By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Businesses started caring a great deal more about racial bias and began taking diversity seriously after a series of high-profile lawsuits that rocked the corporate world back in the 1990s. As a result of these, today, organizations are focusing heavily on diversity training, and we would like to believe that we are moving towards a more racially just workplace. However, while there has been considerable advancement of equality in the workplace, some still remain more equal than others, thereby bringing the focus on racial equity.

Racial equity is an outcome of mutually reinforcing actions that dismantle systemic racism and inequity. It is essential to place our focus on driving racial equity now because recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have exposed the disproportionate depth of racial inequality. At the same time, it has ushered in the era of heightened awareness and understanding which demands that organizations lead the change towards racial equity.

The challenge for organizations is to follow good intentions with sustained commitment and action to challenge beliefs, change behaviors and lead towards a more racially equitable future.

Workplace Racial Bias is Real 

The first step towards solving a problem is admitting you have a problem. 

  • Research shows that 42% of U.S employees have experienced racism in the workplace. And yet, 93% of white workers believe that racial or ethnic discrimination even exists in the workplace.
  • 35% of Black workers believe racial or ethnic discrimination exists in their workplace, but only 7% of white workers believe the same. 
  • “Whitened” resumes are more likely to get callbacks as compared to resumes that are ethnic-sounding. 
  • Black professionals (31%) have less access to senior leaders at work than white professionals do (44%) 

A simple google search will throw up many more such compelling statistics to lull us out of the dream of an equal and equitable workplace. 

Understanding racial bias?

Racially charged jokes, slurs and the like are blatant acts of bigotry that are easy to spot and call out. But racial bias emerges in more than these apparent ways. While organizations have many policies in place to arrest such blatant bias, it is the unconscious bias or the implicit bias that we have to work towards controlling. 

Unconscious biases are “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions unconsciously.” Everyone brings in some form of unconscious bias into the workplace and because these biases are reflexively triggered without our knowledge, they are virtually unconcealable. Assuming that an older person is technically challenged while a younger person is not is an example of unconscious bias. 

Unconscious bias contains many microaggressions and microinvalidations that send out denigrating messages to individuals because they belong to a certain group.

It is these biases that impact diversity and inclusion initiatives, undermine recruitment efforts and employee development, impact retention rates, and promote a disconnected culture. 

McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity report points out, “Gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity, particularly within executive teams, continue to be correlated to financial performance across multiple countries worldwide.” 

While hiring employees from different backgrounds is a stepping stone for a united culture, organizations have to work towards creating a workplace that facilitates inclusiveness where everyone is valued and differences are embraced. 

Is Coaching the Antidote to Racial Bias?

Organizations have relied on diversity training to reduce racial bias in the workplace but while it has been successful in somewhat reducing bias, it has not been successful in stamping it out. 

Tools to police thoughts and actions such as grievance systems are important but social scientists reveal that people often rebel against such rules to establish authority. Research also shows that organizations get better results when they ease up on the control tactics and, instead, take that path that allows people to increase their social accountability with the desire to be fair-minded. Being around people who are different than us, engaging with people who have a fair mind and believe strongly in racial equality and equity is bound to bring better results. This is where peer coaching comes into play as an antidote to racial bias. 

Why Peer Coaching Works to Battle Racial Bias

Peer coaching is the process where managers, executives, and professionals, who may or may not work together, form a trusting environment to help and support each other and facilitate learning by reflecting on current practices and sharing ideas. 

  • Non-directive: A peer coaching network within the organization is non-directive, as opposed to directive or evaluative feedback. It works through compassionate and caring inquiry and helps people improve their abilities via practice and reflection on what works and what doesn’t. 
  • Holistic: The nature of peer coaching makes it a sustainable practice that can be executed continuously to drive behavioral change. It takes a holistic approach towards a topic as sensitive as racial bias and effectively helps people understand the impact of their attitudes and stereotypes that influence their actions. 
  • Creates understanding: Peer coaching gives people the opportunity to understand themselves better, and how their judgment impacts their colleagues and the workplace. But most of all, peer coaching helps people understand that their own declared beliefs are not absolute and can be malleable, that they might not be as fair as they think they are, and might be completely unaware of their bias. 
  • Promotes behavioral shift: Most importantly, peer coaching works to tackle racial bias because it helps in building that mind shift that is needed for people to see things differently as the circle of influence lies within the organization. We have to remember that while beliefs drive behavior, it is behavior that can change beliefs.

