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.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

If 2020 was a test of resilience, the year ahead is going to be a test of growth in the face of adversity. 

As the world and global markets gradually resume the journey back to normalcy, organizations have to put on their thinking caps and identify growth strategies that will help them bounce back from the 2020-infused business and profit doldrum. 

For HR leaders, the year ahead is a crucial one – HR strategies have to build resilience into the organizational DNA and create a culture that enables, empowers, and drives organizational and employee agility.

2021 – A year of strategic importance

Building critical skills and competencies are going to be of strategic importance in the coming year. 

  • From improving business results, executing business transformation, and achieving operational excellence, HR has to design strategic initiatives that will help in achieving these outcomes. 
  • Along with this, skill development initiatives have to also become dynamic and future-forward to match the pace of change and ensure that employees accrue the right skills that benefit the organization tangibly. 
  • Additionally, addressing change fatigue and identifying factors that lead to work friction becomes essential as work from home burnout becomes an unignorable reality. 
  • HR strategies have to be focused on building a robust leadership pipeline by focusing heavily on diversity initiatives and recalibrating leadership training programs. The tumultuous past year and the overhaul it has brought about in the world of work demands that leadership coaching is relevant to meet the needs of the COVID era. 

Even a cursory glance at this list makes it clear that HR has a tall order to fill. However, the cure to most of the ills plaguing the organization (and consequently HR) lies with coaching. And while organizations can leverage external coaches to drive their coaching initiatives, creating an internal coaching culture becomes imperative to drive sustainable change.  

Why do organizations need an internal coaching culture?

Coaching is more than an antidote for fixing performance issues or a perk to attract and retain employees. 

Many organizations are turning to coaching to develop a more robust leadership pipeline, develop managers who can also function as coaches and guide their team members, and help employees navigate and develop their career paths. 

Coaching has also emerged as a viable alternative to close the skills gaps, the labor shortage, and low productivity chasm – especially as VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) demands organizations, and hence employees, to become more agile than ever before. 

But how can organizations create an internal coaching culture? The devil here lies in the details. 

  • Coaching has to be integrated into the workplace culture 

The primary objective of coaching is to drive lasting change. Coaching can achieve this lasting change because it is continuous, enhances skills, and enables behavioral change. 

To create the right coaching culture, it is essential to integrate it into the workplace culture so that the organization and employees can proactively identify challenges and opportunities for growth and have robust development-oriented, relevant coaching conversations. 

  • Eliminate guesswork and replace it with data

HR teams have to improve their capability and pace to map skill requirements with skill development initiatives. Banking on the end-of-the-year assessment or review to identify skilling, reskilling or upskilling needs of the workforce is a reactive strategy that can no longer contribute to organizational agility. 

HR has to focus on adopting a more proactive approach that helps the organization become more responsive to change. 

According to Gartner TalentNeuron™ data, “the total number of skills required for a single job is increasing by 10% year over year, and one-third of the skills present in an average 2017 job posting won’t be needed by 2021.”

However, to achieve this, HR has to move away from the traditional approach that employs guesswork to identify workforce needs. They, instead, have to adopt more data-backed strategies that proactively identify the current needs of the employees and ensure that the skill gap is duly closed by aligning skill development initiatives with organizational goals. 

Creating such an internal coaching culture demands that organizations use tests and assessments such as the 16 Personality Factor Tests, behavioral skill development tests, and the like, which can help organizations identify the exact coaching needs of the employees and replace the guesswork with data. 

  • Develop an army of internal coaches

Creating an internal coaching culture demands developing an army of internal coaches. Identifying high-potential employees who are interested in coaching their peers is a good starting point. 

Managers can contribute heavily to coaching, especially since they are well aware of team dynamics, where their business unit needs help, and where employees need coaching. However, they have to master the art of coaching as well so that they can coach effectively and build healthy mentor-mentee relationships. 

Organizations can also look at subject matter experts to contribute to coaching initiatives. 

Identifying these potential coaches, assessing which skills, they are lacking, and which skills they need to develop to coach effectively can help organizations develop their army of coaches. Complemented with external coaches, such an ecosystem can create a vibrant coaching culture and blend it into the organizational DNA. 

  • Embed coaching into talent and performance management 

The COVID crisis has dramatically impacted goals and employee performance plans. Remote work is becoming the norm. Performance and talent management are becoming a steep climb, especially as business leaders feel that performance management systems are not accurately helping them identify top performers. 

