower. 

Virtual leaders thus need to be more empathetic and greater at communicating with their employees. They need to capably guide, develop, empower, enable, and coach their teams to build authentic connections.

Leaders are now coaches

In the post-COVID world, leaders will not only have to give direction and purpose to the organization but have to also coach the employees to adapt to this new world of work. 

  • Coach to build shared purpose: Along with ensuring that the employees are achieving their goals, they have to assume the responsibility to drive employee wellbeing and drive a feeling of ‘shared purpose’. It is only when employees connect with the shared purpose that they become more invested in the organization’s growth story. And it is when employees resonate with this shared purpose that they put in discretionary effort – it is this effort that shows the quality of your employee engagement levels. 
  • Coach to develop the leadership pipeline: One of the key responsibilities of leaders is that of creating a robust leadership and succession pipeline. In the absence of physical connections, leaders also have to now become actively invested in coaching their employees to move further along their career paths. 

In this virtual setting, leaders have to also ensure that this pipeline is filled with the right candidates. In this new normal, leaders have to now leverage data to identify the right candidates to plug into the pipeline. While the high-performing employees do rank higher in the eligibility criteria, leaders have to dig deeper and assess if they have the skills to lead. Leveraging tests like 16-Personality Factor tests or behavioral skills assessments, leaders can gain insights into the skill gaps and give them the tools to navigate the chasm via coaching.

  • Coach to become self-motivated and action-oriented: In this virtual environment, leaders also have to coach employees to map expectations and outcomes. Helping employees to look at the big picture, understanding how they contribute to this picture and how they make a difference helps the employees remain motivated and connected with the organization. 

Unlike a physical office where news on the latest developments gets around easily, in remote environments, leaders have to help employees understand and manage their goals and expectations and help them become more action-oriented instead of instruction-driven.

  • Coach to drive agility and responsiveness to change: Leaders have to coach their teams to become more agile to change and drive adaptability as they settle into this new world of work. Empowering them with the right tools, technologies, platforms, and coaching resources will play an important role in driving engagement and consequent organizational success. They need to help employees devise ways to become more visible, help them drive impactful work, and ensure their career progression. 
  • Coach to make the workforce more independent: Leaders have to coach employees and team members to improve their planning and communication skills to ensure the right expectation setting. For this, helping remote workers identify the correct mechanisms to set the right deadlines, margins and expectations go a long way to make the workforce more independent in their work without resorting to micromanaging. Helping employees become better decision-makers gives them more autonomy in their work.

Leaders need coaching to coach right 

Even a cursory glance at the above makes it clear that leaders now need to develop a new vocabulary – one that is authentic and is rooted in empathy. Organizations thus need to take a close look at their leadership coaching strategies so that leaders can foster employee and organizational growth by helping their teams manage their work better. 

Read: Want to Create A Pipeline of Leaders? Train Managers to Become Better Coaches

Day-long leadership coaching sessions are unlikely to help leaders, especially because the rules of the game have changed completely. Virtual leaders need to focus on driving authenticity. They need to become more observant, trusting, caring, and empathetic in their leadership styles and build the right connections with their employees. To achieve all this, there has to be a change in the mindsets and behaviors of leaders. 

As leaders also become coaches to their teams, they have to learn to communicate more clearly and with empathy. They have to demonstrate that they are not only interested in employee performance but are equally invested in employee well-being. This brand of leadership becomes all the more essential as in a remote setting, leaders have to guide work relationships with clarity so that others are inspired to become deeply invested in their work. 

One of the most important things virtual leaders have to build is trust. They can build and enjoy this trust when they learn to trust themselves. Hence, they have to learn to let go of the art of micromanaging and inspiring the team to become more accountable towards their work. Along with this, leaders have to adopt a growth mindset and enable the same for their employees. They also have to learn new methods to individualize interactions and empower employees to work with autonomy to drive accountability and ownership in a virtual setting. 

It is thus essential to coach leaders to mobilize their existing environments to enable new competencies in their workforce by using data. They have to develop their emotional intelligence to build resilient teams. Leaders also have to be coached to drive a sense of shared purpose across the organization’s value chain and become more authentic and intentional in their leadership styles. 

Connect with us to evaluate how our AI-powered coaching platform can help your organization leaders prepare to lead the workforce in the new world of work and develop their leadership vocabulary to lead the employees and the organization to success. 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

“Disruption”- If 2020 were a word, this would be it. 

The COVID-19 pandemic managed to disrupt our entire existence. Today we have a vast majority of people working remotely, self-isolating, and trying to navigate professional lives while managing screaming kids and home-schooling in the background. 

The personal and professional lives of the workforce have been turned upside down. At times like these where uncertainty reigns large, coaching can provide the support to help the workforce stay on track, remain productive, and tackle anxiety and fears of the future.  

