By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Workforce development programs are crucial drivers of employee engagement strategies across organizations. 

According to research, 93% of employees are more willing to stay with an organization if it invests in their career development. 

The millennials and Gen Z demographic is fast becoming the dominant workforce demographic. One of the key things this generation values is the acquisition of new skills with 87% of millennials citing investments in professional or career growth and development opportunities as key when selecting a job. 91% of the millennials think of their career progression as a top priority.

Clearly, investing in L&D initiatives is non-negotiable, especially as organizations try to get out of the economic slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing their employee skill sets to close the skills gap and increase the digital capabilities of the workforce have become imperative for business success. At the same time, organizations also have to increase their repertoire of critical skills to meet the needs of the Future of Work. Leadership skill development, as you can see, now needs a complete overhaul to help then transition from being a remote boss to a virtual leader. Organizations have to help managers lead teams more efficiently. Building organizational resilience by building employee resilience has become crucial. 

These and many such other changes must be introduced in the L&D initiatives to make them relevant for this hybrid workplace of the future. Consequently, organizations also have to approach their L&D budget allocations differently so that the organization can adapt to unexpected changes proactively.

Crafting a tangible “measure of success”

Training budgets increased from $17.7 million in 2019 to $22 million in 2020 for large companies. The total amount spent on training in the U.S in 2020 stood at $82.5 billion. With these numbers at play, making sure of the ROI from training investments becomes imperative for almost all organizations. 

To achieve this, it is essential to craft tangible “measures of success”, the parameters that determine the success or failure of learning and development initiatives. Some of the key elements to measure here are:

  • Behavioral changes: Measuring whether the training program has brought about the behavioral change in the workplace and evaluate if both individuals and teams are aligned with the organizational values and purpose. Monitoring the relationship between skill development and behavioral change is also essential to increase training efficiency, and improve business metrics 
  • Organizational impact: Measuring the increase in operational efficiency or organizational outcomes as a result of training. A sales training, for example, should result in sales revenue growth. 
  • Skill attainment: Measuring the knowledge levels of the employee both pre and post-training. The learners’ knowledge and skill levels must show improvement at the end of training.
  • Workplace application: Measuring the extent to which the learner is applying the newfound knowledge and skill in her role to improve outcomes and performance. Skill acquisition without skill application is purposeless in the enterprise narrative

However, to achieve good outcomes from L&D initiatives, it is necessary to closely tie these initiatives to the organizational goals and role-based performance goals and inextricably make L&D a part of the performance management process. 

Peer Coaching Drives L&D

Complementing training and skill development initiatives with peer coaching can make L&D initiatives more successful. Peer coaching is a powerful tool to drive team spirit and employee engagement. This becomes more relevant and essential now due to the rise of a hybrid workplace- one that accommodates both remote teams and on-premise teams in tandem. 

The rise of the hybrid workplace brings about new challenges – most of which need the workforce to hone, fine-tune and increase the repertoire of their critical skills such as communication, empathy, collaboration, strategic and critical thinking, and the like. 

Peer coaching delivers a quantified impact across learning and development initiatives because it:

  • Provides a 360-degree view of employee performance: Peer coaching helps employees gain a more holistic view of their performance. Instead of relying only on managers for feedback, peer coaching provides a well-rounded overview of areas of strengths and opportunities for improvement. Peer coaches can give quick and accurate feedback and offer timely advice to accelerate learning and drive accountability. 
  • Empowers and encourages people to learn new skills: Peer coaching does not adopt an instructional approach like training. It is a deeper relationship, one that is ‘freer’ in nature. This perspective becomes the most defining factor of peer coaching. It is because of the nature of this form of coaching that makes people more attuned and welcome towards learning and skill acquisition. Since peer coaches are people who perform similar job functions as the learner, the conversation becomes more relevant to identify blind spots that training programs can miss. Peer coaching also empowers employees as a peer coach acts as that go-to person with whom they can talk directly and candidly when needed and learn by watching them work. 
  • Drives behavioral change: Repetition is essential to drive behavioral change. This is where day-long training programs fail on the measurement matrix. Peer coaching is a continuous process and is greatly needed to build critical skills like empathy, active listening, effective feedback, communication, leadership, etc.  Since peer coaching highlights reciprocal engagement, it facilitates the joint consideration of the process rather than merely listening to spoken words. This type of coaching helps in building an understanding of the “why” in question and, hence, can bring about a shift in behaviors through constant engagement.
  • Increases employee engagement: Peer coaching is also a great tool to build team spirit and camaraderie between employees. It is of valuable assistance when we want to build trust bridges across the organization to bring employees together. This becomes essential especially because hybrid teams, remote teams, and work from home burnout are an everyday reality across organizations.

