Hint: It’s not the Office Coffee Machine. Wondering what it is….?

By Kavita Ryali, Product Evangelist & Advisor, Numly™ Inc.

Great company leaders have an innate desire to hire great talent, train, make them happy, successful and have them stay and grow with them forever. FACT – that doesn’t happen and more often than not, attrition takes over. So, what builds resilience for the company and for leaders to have a strong sense of loyalty amongst employees, a high sense of pride and feeling of fulfillment?

Most employees feel that a ‘Coaching culture within the organization is a very powerful incentive.’ A coaching culture sparks a very conducive environment to foster all round growth, learning and self-attainment for employees. This learning is further super charged with engagement and empathy as there are connections happening at a grass root level amongst employees and between teams. Employees don’t feel in despair but feel they can get timely help and also help others in need. As an outcome of the coaching efforts, one genuinely feels invested in, feels secure and peaks in their performance. As a result, there is a natural environment setup for care, growth and mentorship across the entire organization.

Glue it on with “Internal Coaching”? The notion of “Internal Coaching” has grown significantly in the past 4 years. The key is in building a pipeline of change-ready leaders. In business, its simply when your coaches and coachees work within the same organization. These coaches can be trained managers, leaders, or any employee with oodles of experience, wisdom and an aptitude to share. Large companies, like Google and Microsoft, are including internal coaching as part of their employee development programs. Coaching has been identified by organizations as a critical leadership and management competency as well.

Why do companies care? Coaching and mentoring fuel learning, prepare our workforces for the future, and enhance the performance of organizations by increased Employee Engagement. With the advent of everchanging business models, Covid-19 disruptions and remote work environments, and a higher bar for meeting employee expectations, coaching and mentoring might become even more critical. According to Gallup reports and HR.Com reports , the state of employee engagement is dismal. Only 25% of U.S. workers are engaged in any meaningful way. Disengaged employees cost companies an overall U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion per year in lost productivity. Reasons for this are plenty – missed shifts, chronic tardiness, and disrupting others with negative workplace behavior. Leaders and coaching provide the “juice” needed to engage workers. Coaching can boost individual and organizational engagement and performance in today’s challenging times.

How do Employees and Managers Benefit from Coaching?

Here are three ways that employees and managers feels empowered in a Coaching Culture

1.Get expert advice

Employees and managers work hard, share smart ideas, drive multiple initiatives, yet more often than not, they don’t see growth commensurate with their efforts. Be it skill training, or the right tools to thrive in their jobs, employees are looking for help each and every day to get their jobs done. In a coaching culture, the first people they seek expert advice from are from their coaches. They are their sounding board. Be it a manager turned coach, a Subject Matter Expert (SME) turned coach or a friend/colleague turned coach, each one of them becomes an employee’s go-to person. It becomes a relationship that is built on trust. A timely advice from one’s “trusted advisors” goes a long way in improving our team’s performance levels. Now, the question is How do Managers and Leaders Develop Effective Coaching Skills and Competencies? Successful organizations like Microsoft, Google, HP, IBM, SAP and others have recognized that managers must be able to coach their employees and each other, and have included coaching in their management/leadership development.

2.Get or give help

Let’s face it our days at work is always full of challenges, conflicts, fear of losing a job and some really tough people to work with. Employees can feel lost, not know what to do or where to go and often succumb, feel stressed and give up. Individuals seek mentorship which is either not available (company too small) or senior team members are too busy to invest the time. Organizations with a robust coaching culture will find their employees are feel more safe and understood. They look to their coaches as their first line of defense.

3.Online Remote Work and WFH

The COVID-19 pandemic era has brought radical shift in working, learning and interaction models for employees and managers. Gartner’s HR Survey reveals that 88% of Organizations Have Encouraged or Required Employees to Work From Home Due to Coronavirus. The practice of traditional heavy lifting on commute, classroom training and meeting people over coffee or in conference rooms is moving away. So, what are we missing? – It’s the people and their physical presence, and yet we need to engage even more to work effectively. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of fully digitized approaches to re-create the best of in-person learning, coaching through live video and social sharing. It’s now virtual coffee chats and online training and continuous digital presence to get work done.