However, peer coaching cannot be approached in a random, haphazard manner. For peer coaching to tackle workplace bias organizations have to:

  • Leverage technology and not guesswork to connect the right coach to the right learner and drive better coaching conversations
  • Make coaching feedback-driven, personalized and contextual 
  • Leverage data to guide people by identifying areas of improvement to reach their full potential 
  • Adopt data-backed methods to identify potential candidates for coaching and also to identify potential coaches from the workforce
  • Cultivate leaders who champion diversity and inclusion, infuse collaboration and empowerment into diverse teams and foster a fair and equitable work environment 
  • Assimilate the corporate culture and build trusted relationships by developing the right mindsets and habits that allow people to connect, care and coach each other

In Conclusion 

Businesses have the responsibility and also the opportunity to improve racial equity in the workplace. A report by Deloitte shows how racial equity creates greater business value. It is all the more essential to move along this path as 94% of millennials and Gen Z expect organizations to take a stand on important social issues such as racial bias, 67% of job seekers report that a diverse workforce is an important point when considering a job offer. Today, public and private investors are also increasingly demanding racial equity and want companies to disclose annual data on the composition of their workforce by race and ethnicity. 

The Deloitte report shows that not addressing key racial gaps cost the U.S economy around $16 trillion over the last two decades. Closing these gaps now can add an estimated $5 trillion to the GDP over the next five years alone. 

Clearly, racial equity is great for everyone. But reaching equitable outcomes need concentrated, sustained, and coordinated effort across the organization. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-based coaching platform can power your peer coaching initiatives and help you battle racial bias in the workplace. 

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

The events in 2020 shook the business world to a stage where leaders must adapt if they, their business, and their teams want to survive and flourish. As we welcome 2021, it will be a valuable idea for business leaders to hold a vision for their organization’s future. We have entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution, yet most leadership development has remained dormant over the past few decades. 

However, to remain relevant for the upcoming years, leaders have to incorporate transformations in every area of training and executive education. Once only talking points, let us see five key trends that hold substantial promise as they become a reality in 2021.

Prioritizing Employee Experience

The advent of COVID-19 boosted the trend of business leaders playing an extended role in the employees’ financial, physical, and mental well-being. Support consisted of improved sick leaves, financial aids, flexible working hours, and childcare provisions. Today, business leaders are mindful of the power of building employee experiences that reflect their business’s customer experience. 

Read: Employee Experience and Talent Performance Management – Two Critical Pillars of HR 3.0

There are several reasons why employee experience matters to the company more than ever now.

  • Firstly, with the work from home set up, employees work up to three hours more per day and juggle the organization and family’s rising demands. While businesses are witnessing increased productivity working from home, the gains come with a cost to employees’ mental health. 
  • Secondly, the toll that pandemic has taken on employees makes yet another reason for employers to prioritize employee experience. 
  • Thirdly, with increasing digitization and automation in the workplace, employees are looking for more ways to develop emotional connections during social distancing and isolation. 

Approaches like employee journey mapping are now often utilized to fathom employee experience. As employees choose to permanently work from home, business leaders need to plan and monitor how the employee experience is intertwined with their organizational culture. Culture is rapidly becoming the new infrastructure for organizations. 

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

Designing Organizations for Resilience

In the former years, organizational redesigns were mainly focused on restructuring roles, supply chains, and workflows to build up efficiency. However, the pandemic has proved that, although this method maximized efficiencies, it was brittle, as the systems lacked the flexibility to respond to disruptions and changes. Resilient businesses are always better placed to react during significant disruptions. 

To build a more responsive business, business leaders must design roles and structures around outcomes to amplify agility, flexibility, and formalize how processes can flex. Also, consider offering employees distinct, adaptive, and flexible roles to attain cross-functional knowledge and training. Business leaders need to be involved in role designing and forming flexible workflows to make sure that employees of all backgrounds and their requirements are considered when the business is undergoing workflow redesigns.