While the annual performance review had been an acting barometer until recently, today, waiting it out till the end of the year can only lead to frustrated talent. While the annual performance review does hold merit, complementing it with regular coaching delivers better outcomes as feedback is constructive and continuous. 

Technology has also made it possible to provide AI-powered nudges to make learning and development more holistic, relevant, contextual, and consequently, impactful. 

In Conclusion 

Organizational structures are becoming flatter and yet, more complex and employees are working with, interacting, and collaborating with more people. 

New work models that were in the testing phase (such as fully collocated, alternating on-site, on-site on-demand, connected remote, work from anywhere models) are all now mainstays. The digital nomads, the new age white-collar workers, are also an integral part of the enterprise today. 

With so much changed, HR has no alternative but to tap into technology to help the workforce stay connected, engaged, and enthused. As the organization and the needs of the employees evolve, HR has to drive the paradigm shift and work towards cementing an internal coaching culture. 

When all leaders, managers, high-potential employees, and subject matter experts become coaches, helping the rest of the workforce move along their career paths, ensuring productivity, profitability, and organizational agility become achievable goals. 

It is time to proactively address the development needs of the workforce and keep the organization moving northwards towards better outcomes. 

Connect with our team of experts and see how employing an AI-powered technology platform can help your organization build a robust internal coaching culture to drive enablement at work.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”. 

If organizations know that investing in one thing could increase employee productivity by 200%, wouldn’t they do it? So, what is this magic bullet that delivers such a productivity wave? The answer rests with ‘training’. 

It is no surprise that employee development initiatives like training are becoming an essential arsenal in the HR ammunition box. 

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Companies investing in training and development have a 218% higher income per employee and a 24% higher profit margin than companies without formal training programs. 

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If this is the case, then shouldn’t establishing a training program be enough to drive organizational success? If yes, then why do so many training programs fail?

Do your employees need training or coaching? 

There is a subtle difference between training and coaching. 

While training is focused on knowledge transfer, coaching is about enhancing skills and knowledge. Let’s take culinary skills as an example. Basic culinary skills can act as a foundation on which we layer general training to learn how to bake the perfect cheesecake. But not all cheesecakes are created equal. And the more you train to make the cheesecake, the better you will get at it. So, a person is taught the essentials needed to bake an acceptable cheesecake over a period of time. 

But what happens when this training is complemented with coaching from a veteran baker? Not only will the person learn to make the best cheesecake but will also learn the tips, tricks, and secrets that take a cheesecake from ‘ok’ to ‘oh wow!’

Training, owing to its basic structure, attempts to ensure that learners will remember the knowledge and apply it. 

But humans usually have very short attention spans. As such, day-long training programs usually fail to make an impact simply because humans don’t remember very well

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70% of new information gleaned from a training program is lost within a day. People forget 50% of the information received from a presentation within an hour!

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With organizations investing billions on training each year, these numbers don’t evoke much confidence. It almost seems like pouring water into a pot that has a hole in it. 

The only way to plug this hole is by coaching since coaching helps to overcome the forgetting curve by ensuring information is repeated at intervals to strengthen and reconstruct memory.  

Why coaching works 

Coaching brings about sustained change because of its very nature. 

Coaching conversations are continuous and, hence, more impactful. 

Coaching is a focused effort and helps employees with the tools they need to navigate their work successfully. The relationship between the coach and the coached (the Jedi) is development-oriented and helps employees identify challenges and opportunities for career growth.

Training could use a little help

HR departments globally are now under pressure to increase the impact of their training initiatives. However, it is myopic to look at training as an activity to just navigate the skills gap. 

Reskilling and upskilling initiatives have become organizational prerogatives. Yes, training can help your employees increase their technical skills knowledge. But the effectiveness of the training program rests on how the knowledge is ‘applied’. 

Technical or any hard skills training can be called successful when employees use this knowledge. They will only be compelled to remember what they learn and apply it when they understand how these skills impact them personally, professionally, and the impact it makes on the organization. 

Clearly, training needs to be complemented with coaching to ensure that organizations are filling their leadership pipeline with employees who have sound technical skills complementing their power skills. Hard skills training is not sufficient to ensure that employees develop the right skills to become forward-thinking, progressive leaders who take the organization further down the path to success.