Conclusion – How do Enterprises and Leaders ultimately benefit?

A coaching culture builds resilience and it is a force multiplier for any organization; resilient people strengthen teams when times are hard, and strong teams grow a lasting company. They also help people thru’ change in the post-pandemic world. Often times HR departments spend a lot of money on training their resources. However, employees and managers need support too and in varied unique ways as stated above. A strong Coaching Culture breeds teamwork and productivity. In its absence, employees feel susceptible to toxic stress, and negativity, leading to disengagement. The solution – Democratize Coaching. Team and organization members have an inherent set of strengths that they can coach others on while learning skills from others that they need to improve upon. This mutual exchange of feedback and skill growth sparks and facilitates engagement. Ultimately, effective Coaching, between and amongst employees builds teams of Trust, and YES, High Performance.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

2020 has been a crash course on how to rethink everything. 

From the way we work to the way we collaborate; this year has seen a complete overhaul of everything familiar. 

For frontline workers, such as people who are in sales, this shift has been tougher to navigate. They had to unlearn the old methods of working and learn new strategies – this year has been really challenging on multiple levels. For organizations, the challenge has been to retain high engagement levels of these sales teams as they move into the new normal of digital selling. 

So, what can organizations do to drive employee engagement for their remote sales teams?

Cross the ‘process’ chasm

Processes are one of the most important things to implement to help a remote sales team. Processes bring structure and direction and help to get work done, especially when teams are spread across geographies or time zones. 

Defining processes on lead generation, doing demos and presentations online, conducting negotiations and closing deals, and enabling customer success are important parameters to help remote sales teams do their work successfully. 

However, along with defining processes, it is also important for sales teams to follow these processes. 

Sales managers need to coach their teams to adhere to processes and build accountability to do their jobs better. Providing these teams with additional coaching to help them become digitally-savvy is also important as this drives enablement and enablement drives engagement.

Navigate the new rules of engagement

Physical meetings between team members and even clients have taken a backseat now. 

Even star sales performers have to rework, re-evaluate, and re-structure how to communicate effectively with team members and clients to have relevant and outcome-driven conversations. 

Organizations have to help their sales teams adopt the right communication strategies and develop their intuitiveness to identify passive cues even when they are over video or phone conversations. They have to help the sales teams further develop their innate capability to pick up implied needs along with the explicit needs of the client. This can be achieved with coaching. 

Helping teams realize and internalize the importance of seamless communication and how it impacts collaboration becomes essential to drive out feelings of frustration. 

Managers have to work closely with team members, identify their coaching needs, especially for technical and power skills, and ensure that team members are connected to the right coaches who can help them adapt to this new world of work. This consequently drives employee engagement since the teams see that the organization is invested to help them navigate this new world.

Develop a coaching culture

Developing a strong coaching culture is imperative to drive employee engagement for remote sales teams. 

Statistics reveal that such a culture can increase employee engagement by 56%, impact employee retention rates by 45%, and drive an increase in productivity by 51%. A coaching culture also impacts the leadership pipeline positively and results in 36% faster leadership development. 

However, there is an art and science behind creating such a culture. One of the most critical aspects of this is to ensure that the remote sales teams get relevant and contextual coaching. For this, it is essential to move away from guesswork and employ data-driven strategies (such as Personality Assessment tests or Behavioral Analysis tests) to identify the exact coaching needs of the salespeople and ensure the right, skill-specific coach-mentee pairing. 

Read: The Key Characteristics of Meaningful Sales Coaching and Mentoring Interactions

Adopting an AI-driven coaching platform can alleviate this burden and help organizations join the right dots to help their remote sales teams become more enabled.