Read: How to Invest in Your Company’s Most Important Asset – People

A Move Towards Well-being Leadership 

It takes a massive shift in perspective from seeing well-being as something on the side-line to rather being at the heart of a business’s mission and essential to keeping up the productivity. Today, business leaders worldwide are beginning to shift their views on the role of well-being in the organization. 

Well-being leadership is taken as an approach to business and society that emphasizes maximizing outcomes through eight distinct aspects: economic, material, physical, psychological, social, cultural, environmental, and spiritual. This leadership approach states that financial success is no adequate measure of the quality of life and that all the factors mentioned above are interconnected to offer a sustained economic output. Business leaders must understand that: 

  • Both, purpose and profit, are critical to facilitate sustainable business outcomes
  • Well-being at work, in their business, and broader society are all interconnected
  • They must build a culture of well-being by surrounding themselves with people who have similar realizations

Becoming an Agile Leader

2020 has been a long and challenging year. for everyone. In such disrupting and continually evolving times, agile leadership is the need of the hour in our fast-paced business landscape. In times of ambiguity, business agility offers stability – a lucrative way to manage change and respond productively. 

Organizations with agile leadership have demonstrated advantages like increased revenue, rapid turnaround times, and supreme quality offerings. However, there always has been confusion and misinformation when it comes to comprehending agile leadership. Organizations often link agility with a framework like Scrum instead of a mindset. They often fail to understand how critical it is to learn the agile mindset and periodically practice that mindset and lead by example. As agile leaders, business leaders must delegate outcomes, encourage individuals, and offer them the space to do an exceptional job. 

Agile values and principles inspire business leaders to collaborate and encourage others to grow and share in decision-making. Agile leaders tend to perceive failures as opportunities to learn and nurture trust and psychological safety in their organizations.

Read: From “Remote Boss” To “Virtual Leader” – How to Make the Transition

Managing Remote Workforce

With the advent of COVID-19, several organizations provided permanent work from home opportunities to their employees. As businesses shift to more remote work operations, business leaders will be required to alter employee experience strategies and employees will be required to collaborate digitally. Business leaders will need to consider how to shift performance goal-setting and employee evaluations for a remote context. Leaders will need to establish clear business objectives, run great virtual meetings, communicate clearly, and make the most of team members’ individual and collective strengths.

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

Leadership development fosters the human capital of a business. As we step into 2021, it is a thrilling time for a complete transformation of our departments. Which of these leadership trends are you going to put into practice to become an agile leader?

To transform your Work-from-Home (WFH) teams with AI, take a look at NumlyEngage(™). Get a live demo today!  

 

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

Ready or not, organizations worldwide have had to adopt remote working at a scale never experienced before. 

As organizations and employees navigate this new world, finding their rhythm can be challenging for many. Undoubtedly, there are tremendous benefits to remote work. However, in an environment plagued with uncertainty and fear owing to the pandemic, it can be hard for employees to be completely productive and engaged. Settling into remote work can especially be daunting for those who thrive on the routine and the social interactions of an office or a worksite, making it significantly hard for them to focus on work. 

While adjusting to remote work for employees is hard, it can be harder to manage remote workers. Managers now need to have very high empathy levels to motivate and guide their teams and need to support their teams through this transition while supporting themselves. 

Given these shifts, organizations have to empower their employees to navigate this new normal. Coaching can play a big role in helping employees manage this change while helping them move along their career paths. 

Let’s accept it. Things have changed 

Given the current version of working remotely is unlike the remote working we did previously, making this shift is not easy for many. 

  • Families are juggling full-time work while facilitating online learning for kids who are out of school for an indefinite time. 
  • Most have their spouses working remotely as well. Adjusting to this new scenario is quite different from any other time. 
  • Organizations need to take cognizance of the fact that their employees are now adapting to a unique set of circumstances where they are experiencing a broad range of emotions, most of which are unpleasant. Worries about how to showcase work, how they will grow within the organization, and how their career will progress are growing concerns for employees. 
  • Many, especially the high-potential employees, might be finding it hard to figure out avenues to contribute more and show an impact. The absence of face time with managers and leaders can lead to feelings of isolation and insecurity, and general disconnect. 
  • While managers might just be checking in more frequently than usual, it can also often be misconstrued as micromanaging. This could lead employees further down the disengagement path unless the rules of engagement are redefined. 

