By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Uncertainty – the sure-fire way to breed anxiety and destroy mental health. 

With a pandemic that refuses to abate even after a year, the economic fallout, and a constant need to maintain the ‘always on’ mode, mental health has become a very important topic of conversation.

While enterprises have always been talking about mental health, the pandemic has necessitated the need to get even more focused around this topic, as the workforce battles constant changes in the face of new stressors, safety concerns, and economic challenges. In these uncertain times, providing the right and timely support is imperative to ensure that mental health struggles do not translate into depression and other debilitating conditions.

What really is mental health?

Given the challenging work environment we are operating under, and the cessation of familiar operational models with more hybrid models, focusing on mental health is essential to create an enabling workplace that allows employees to reach their true potential.

There is enough evidence that points out that a high level of mental wellbeing is conducive to productivity. Addressing wellbeing at work can increase productivity by almost 12%

But what is good mental health?

Mental health is the way people think, feel, and respond to situations and circumstances. It is the ability to navigate through life and its ups and downs. People with good mental health can navigate these challenges with resilience and are not ‘thrown’ by sudden or unforeseen situations. They generally have a good sense of purpose and direction and can capably deal with life and workplace challenges. 

How to drive good mental health in the workplace?

Having good mental health helps people play a full part in all the roles we undertake – in the workplace, at home, and in the community. 

The thing about mental health is that it doesn’t stay consistent. It fluctuates as people go through life and circumstances. While good experiences have a positive impact, the hard circumstances and situations, when unresolved, can have a very negative impact. This is because stressors impact personal well-being and overall productivity negatively. Since uncertainty is the only certain thing, employees need the tools to increase their distress tolerance and move ahead with certainty. 

Setting up a Peer Coaching culture in the organization can contribute immensely to bring balance into the workplace and promote the mental wellbeing of the employees. 

Here are a few reasons why Peer Coaching is now imperative in the workplace.

  • Promotes team spirit

Peer coaching can be a valuable tool to promote team spirit. Employees who have undergone tremendous change over the past year are again adjusting to a new hybrid work model. Navigating the hybrid workplace can lead to stress as employees wonder how to build trust bridges and connections that will help them succeed in the workplace. They also need to build new skills to thrive in this new world. 

Skills like willing collaboration, collective commitment, assertive communication are becoming imperative. These skills also bring in more efficiency to the workplace and thereby help in promoting morale.

To navigate this new world of work, employees need new skill sets. While the focus is on technical skills, it is the nuanced behavioral shifts that will help the workforce operate productively and with engagement. Helping them identify the skills needed to operate as a team is essential. 

Peer coaching successfully helps in driving these shifts as it is contextual, non-judgmental, continuous, and helps people acquire the skills that help them manage their work better. This consequently impacts mental health productively as it eliminates the worry corridors that we build to deal with lack of knowledge

  • Improves stress management

All employees now need access to the right people who can help them navigate the new and everyday challenges of the workplace. Lines dividing work and life are blurred adding to tremendous stress into an employee’s life. The absence of social workplace interactions can make problem-solving more challenging. The fear of perceptions can impede people from asking for help when they need it as they might fear being labeled ‘inefficient’ or ‘weak’.

 A peer coaching culture makes sure that organizations are sending a strong message out to their employees. It establishes that along with their productivity, the organization is also invested in their well-being. Organizations need to start talking about mental well-being and establish processes to drive that to help employees see that their interest in mental health is not just to pay lip service to a ‘trend’.

Establishing a peer coaching culture in these times help employees realize and destigmatize a few important things:

  • Everyone is struggling and that is okay
  • With knowledge comes the power to change a situation
  • It is okay to not be okay
  • They have the right support to help them manage their challenges 

When participants develop the skills to address challenges those challenges become the reason for confidence. Peer coaching simply makes sure that employees receive timely help before a challenge becomes a distressing stressor

  • Alleviates coping challenges

Mental health gets severely impacted when people are unable to cope. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Poor productivity, missed targets and deadlines, lower output, lesser engagement, etc. are all consequences of feeling overwhelmed. 

Overwhelming also occurs when we do not have the tools to address our challenges or hurdles. The minute we get knowledge, that very minute we begin to feel more confident of ourselves. It gives us the assurance to feel that we can manage the situation.

Access to peer coaches provides employees the avenues to close their skills gaps and address their coping challenges. A peer coach operates as a guide… a person who will always be there to provide support and guidance that will have a positive outcome. Peer coaching affirms that asking for help is not a sign of weakness and thereby organically helps people address their coping challenges.

  • Builds resilience

Establishing peer coaching networks organization-wide can greatly impact employee resilience and push it towards being more positive. Resilience comes from the knowledge that someone has your back, you will get help when you seek it, change and accommodating to change can take time, and change is the only constant.

When people get the tools that deliver enablement at work, it automatically improves their resilience, their capacity to remain resolute, functional, calm, unfazed, and productive during a crisis. While this does not mean that there will be no stress, it can ensure that the stress will not convert into distress and lead to burnout.

In Conclusion 

The good news is that the right support and right working conditions can promote mental wellbeing. When organizations create conducive, supportive, and encouraging work environments, they automatically move towards employee engagement and higher productivity. 