Coaching is a critical piece of the puzzle that helps organizations help their workforce adapt to such changing times and a challenging business environment. And while previously coaching was a one-on-one session, the demand of the time is for coaching to get creative and adapt to this new virtual world. 

Why does coaching have to become an organizational priority?

Coaching is a strategy that plays a pivotal role in ensuring retention, building organizational commitment, and keeping the workforce motivated and engaged. During a crisis, such as the one we are experiencing currently, coaching can be that silver bullet that will help the workforce navigate these treacherous times with confidence. 

Organizations focusing on coaching the workforce to help them navigate this new world of work also benefit greatly. This investment in the workforce drives the retention of high-potential talent and can enable better post-pandemic succession and leadership planning. 

Today, when morals are low and fear looms large, coaching employees helps them see the organizational investment in their growth. Coaching helps them not only see the light at the end of the tunnel but also motivates them to find that light if they can’t see it. Coaching is a ‘growth-fostering’ interaction and bolsters an individual’s professional and personal growth and in turn models loyalty and commitment. 

Adapting coaching to this new world of work 

Most coaching relationships in the past have been personal, one-on-one, in-person interactions. The new rules of engagement now make this almost impossible. 

While good evidence suggests that virtual coaching yields almost the same benefits and equivalent outcomes as good old physical one, to yield the best outcomes, organizations have to attend to the following: 

  • A platform to build connections

Technology comes to the rescue to help coaching adapt to this remote world of work. To build strong connections, organizations need access to a robust AI-driven coaching platform offering a range of broad functionalities. 

The platform can capably provide a comprehensive catalog of both hard and soft skills that are tailored into programs for key enterprise functions. It can also be employed to capably connect the right coach to the right employee, and allow skill-specific pairings, feedback, and analytical insights to fine-tune and create robust coaching programs. 

The platform should also provide the flexibility to customize and add the skills needed for key enterprise functions and should be easy to set up and execute. The employees also should be able to connect with both internal and external coaches to meet their coaching needs. 

  • Drive better coaching conversations

Coaching is all about building connections. This becomes the greatest hurdle to cross when we move from the physical to the virtual format. The quality of coaching conversations has to get better as disruption and commotion envelop the world of work. Coaches have to drive elevated coaching conversations by understanding the exact needs of the person being coached, designing conversations that are goal-related, and solve problems. 

Great coaching conversations are more about ‘asking’ rather than ‘talking’. It is about igniting curiosity, guiding and providing direction rather than spoon-feeding ready-made answers. It is about helping employees learn to seek answers by helping them identify roadblocks and take the right steps to move along their growth paths in this new world of work. 

  • Keep things contextual and relevant 

Coaching in the age of social distancing demands for it to become more focused, contextual, and relevant than ever before. Leveraging AI and advanced analytics, coaching can drive context and relevance by helping organizations identify their high-potential employees and the right coaching competencies. 

By using AI, organizations can discover what kind of coaching programs their employees need by analyzing present and historical data. AI-enabled coaching platforms make it easier to identify topics of relevance and help coaches drive better coaching outcomes. Employing detailed self-assessment tests also helps in driving context and relevance by providing data-driven feedback on their strengths and areas of improvement leading to improved quality of interactions.

  • Coaching has to leverage data 

The new virtual environment also demands a change in the feedback format for coaching relationships to deliver greater value. For this, coaching engagements have to be more focused and interactions have to become richer. 

Self-scoring, peer rating, coach feedback, etc. are important touchpoints and ensure continuous learning progress. Additionally, feedback also has to be highly personalized, contextual, and timely. 

A robust AI-driven coaching platform helps organizations provide personalized, contextual AI bot nurture touch points to address each individual’s skill gap while understanding their unique learning process. Actionable insights from rich analytics on skills development, performance, employee engagement, enterprise transformation insights, etc. further make feedback more data-driven and consequently help to make coaching interactions more impactful. 

  • Feature-rich and compatible 

The new world of work has introduced new complexities and challenges for the workforce. From battling work-from-home burnout to defining a growth strategy for their professional careers, organizations need to rework many things as the world becomes virtual and social distancing defines our new work environment. 

It is essential to have a technology-driven coaching platform that allows organizations to add coaching programs according to the skillset needs and also enable rich-integrations with third-party learning content. And keeping in step with the virtual world, the coaching platform should operate in a device-agnostic manner to enable anywhere-anytime coaching. 

In Conclusion 

In today’s uncertain times, coaching not only helps career functions but also plays a great role in driving psychosocial functions of empathy. Coaching involves a deliberate expression of care and reflects emotional support….something that employees across the globe, irrespective of their position, need. 

The only difference between coaching now and then is the increased reliance on technology and ensuring the right technology investments to ensure robust coaching outcomes. 

