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