Peer coaching helps employees build connections across the organization. It can be valuable to drive diversity and inclusion initiatives. It can help new employees migrate from being the ‘outsiders’ to the ‘insiders’ in the organization while helping all build trusted networks that drive career progress. All of these factors contribute heavily towards employee engagement and help build ‘shared purpose’ across the organization.

To make peer coaching outcomes successful, organizations need to design quantitative and qualitative points of measurement. 

Quantitative measurement 

For this, it is essential to leverage a technology-powered advanced coaching platform that helps organizations:

  • Identify the exact skill requirements of the workforce and deliver contextual peer coaching programs 
  • Assess skill needs, employee strengths, and weaknesses using skill assessment programs. The reliance has to be on data – not guesswork or gut feel
  • Use data to make the best coach-learner pairing 
  • Get evaluation insights from managers as well as colleagues to provide holistic feedback on soft and hard skills
  • Get detailed insights from self-scoring, peer rating, coach, and leader feedback both continuously during the coaching and post-completion 
  • Get post-coaching insights like engagement index of both the team and organization and enterprise insights from rich analytics 

Qualitative measurement 

Qualitative measurement must complement quantitative measurement. For quantitative measurement, organizations have to look at the non-numerical data and identify the measures of success. 

So, how employees respond to peer coaches and coaching, how well they can apply their newly learned skills, how aligned they are to the organization, is there a behavioral change, and whether they are engaged and believe in the organizational purpose, for example, become important points to measure. 

It is only when we measure both the qualitative and quantitative parameters that learning and development initiatives can drive a tangible impact on organizational outcomes. 

Connect with us to design comprehensive and effective peer coaching strategies and drive them using the power of AI to drive transformational learning and development results.   

By Varnika Garg, Associate Product Manager

Workplace dynamics change constantly for employees. New situations and challenges at work are common occurrences that can make employees feel stressed and worn out. The pandemic has only made the situation worse, with many employees finding themselves working in silos and feeling even more distanced from their teams and managers. 

But if you ask anyone, whenever faced with a challenge, most people would prefer reaching out to a colleague for help. This is often due to the close bonds that people build with their colleagues/peers at work. 70% of employees say having friends at their job is the most crucial element to a happy working life.

To get more insights into this, we at Numly conducted a quick poll on LinkedIn running for about a week, with the following question:

If you need expertise and do not know who to ask, what are your top methods to find the right person?

  • Ask manager for recommendation
  • Colleague for recommendations
  • Ask during a virtual event
  • Search via people locator tool

Results:

And here are the results, and they were not quite surprising!

With about 46% votes to “Asking a colleague for recommendations”, it is clearly evident that people do value peer relationships and would like to reach out to them when they are stuck and need expertise.

Takeaways:

Peer-to-peer relationships or Peer Coaching is evolving as an essential process for every organization. There are some real and tangible benefits of enabling your employees to interact and solve problems. Helping your workforce develop a close relationship with each other not only prevents them from feeling isolated and unheard, it is also a great way to improve your organization’s engagement levels. 

Some benefits of Peer Coaching are:

  • Increase in productivity and performance
  • Improved team morale
  • Boost in employee retention
  • Increase in camaraderie and engagement

For the current generation, having a well-connected network is highly important. Employees are keen to find new ways to seek and connect with others in their field to seek guidance and knowledge on critical skills development needed for their personal career growth. Organizations that are conducive to create such a trustworthy environment for their employees are highly sought after. 

Solution:

Having understood the importance of Peer Coaching, the biggest question is, how to enable it at your organization?

Numly offers an AI-enhanced platform – NumlyEngage™, that enables Peer Coaching as an extension of eLearning, making it possible for organizations to tap into employees’ hard and soft skills and empower them to coach each other in a structured manner, while leveraging third-party learning content, expert coaches and built-in, AI-enabled coaching programs tailored for all corporate functional groups such as Sales, Customer Success, R&D/Engineering, Women Leaders, New-hires, New Managers, etc. 