How can coaching help?

Coaching the remote team can help alleviate most of these problems by giving them the guidance and clarity they need to traverse this challenging environment. 

Coaching gives them access to individuals who will guide them along their career path while being empathetic towards their problems without holding any judgment. 

Coaching a newly-remote team is also essential to help them understand how to navigate this new normal and make the right moves to become more visible across the organization. Unlike a one-time training session, coaching is a constant process and helps employees develop the power skills to complement the technical abilities needed to thrive in challenging environments. 

Today, and in the days to come, skills like critical and strategic thinking, growth mindset, empathy, EQ, communication, collaboration, and the like will be essential to enhance business outcomes. 

Organizations have no option but to help their employees improve their behavioral and power skills and upgrade their technical skills if they want to move along the path to profitability. And the path to this is through coaching.

How to coach your newly-remo

te team?

Before organizations begin coaching their employees, they have to first refocus and redesign their leadership coaching strategies. 

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

Leadership coaching in the COVID era will demand a makeover as leadership has now become more virtual than ever before. 

Since leaders have to be the positive agents of change, it is imperative to build authentic leadership models that will inspire employees to follow the leader and remain engaged in the workplace. 

Coaching strategies for remote teams need to be driven by data. 

Gone are the times when employees could be brought into a room and made to go through any training program. Relevance, context, and personalization are now extremely important – especially when organizations need employees to be self-motivated and highly engaged. 

Coaching strategies for a newly-remote workforce have to therefore focus on:

  • Becoming more contextual and relevant to the employee. Using data-backed Behavioral Analysis or 16 Personality Factor Assessments help in identifying gaps and areas of improvement and help in making coaching contextual for the employee
  • Establishing the right coach and employee pairing to drive better connections and better outcomes. Organizations can easily achieve this by using an AI-powered platform that can connect the right coach with the right employee to help them address their skill gaps.
  • Building emotional intelligence of employees and their managers to help them collaborate better by being more empathetic and understanding towards each other’s challenges.
  • Empowering employees to discover their strengths and weaknesses and nurture their talents to grow leadership skills, improve productivity, reduce job-related stress, and improve interpersonal relationships in a remote environment. 
  • Providing powerful, personalized, easy to use, and private coaching interactions. Provide AI-driven contextual nurture touch points to make coaching more effective and impactful.

This is a time when organizations have to utilize their emotional intelligence to understand the plight of their employees. 

The United Nations has issued warnings and has emphasized the concerns of mounting stress owing to this pandemic. Never before have employees experienced such ambiguous times where fear of jobs and career trajectories are at loggerheads with a crumbling economy and personal health worries. Organizations that give employees the support they need to steer the rudder will be rewarded with loyalty, commitment, and the benefits that come from having highly engaged employees. 

Connect with us to identify ways to leverage the AI-driven coaching platform to coach your newly remote workforce and their managers for success. 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

The world is bracing itself against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. Many organizations are scraping big-ticket events − Facebook’s F8 2020 Developer’s Conference and the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 already stand canceled. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and the like are taking deliberate steps to support their staff with remote working opportunities to keep the workforce productive, without compromising on health.

Twitter, for example, has made it mandatory for all its 5,000 employees located in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan to work from home. Facebook is conducting interviews via video−conferencing instead of in−person. Amazon has asked its Seattle workers to work from home as well for the time being.

While Coronavirus risk is pushing organizations to support remote work, the fact is that, for many companies remote working has already become the new normal.

−A report by PWC shows that 64% of millennials would like to work from home.

− Another study by Buffer on the state of remote work in 2019 showed that ‘99% of the interviewees reported that they would like, at least once in their career, to be able to work off−site’.

− A Zapier report showed that approximately 74% of the workforce would quit a job for one that offers remote working options. The report further elaborated that 57% of the workforce consider remote working options their ‘most preferred employment perk’.