The objective of all training programs is to ensure that the organization is future-ready, capable, productive, and agile to battle out today’s competitive landscape. And coaching can help an organization develop employees who are not only proficient in their technical skills but also have the capacity to lead the organization on the said path of being future-ready.

Coaching – this is the way the cookie crumbles

Coaching is the silver bullet that helps all the parties invested in it. 

Coaching the managers can lead to high-performing teams since coaching helps managers understand why and how to lead by example. It helps build their EQ, resilience, strategic and critical thinking skills and helps them become better team leaders.

Also Read: If You Want to Win the War for Talent, You Must Train Your Managers to Lead

The employees obviously benefit from coaching – be it for hard or power skills. 

  • Coaching is a continuous process and is directed to bring about behavioral change.
  • It is heavily focused on how learning is not only acquired but also how it is ‘implemented’. 
  • Coaching does not stop when the presentation ends. It stops when the ‘learning’ from the same has been internalized. 
  • High motivation and productivity are by-products of good coaching.

The organization naturally benefits from robust coaching practices since its managers and leaders have the coveted balance of technical and power skills needed to lead the organization towards success. 

Highly engaged employees and elevated levels of employee experience influence people to become more invested and put in discretionary effort. High productivity levels and greater innovation capacity come as a result of the same. A higher ROI on training efforts and a positive impact on the bottom line are the natural outcomes of coaching.

It’s time to modernize coaching 

A one-size-fits-all approach never worked for anything, and it does not work for coaching as well. 

HR departments need coaching programs that improve productivity and performance by reinforcing learning, extending eLearning, and increasing employee engagement. This becomes even more relevant as we delve deeper into the age of remote working or working from home. 

Basing coaching decisions on guesswork becomes counter-productive. In the age of personalization, organizations need to deliver personalized and skill-specific coaching continuously and iteratively. They also need to grow in-house skill sets to complement external coaches to increase their coaching footprint. How can they achieve this?

The answer lies in modern technology. Coaching has to be now modernized and the only way to do so is by leveraging an easy-to-use and comprehensive AI and Machine Learning enhanced AI platform such as NumlyEngage

It comes with custom program templates and rich engagement tools that help organizations identify skill gaps and pair Coaches and Jedi for each skill.  Built-in and customizable processes enhance coaching relationships. 

  • AI-enabled bot addresses individual skills gap and identifies their learning process. 
  • Through personalized, contextual ‘nurture actions’ help in increasing the efficiency of the coaching program. 
  • AI and Machine learning algorithms help to pair the right coach with the right Jedi, which contributes to better coaching outcomes.
  • With the data analytics capabilities, such a platform can assist organizations in understanding the effectiveness of their coaching programs, the outcomes, and the path to course correction by using actionable insights from rich analytics on employee engagement, performance management, and much more. 
  • HR teams can also benefit from the platform’s deep engagement insights to manage, develop, engage, and transform the entire employee experience. This becomes even more relevant as we are diving deeper into the age of remote working and distributed teams. 

There is immense pressure to ensure that employees, irrespective of their location, are engaged, motivated, and skilled to boost engagement and productivity. Organizations also need to keep their employees connected through shared values and ensure that they  are bound to the organization by common work principles and attitudes. 

Coaching is an effective way to drive engagement with today’s employees to make them feel connected and to help them remain engaged to contribute positively towards the organization’s health.

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

While calculating the value of an employee is a complex task since they are unlike any other asset, we are aware of the price tag on the loss of an employee. 

Studies show that replacing a key person in an organization costs between 70% to 200% of the individual’s compensation. Couple this with the rise of the purpose-driven employee, and we know that the employees today are not driven by salaries and fancy perks anymore. 

So, if pool tables and office parties no longer make the cut, how should organizations invest in their most valuable assets to ensure a healthy return on investment? This becomes even more pertinent in today’s day as we enter a new world of work, a world ushered in because of the COVID-19 pandemic where distributed teams and remote working are the new normal. 

Also Read: Annual Office Parties are NOT a Replacement for Purpose-Led Engagement for Women and Millennials

Navigate the productivity chasm

The battle with productivity is not a new one. Organizations have been focused on investing in their physical and technological and tools infrastructure to help employees remain productive at work. However, the need to be productive is also personal. While organizations have to focus on creating an enabling environment that fosters productivity, it also has to help employees understand what hinders their productivity. 