Connect with us to see how a technology coaching platform powered by AI like NumlyEngage™ can drive successful and highly productive coaching initiatives. 

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

As rapid change and disruption become the norm, what succeeded in the past can no longer serve as a guide to what will lead to success in the future. 

In the recent past, a successful career trajectory started with acquiring and developing expertise in a technical or functional domain. Having the right answers qualified as a barometer of a job well done and would be enough to rise up the ladder. 

‘Command and control’ were the mantra to lead.

However, with the business landscape becoming more competitive, complex, and disruptive, managers and leaders cannot have all the right answers at all times. The new reality demands a shift away from the traditional command-and-control practice to one that is nurturing and provides guidance and consequently helps employees adapt to changing environments with vigor, energy, and commitment.

With the pandemic upending the world of work, bringing in further disruption and new work models, organizations have to accelerate their coaching initiatives to keep employees engaged, prevent work-from-home burnout, and manage change capably while remaining productive. 

Given that the pandemic has canceled all face-to-face meetings and team off-sites, navigating competing priorities demands organizations to increase their coaching capabilities especially as Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA) become an indelible part of our new reality. If we look closely, the role of leaders and managers is becoming that of a coach.

Read: Want to Create A Pipeline of Leaders? Train Managers to Become Better Coaches

As volatility and change become our new constants, organizations have to help their workforce (both managers and employees) navigate their challenges and provide them the right support proactively. Coaching becomes a venerable tool to provide the guidance needed to navigate the new normal and battle change. Coaching is also an effective tool to drive competencies since it is a collaborative and continuous process and focuses on providing guidance by helping others experience their situation from a different and, often, a new perspective. 

While organizations do realize the importance of coaching, what can they do to create better coaches? The answer lies in coaching itself.

One size does not fit all

Coaching conversations have to be individualized and contextual. For coaching to be effective, it has to be compelling to drive change. To enable this, organizations have to identify where employees, managers, and leaders need coaching. 

For employees who have become managers in the pandemic, for example, coaching can be immensely helpful by giving them guidance on how to manage a remote team effectively. By leveraging data-driven assessments, organizations can identify performance gaps – both technical or behavioral, and create contextual coaching plans that give results.

Read: The Why and How of Coaching for your Newly-Remote Team

Coach the coaches

Given the rising importance of coaching, many organizations have internal coaching teams. However, with the changing dynamics in the workplace, these coaches need to hone their coaching skills further to capably guide the workforce. 

Good coaches drive positive learning experiences. But good coaching demands authenticity, and authenticity comes from knowledge. It is imperative to ensure that coaches keep improving and increasing their coaching repertoire by upgrading their knowledge base, for which they need coaching as well.

Develop your coaching pipeline

Just like how organizations are focused on developing a healthy leadership pipeline, it is equally important to develop a healthy pipeline of coaches as well. This is so because managers leading teams also have to lead engagement, performance, productivity, and engagement of their team members. Managers, hence, are coaches in their own right. 

Read: Want to Create A Pipeline of Leaders? Train Managers to Become Better Coaches

Managers are change agents. Identifying those who can build intentional relationships that drive team confidence and competence can be immensely beneficial for organizations.

Some managers are natural coaches. Despite this, coaching them to become more empathetic, improving problem-solving skills, developing better communication and guidance skills, etc., only helps them become better coaches and ultimately better leaders.

Research shows that among the critical skills that employers look for, coaching is the hardest to recruit. 

By identifying managers who have the potential to become good coaches, helping them develop a coaching approach to leadership, and helping them develop or improve the coaching effectiveness enhances the overall coaching effectiveness of the organization. 

Create the right coaching conversations

Facts have to replace feelings when it comes to driving better coaching conversations. 

When organizations want to develop effective coaches, the feedback has to be rooted in data. Whether it is soft (power skills) or hardcore technical skills, coaching conversations have to be driven by rich analytics.

Leveraging coaching platforms driven by AI and Machine Learning can not only connect the right coach to the right mentee but also provide intelligent, contextual and personalized, and impartial feedback as well as timely notifications and alerts and improve learning interactions. This approach also helps in enhancing coaching effectiveness by providing coaches with the feedback they need to reframe thinking or their guidance pattern to make coaching more effective.

In today’s day of VUCA, coaching has to become a culture within the organization rather than remain as a ‘self-help’ strategy that senior-level executives adopt to improve themselves. When coaching becomes an integral part of professional development at all corporate levels, it becomes an indispensable part of the organizational strategy and business philosophy. Effective leaders, productive and engaged teams, and positive business outcomes then become organic consequences of these efforts.

You can improve employee performance and employee engagement through people connections, internal coaching, and skills development. Connect with us to know more.