A Upwork study revealed 63% of companies now have remote workers.

Companies such as WordPress have augmented the case for remote working as well. WordPress, for example, runs on a 100% distributed team and runs at a successful net worth of $1.16 billion.

It is hardly a surprise that remote working is growing at a phenomenal pace. As we waltz into the age of hyper−mobility, remote working is emerging as a valuable tool for organizations − to gain access to a skilled workforce, irrespective of location, and to improve competitiveness.

With remote working becoming a grounding reality, organizations have an important question to consider − how can they engage a remote workforce? While it might seem that enabling remote working should be enough to guarantee high productivity, the isolation element of remote working can impact the engagement levels of employees.

Not being physically present with other team members and colleagues can have residual effects on team performance, individual productivity, and communication. Consequently, it impacts employee engagement as well.

So what can organizations do to keep their remote teams from falling into the chasm of disengagement?

Identify high−potential remote employees

In the midst of acute skills shortage, organizations are increasingly compelled to look within their workforce and identify high−potential employees who can fuel their leadership pipeline. Lack of interaction and contact between employees owing to physical distance can lead to discontent and flagging motivation levels. All of these contribute to lower productivity and end up impacting the bottom line negatively.

Just like the in−house workforce, organizations have to give equal opportunities to their remote workforce to thrive in their careers. It is essential to have clear, open, and transparent communication along with a proactive feedback process to enable employees at work. The absence of face time and day−to−day interactions should not be an impediment to identify hard−working employees and help them navigate their careers to success.

Provide opportunities for skill development

Not all are created equal in the work environment. However, the tables often turn unfavorably on remote workers as organizations do not focus on the skill development of this remote workforce as their other counterparts.

However, while it can be easy to identify the technical skill development needs of this workforce, finding out where they need help to hone their power skills can be a challenge. Power skills such as problem-solving, communication, decision making, collaboration, and such are important tools that help navigate the workplace challenges and also increase employee engagement levels. Along with this, power skills also help in creating a more mature and well−rounded leadership pipeline − one where power skills complement technical skills.

Enable self-development

The art of self−development is a critical art to master in remote working environments. However, the boon often becomes a curse in the absence of direction when it comes to chart one’s career path.

It can be hard for remote workers to know how they can improve, and which development aspects they should focus on, especially in the absence of everyday interactions. This can lead to dejection and flagging engagement, especially if employees feel they are not rewarded at the end of the year. The reality of today’s work environment is that people have to be self−motivated. And organizations have to enable this self−motivation and self−development.

Helping employees understand the areas of improvement and development, especially in a remote environment, can be a challenge. However, organizations can leverage assessments such as 16 Personality Factor (16PF) Assessments to help their workforce identify their potential and development needs quantitatively.

Armed with this information, organizations can leverage coaching as a tool to help their remote workforce navigate the skills chasm (especially soft/power skills) and drive business results by becoming more engaged.

Say goodbye to generic engagement programs

Engaging a remote workforce means saying goodbye to archaic, one−size−fits−all engagement programs. Given the rising number of millennials in the workforce, their proficiency and ease with technology, and their predisposition towards personalization, engagement programs need to be tailored to meet each enterprise function and the audience specifically.

Employee engagement initiatives can be broken down into smaller programs that will resonate with the remote workforce. This could include aspects such as core values and skill development, innovation engineering, new hire skill development, inside sales coaching, sales management coaching, and many more. Taking a tailored approach that accounts for the unique development needs of the remote workforce helps in driving up engagement levels, even in remote teams.

Along with all this, to boost employee engagement levels of the remote workforce, organizations should foster shared values, ensuring that employees, irrespective of their location, are bound by common work principles and attitudes. Shared values have to be a part of the everyday existence of the employees and hence have to be communicated clearly, and repeatedly. It can be an incredible tool to boost engagement with remote teams.

NumlyEngage is an innovative platform that enables the development of soft skills through personalized coaching, in a structured and consistent manner, and enhanced by Machine Learning and AI. Talk to us to know how you can leverage the power of NumlyEngage to deliver measurably greater employee engagement for your remote workforce.