There is no singular productivity style. There is no universal productivity impediment that impacts every single person in an organization the same way. Since people are essentially different, organizations have to help their employees discover their productivity patterns and factors that impact and impede their productivity. They also have to give them access to skilled and experienced senior resources who can coach them through productivity challenges and become more invested, focused, planned, and methodical.  

Also Read: Engaged Employees Are Driven by Shared Values and Vision

Invest in personal growth 

The change in the workplace demographic has brought about a big change in what your employees care about and value. The millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, and for them, purpose trumps money. While salaries and perks remain attractive, these are gradually being seen as cosmetic perks. 

Studies show that employees who feel they are not growing in a company are 12 times more likely to leave. What the employees want is to see the organization invested in their personal growth.

How can organizations achieve this? Organizations have to become more focused on identifying high-performing individuals. However, what organizations have to do more is to invest in developing a ‘growth mindset’ – a mindset that believes that every individual has the potential for growth and greatness. Managers who have this mindset have more high-performing teams than managers who don’t. This is simply because people need someone to believe in them authentically. 

Authenticity does not come in the absence of clarity. Hence, all managers and leaders of the organization need granular insights into the skill sets of the employees. However, along with the technical skills, they need clarity into the behavior and power skills needs of their teams. Needless to say, this information has to be based on data and not the proverbial gut feel that many organizations have been (unsuccessfully) banking on. 

This helps in designing well-thought-out, clear, contextual, personalized, and relevant growth plans for employees, one that helps the organization develop individuals to fill the leadership pipeline with high-potential employees.

Foster a healthy and inclusive company culture 

It is the organizational culture that drives employee engagement and employee experience. 

If organizations want a productive and highly-engaged workforce, they have to create a company culture that supports that. Organizations have to become more intentional in building a healthy and inclusive work culture. 

Building such a work culture often demands looking at the unique needs of the workforce. It involves evaluating the diversity initiatives at hand as diversity and inclusiveness become essential cogs to build an authentic organization. It also demands organizations to do more than conducting day-long training sessions to educate the workforce on the challenges of their peers like women, minority communities, or seniors. 

To build such a work culture where equality, fairness, and empathy reign, organizations have to focus on building the EQ of the organization leaders. Coaching them to understand and feel the challenges and struggles of the workforce helps bring about meaningful change in their attitudes and beliefs. It also helps them draw policies and processes that create a more enabling and nurturing work environment that is characterized by its engaged and productive workforce. 

By making mentoring and coaching as a part of the culture-building exercise, organizations help employees also become more invested in their own growth story. These connections help them navigate the challenges of professional life and help them reach their professional and personal goals. 

High productivity, discretionary effort, and innovation then become by-products of these efforts, an automatic consequence.  

Also Read: The Mentoring Games and the Battlefield Called the Future of Work

In Conclusion

If we give a cursory glance at retention studies, it is easy to agree on what makes an employee stay in an organization – a chance to learn and grow, a healthy work environment, and recognition and respect. All of these falls under the ‘psychological ownership’ umbrella – and since psychological ownership is a behavioral trait, organizations have to focus on coaching and mentoring to bring about such behavioral change.  

It is clear that organizational leaders have to run at full sprint to keep up with and stay ahead of the compelling and competitive business landscape. For this, they need the support of their human capital – their single-most valuable asset that takes them towards growth and innovation. 

The best companies across the world have realized the value such an attitude brings. Richard Branson, for example, has gone ahead and built an organizational culture that places the employees first and has been reaping its rewards. 

Making the right investments in employees, understanding their needs, growing a culture that is inclusive and safe, and investing in building the power skills of his people leads to resilient, strong, creative, and innovative organizations. And it is in these organizations, where the employee is motivated to put in the discretionary effort, that eventually separates ‘good’ from ‘great’. 

If we look at a company balance sheet, we find the ‘book value’ of the organization consisting of tangible assets. However, along with tangible assets, it is time to focus on the intangible assets of the organization. The intangible assets comprise entirely of the human capital. It is this capital that contributes to and determines the success or failure of the business. Perhaps listing human capital as an asset and not a liability on the balance sheet will bring about a strategic shift in how we treat and engage with it. 

 

If recruiting and retaining top talent is on your agenda, you need Numly™ – an AI-Enhanced Coaching Platform. Get a demo today