NumlyEngage™ helps employees of an organization to connect with each other on specific skills and coach each other in a systematic manner, guided by AI-generated recommendations and tips and content. in turn, organizations will get to experience accelerated revenue, increased performance, and improved employee engagement, especially in the post-COVID-19 era of Working-From-Home (WFH).

Leverage the power of Peer Coaching today! Get a live demo to discover how NumlyEngage™ can help you.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Peer coaching is a relational learning technique where professionals, managers, and executives come together to help each other become better versions of themselves. They do this by creating an environment that’s conducive to learning, self-reflection, honesty, and trust. Many times, they aren’t active participants in each other’s professional lives and have become acquainted through this process. Even so, they’re dedicated to helping each other reach pre-defined goals through self-directed learning. Each person alternately plays the role of peer coach and peer client. 

Getting individuals to wholeheartedly participate in peer coaching can be challenging in many ways. It can be a threatening idea for some. It involves letting your guard down and pointing out your flaws to another individual. If it’s someone you work with, it can be harder to do this. How does one foster an environment where people don’t feel threatened to let down their defenses? On the other hand, when people are ready to self-reflect, how can you ensure they’re led to the desired goals?

The answer to these questions lies in following the principles of peer coaching. With these, organizations can ensure that their peer coaching efforts are fruitful and deliver tangible impact. 

Key Principles for Peer Coaching at Workplace

Create an Environment of Introspection

Fostering the right environment for self-reflection is important. This is key to peer coaching and will help individuals feel comfortable with discussing their aspirations. Ensure each unit or team doesn’t exceed three to maintain a sense of comfort and closeness. Here are a few questions each peer coaching unit can ask to get started:

  • How will we work together?
  • When and how will we meet?
  • What are your expectations, interests, fears, and hopes?
  • What are you uncomfortable with disclosing? (this can be avoided to respect privacy)

Create a Feedback Culture

This is a crucial step in peer coaching. Not everyone is good at giving or taking, feedback. People may feel hurt, and this can create disharmony. How does one avoid getting into trouble with their peers while retaining honesty? Organizations can give the teams coaching on giving and receiving feedback – just a couple of basic rules. The most essential component of this is conveying the importance of active listening. This, along with observation and careful communication, is the backbone of effective feedback.

Set Transparent SMART Goals

Setting the right goals will create the structure for the peer coaching sessions. Each individual must create a set of personalized goals that they want to reach by the end of a set number of weeks. These should include what the individual wants to achieve, what skills they’d like to improve, and what new knowledge they’d like to obtain. Individuals will have to take time to self-reflect and think about their goals from the perspective of both a teacher and a learner.

They can then create a set of SMART goals. This will help them create specific, measurable, assignable, relevant, and time-bound goals that will help them succeed in their endeavors. When everyone is ready with their goals, they have to share them.

Establish a Realistic Schedule

When crafting the timetable for sharing and assessment, it is important to create a realistic schedule. This should not come in between the actual work of individuals. It is essential to take into consideration all their commitments, both professional ones, and personal ones, and then plan the peer coaching programs. Creating an unrealistic schedule will end up with people missing dates and reducing trust in the process. This will be demotivating and cause a dip in the employee growth journey. Setting SMART goals and a realistic schedule is important to create an effective peer coaching system.

Use the Right Tools

The right tools are important since most people are still working from home right now. Even when they aren’t, these tools will prove to be useful. Organizations need online collaboration, communication, and feedback tools to facilitate these processes. There are many such tools online, each that fit specific needs and budgets. Some tools help in adding tasks, due dates, facilitating video calling, and online chatting. These can be helpful during events or moments where people can’t be at the same place physically.  

Everyone Needs to Have the Right Mindset

The right outlook is key for peer coaching initiatives to work. People must be eager to reap the rewards of this process. This is a growth mindset and is essential for anyone to develop – not just professionally but as a human being. It can help to include managers, department heads, and other leaders from the company in these peer coaching sessions as they have specific experience and knowledge that can genuinely motivate others to grow.

Follow these peer coaching principles and get the most out of these fun and collaborative learning processes. It’s an excellent way to facilitate self-development with the right leadership to guide them. 

Leverage the power of Numly to empower your employees with Peer Coaching. Get a demo today!