Charter a growth plan

Salespeople are highly growth-driven. They thrive in high-pressure environments and are motivated by the number games. Their growth plans have been suddenly tossed, because of this new world of work. Most sales teams are grappling with how to nurture sales leads, meet sales projections, and overshoot their targets. The inability to help the sales teams navigate these hurdles will lead to frustration and disengagement at work.

As such, organizations have to design clear growth plans for their sales teams, identify their high-potential employees, and help them develop critical leadership skills to help them understand how they can grow professionally within the company. This becomes especially important to drive engagement for the most dominant demographic within organizations – the millennials and Gen Z. 

Build trust

Trust is a big motivator of engagement, especially for remote sales teams. 

When teams are not spending enough time together, there is a lack of visibility, individual accomplishments do not get recognized. If managers do not walk the talk themselves, teams can become susceptible to internal conflicts and mistrust. While this is bad for any team, in a remote setting, this can be disastrous and lead to seriously disengaged and unmotivated employees.

Organizations thus have to build bridges to promote teamwork and collaboration, take active steps to acknowledge individual and team achievements, recognize discretionary efforts, and be open to receiving feedback. Frequent and clear communication, prompt response to messages, and being available for team members to help them manage the challenges of this new work environment demonstrate commitment and investment towards employee success and help to build trust. 

Additionally, it is equally important to help managers understand the value of trust and coach them to fine-tune their team management skills to meet the needs of this new normal. 

It is equally important to give leadership coaching in the COVID overhaul and focus on building things like emotional intelligence and empathy. Taking calculated and measured steps help in building trust and this trust begets engagement.

Engagement Strategies for Remote Sales Teams 

There is always a silver lining in every dark cloud. While managing and engaging a remote sales team may seem like big challenges, but they also present the opportunity to expand the sales footprint and organizational presence. 

Setting accurate goals, encouraging seamless communication, and establishing the right processes mean half the job done. The rest can all be managed by focusing heavily on coaching and helping employees do their jobs with ease. Provide the support they need to move along their career path and help them navigate the frustrations that emerge in this new normal. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can super-charge your remote sales team and keep them engaged, productive, and invested.

 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

COVID-19 has successfully upended the world of work and has delivered us to the era where Working from Home (WFH) and remote work has become our new reality. 

As digital workplaces become an integral and everyday part of our work culture, organizations have to evaluate effective strategies to coach new hires for the remote world of work. Since every organization has its own rhythm, they need to help new hires acclimate to the professional and social expectations of their work environment. 

While most organizations have jumped on the Microsoft Teams or Zoom or Learning Management Platforms bandwagon to onboard and engage their remote hires,, these mediums do not always meet the needs of the organizations to the tee. 

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has admitted that one of the significant pitfalls of remote work is that it can often feel like ‘sleeping at work’. He states that while organizations need to help employees transition between work and private life in this remote setting, it is even more essential to onboard the new hires successfully and focus on their reskilling and upskilling initiatives as per the business needs.

Work from home might not be a new phenomenon, but the scale at which it has been implemented has been experienced before. As it settles as our normal, organizations have to discover new ways of building engagement with their new hires and help them thrive in their workplace. 

The challenge with onboarding new hires

The objective of onboarding is more than just introducing the new employee into the workplace. The right onboarding experience helps employees organically integrate into the company processes and culture, its attitudes, rituals, tools, and methods. The onboarding program helps the employee get used to their new environment and understand their roles and responsibilities in great detail.

In remote work, the absence of physical interactions is driving less-than-optimal experiences for new hires. More often than not, the onboarding exercise is summed up in a video interaction, first with HR and then with their managers and team members. 

But in the absence of physical, face-to-face everyday interactions, such one-time sessions do not fulfill the objectives of onboarding and end up resembling an orientation session, a one-time session aimed at just welcoming new hires. 

Orientation is about creating the space for the new hires to acquaint them with the company vision and mission, understand company benefits, codes of conduct, and other organizational benefits.