Peer coaching can play a big role in destigmatizing help-seeking and aids in building the right connections that help us navigate this loneliness epidemic that is becoming endemic to our times.

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can help your organization build a strong peer coaching network to drive mental wellbeing in your workplace – remote, on-location, or hybrid.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Most employees promoted to the role of the manager are the ones who are the star performers and high-potential employees

However, assuming that individuals who are great at their job will be equally great managers is pushing the luck. This is because the skills needed to become a great manager are vastly different from those needed to succeed as an individual contributor. 

It is hardly a surprise that great, star employees often struggle as new managers. In fact, statistics reveal that six out of ten managers said the challenges associated with managing this career transition come second only to dealing with divorce! And with dispersed teams and remote working becoming the new normal, the challenges for new managers have got more complicated. 

Here are seven challenges that new managers need to find solutions to navigate this new world of work without losing their minds.

Read: Common Mistakes Managers Make While Coaching Their Teams

Manage ‘transition anxiety’

The ‘new manager’ story is quite familiar. Mostly, employees work hard to get promoted to the role of the manager. And while the new managers are excited about their new roles, the reality hits home – that they are essentially alone, they are unsure of what is really expected of them, and they have to navigate this new realm of work by building new connections (mostly without the support of their trusted group of peers). 

Many new managers, especially technical managers, end up battling these feelings, or “transition anxiety” mainly because they and the organizations they work for are solely focused on building their ‘hard skills’. However, it is the soft skills that give the power needed to blaze through this new role and establish credibility. 

Organizations thus need to help their new managers build their power or soft skills like emotional intelligence, collaboration skills, communication skills, or the other skills needed to build new networks and manage their job roles. By doing this, organizations can ably help them manage this transition anxiety and move on to become strong, resilient managers. 

Build trust 

Building trust is one of the hardest jobs of a new manager. It gets even harder in this new normal characterized by the lack of physical interactions and the rise of remote working. It can be hard to build authentic connections in the absence of face-to-face conversations. It can be complicated to understand team dynamics. Understanding how each individual team member operates and how to motivate them can be gargantuan. As such, it can become harder to build trust.

It is imperative to learn and decode the management style that will work in today’s environment. Therefore, organizations must coach new managers on behaviors that build trust, enable them to lead by example, and help them establish their credibility by building trust. 

Re-thinking meetings and navigating the communication chasm 

Remote working amplifies existing challenges considerably. For new managers, this can make it inherently harder to navigate the organization and establish a balanced relationship with their teams. Understanding processes that work and the ones that don’t within the teams and discovering new methods to connect with the team become essential to drive high-performance.  For this, new managers might need to re-think meetings and communication patterns. 

Meetings, for example, have to become more efficient. For this, the new managers need to develop capabilities like understanding collaboration requirements, setting meeting objectives clearly, and ensuring participation. Choosing the right meeting format and technology, translating how objectives will translate into activity, how to integrate break-out effectively, etc. become important skills to lead the team efficiently. For this, they need direction on how to communicate effectively by building empathy and understanding, both of the work and of the people. 

Establishing a leadership style 

Becoming a new manager is a far cry from the days when becoming a manager meant becoming a boss with a capital ‘B.’ Today, managers need effective leadership styles that are relevant and drive outcomes rather than drive team members crazy. 

New managers have to understand the tenets of leadership to become leaders who work tirelessly to grow their team members. They need to learn to be respectful and yet, authoritative. They need to be problem-solvers without spoon-feeding their team. They have to learn to be respectful, intuitive, and empathetic to gain the trust of their team members. 

Organizations need to coach new managers to understand the dynamics of their new job roles and help them care for their team members. Coaching helps them progress along their career trajectories while making sure that the team remains highly productive and motivated irrespective of their location. 

Conflict and change management 

Managers spend a lot of time managing conflict and change. Since the world of work has become enveloped in a myriad of interdependencies, new managers have to work on developing robust communication strategies to manage these complexities emerging out of change and conflict.

They must develop empathy levels and work on improving their emotional quotient while remaining on the path of continuous personal development. This is essential as most new managers struggle to work out effective solutions either because they cannot understand a problem from the perspective of the employee experiencing it. They might also be lacking in the emotional vocabulary required to empathize without judgment and provide the right solution.

Developing strong conflict resolution capabilities becomes essential especially as the world of work is in a constant state of VUCA (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) and constant change. New managers need coaching to ably and proactively navigate and avoid conflict when possible and take rapid and effective steps when it presents itself. Quite naturally, organizations have to help new managers understand the slippery slopes of conflict management and help them develop robust conflict management styles. 

In Conclusion

Along with all of these traits, organizations need to help new managers develop a positive perspective, balance productivity with well-being, improve decision-making capabilities, and help them deliver greater value to the organization.

It can be challenging to be a new manager. With the remote work situation becoming a mainstay, the challenge becomes even greater. It can be isolating for new managers to establish their authority as for most it means that they are no longer a ‘part of the crew’ and that relationships at work aren’t the same as when they were individual contributors. Instead of trying to get on to the ‘good side’ of people to navigate their new job role, new managers need the support to identify how to ‘connect’ with their team members in honest, authentic, and impactful ways. 

Connect with us to understand how an AI-driven coaching platform can give your new managers the head start they need to assume and traverse their new roles with dexterity and confidence.