By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Achieving harmony in work-life balance sounds utopian as a concept, especially with the stark impact
that COVID-19 has had on workforce dynamics. Reports are now indicating that a majority of the
women are being forced to drop out of the workforce at an escalating rate. However, in the face of
unprecedented challenges and the way the pandemic has transformed our society, leaders like
Shalini Ramakrishnan – Director, Product Marketing at Numly, is endeavoring to bring about a change
with guidelines and solutions that boost resilience and productivity.

1. In your present role, what are the unique qualities or characteristics that you have brought to
your career and workplace?
My innate ability to work across divisions and verticals is the most unique quality that I bring
to my role. I have had the opportunity of using this ability to experiment across divisions –
Sales, Operations, Product Training, and Customer demos without having to be streamlined
into a single role.

2. Every woman has different commitments and schedules in and out of the office. How do you
strike a balance between work and home?
We all know that achieving harmony at work and home is always a challenge, what with the
system redefining the ‘new normal’. The way I have learned to juggle both responsibilities is
by defining strict timelines and dividing up tasks to make work-life integration successful,
especially with my presence required across three time zones. This has helped me shift my
mindset in a way that I can prioritize my well-being and define boundaries for a more
productive and improved ecosystem – at both work and home.

3. How do you see COVID-19’s impact, both immediate and long term, on changing the nature
of how we work?
COVID-19 was almost a bolt out of the blue for organizations across the globe, and the
disproportional impact that it has had in the way organizations and individuals work cannot be
discounted. The immediate impact was transitioning to a remote working model that isolated
employees and left behind a silo mindset with minimal engagement and communication.
Overall, I see a fall in employee morale with organizations struggling to restore trust and
positivity. With the hybrid working model here to stay, they are now scrambling to re-invent
the work culture in the face of these existential challenges. Sustainable solutions are,
therefore, critical in the long-term – with increased engagement between peers and
managers, corporate flexibility to ensure the same levels of productivity, and the need for
reskilling and upskilling for innovation and strategic leverage.

4. What are the biggest challenges that you see with women in the workplace? Notwithstanding,
are there any benefits or opportunities of how the pandemic is transforming how we work and
live?
The challenges that women have had to face have been vastly disproportional and more
impactful on women. Women are striving to strike harmony with multiple responsibilities of
work, family, and home. Also, the biggest predicament for women is to be able to keep a
sense of normalcy in the current circumstances and how they can be best managed.
Organizations have started to recognize the struggle that women have been facing due to the
shift in work dynamic and incorporating initiatives that enable women employees and leaders
to drive a successful career for themselves. Work-life balance in the post-pandemic world is
an art that women in specific have to grow to master, with the transition from remote working
to the hybrid working model. The only benefit that I foresee is a sense of flexibility and a
smarter and more productive way of working.

5. In these trying times, how has Numly been a pillar in your work-life? How do you stay
motivated?
With the undue burden of mental load that has taken a toll on the well-being of women at
large, I would consider my team at Numly as one of the most dynamic and adaptive teams
that I have worked with thus far. Numly has been a pillar and extremely supportive of my
career choices, regardless of my gender. The freedom to define my timelines or decisions to
drive initiatives across numerous verticals was a shift that was graciously accepted by the
management and is motivation in itself.

6. What are some of the stereotypes and biases that you have experienced as a female leader?
How did you champion gender equality?
There have been some stereotypical situations that I have faced as a female leader, which is
questioning my ability to work effectively and deliver productive results. In the initial stages of
my career, these typical gender-biased remarks were prevalent and I chose to push them
under the carpet. However, the nagging question remained in my mind and I started to
introspect about how these preconceived notions could be dealt with. And I worked around
championing gender equality through empathy and behavioral changes.