Onboarding has to include orientation, but it cannot stop at that. Onboarding continues to remain a series of events and exchanges that happens over a period of time. Since onboarding is tailored for a specific role, it contributes significantly to driving employee engagement. 

However, the world of remote work has to account for the challenges that new hires are experiencing and drive onboarding experiences accordingly. 

  • New hires are not aware of the culture of the organization. In a remote work environment, internalizing the same through a day-long session or a video demo is not effective
  • The absence of physical interactions with team members and managers can make it hard for the new hires to establish and cement work relationships and build strong connections
  • It can be overwhelming to identify growth plans for them and assess how to leverage them
  • It can be confusing for new employees to identify the ideal pathways to demonstrate value in a remote set up
  • Evaluating how to build the professional network within the organization can also seem challenging

Coaching leads the way 

With ambiguity ruling the roost, organizations need a fool-proof strategy to drive employee experiences and help their new hires gain ground in the new environment. 

Coaching can be the most effective way to build a bridge between expectations and outcomes and provide new employees with the direction they need to navigate their careers. 

Here is a look at how coaching can help new hires to find their ground in the organization. 

  • Coaching complements onboarding in a remote set up

Complementing virtual onboarding with coaching drives greater clarity for new employees and ensures that the initial message is clear. Since new hires are not physically engaging with their team members and managers, it can be intimidating to ask questions and gain clarifications they need to get healthy working relationships going. Coaching can help new employees learn the ropes on how to navigate everyday challenges at work, be it technical or soft skills related. 

  • Coaching helps in establishing trust bridges

Establishing a coaching culture on Day 1 helps new employees realize that the organization is invested in their personal development and career growth. Providing access to skills coaching and development to every new employee helps organizations in building trust bridges with the employee. This also helps in driving employee engagement. 

This becomes especially relevant for the millennials since they are the primary demographic in the workplace and these initiatives are of great value and a big motivator for them. 

  • Coaching helps new hires find their feet 

Coaching is also an effective strategy to help new hires build connections and develop their network in the workplace. Coaching provides new hires the guidance they need to find their ground and helps them bridge the gaps that can come in their career path. 

Coaching helps new hires power through the initial days to establish themselves within the organization by helping them discover how to communicate and collaborate effectively in the remote work environment. It also helps them identify the skill gaps (power skills or technical) and also find ways to build networks.

  • Coaching provides support to new employees 

Modern-day, AI-enabled coaching platforms are the perfect support system that organizations need to evaluate where new hires need help and direction. 

By connecting the new employee to the right coach by using powerful AI algorithms, organizations can help new employees gain and increase expertise through systematic coaching interactions. 

  • Coaching drives inclusiveness 

In this world of remote work, coaching also helps organizations establish a positive and inclusive work culture. 

It helps organizations continue along the path of their diversity and inclusion initiatives and helps the new hires see that the organization is invested in their growth story. This can be a powerful motivator and can help significantly in driving employee engagement. 

  • Coaching provides direction to new hires

With the help of their coaches, new employees can also take charge of their career development and growth. Coaching platforms that take the data route and employ tests such as 16- Personality Factor self-assessments or Behavioral Skill assessments and help the new employees capably identify the gaps they need to fill to move along an upward growth trajectory. 

Coaching also helps them identify opportunities faster and discover the tricks on how to become more visible at work and drive an impact. This thereby helps new employees settle in and move along their career paths, irrespective of the remote set up.

In conclusion

Organizations have to also pay close attention to the needs of new hires who are in leadership roles. This demographic has to identify ways to not only remain engaged and productive but help those reporting into them to stay the same as well. Coaching can prepare them to lead by example and help them build the right leadership styles that are appropriate for this remote era so that they can confidently lead their teams and the organization to success. 

Connect with our team of experts to identify how our AI-enabled coaching platform can help your organization develop effective coaching strategies for your new hires and drive peer-to-peer coaching to build an inclusive and positive work culture in a location-agnostic manner.