7. Tell us about the Women Leadership Development and D,E&I programs in Numly. Has it
been implemented, and if yes, how has it worked?
Numly has successfully implemented comprehensive programs with a collective vision – the
Women Leadership Development and D,E&I programs. Amongst the gamut of programs that
are being implemented across organizations, these programs are designed on the core
foundation that developmental changes are essentially driven by behavioral and cultural
changes within an organization. The D,E&I program identifies skill gaps, addresses changes
in behavioral and critical skills, and recognizes and empowers women leaders to work and
evolve without bias. As opposed to the conventional external coaching formats employed
across organizations, Numly believes that peer-peer coaching not only elevates the
engagement within your organization, but is an experience that is bound to resonate with
employees in terms of connecting, engaging, and networking through an exchange of skills –
and most importantly, by breaking hierarchical barriers. We also have a host of ‘Getting
started’ programs where organizations can get started and onboard their employees with
ample learning material that is bound to transform their learning journey into a peer coaching
experience.

8. What advice would you give to women who want to be a mentor/coach?
The best advice that I would give to anybody who wants to be a coach is to understand that
every individual has struggles, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. And the ability to take
cognizance of the fact that you have to first be a coach before you can become a leader is
imperative. I believe that the coach-learner dynamic is a mutually beneficial learning journey –
where both reap benefits that contribute to their growth. If there is a skill that is unique to you,
the onus of imparting that knowledge to another individual as a mentor or coach lies with you.
Embrace any opportunity to be a coach as it not only minimizes the distance between you
and the mentee but also helps foster mutual trust.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

‘Quit Leadership’– The two words together sound like an oxymoron…like two words that do not belong to one another. After all, the world of business is replete with stories of bold CEOs like Steve Jobs or Henry Ford who built successful businesses through their charisma and their sizably ruthless business streak. While examples like these are fairly common and make for some interesting anecdotes and outcomes under the right circumstances, there is another kind of leader who doesn’t hit the headlines just as often. This is the ‘quiet leader’.

What is a ‘Quiet Leader’?

Firstly, there is nothing meek or shy about quiet leaders. A quiet leader can be just as effective and powerful as their outspoken counterparts. The quiet leaders are a breed of leaders who exercise their power and their leadership through their actions, rather than their words. 

At the heart of the quiet leader lies confidence. They usually are people who adopt solution-driven approaches, and leverage collaboration, logical thought, and encouragement to solve problems Quiet leaders are open, approachable, compassionate, and understanding. They assume leadership positions because they have a reason to care, they are passionate, and committed and not because of a loud voice or a larger-than-life personality.

The Challenges facing Quiet Leaders 

Empowering quiet leaders is essential for organizations since this genre of leaders does not intentionally seek leadership. Their quiet nature can often also be misconstrued for arrogance and their quiet confidence for ego

Quiet leaders are also often introverted and evaluate decisions thoroughly rather than rush into a decision fast. While this is a great trait and is actually a hallmark of good leadership, it can also often be misunderstood as slow decision-making. 

All kinds make up an organization. While there are employees who thrive under quiet leadership, there are also employees who only respond to a hotshot leader who dominates the spotlight and talks a good game. The bias towards dynamic and alpha leaders has been ingrained as a part of the social conditioning. But just like how we had Steve Jobs, the charismatic guy who could make everyone believe in the miracles up his sleeve, we have Tim Cook, the quiet leader who leads Apple’s success story now. 

Simply put- while we might not be used to the idea of the quiet leader, but that doesn’t mean that these leaders don’t exist, or don’t lead well. If anything, quiet leaders can actually be better leaders. And it is the responsibility of the organization to identify, encourage and enable these leaders to improve organizational outcomes.

Coaching and the Quiet Leaders 

It may seem that the loudest voice in the room is the one that gets heard, the quiet person may have a lot more substantive to contribute. As such, organizations have to identify ways to help these leaders excel by helping them define their style and assist them in understanding how they can improve it to make it more effective.

But how can organizations identify these quiet leaders and help them? Clearly, these are not the people who will be vocal about their skills or aspirations. They probably will be unaware of their leadership qualities.

Here is a look at how organizations identify and capitalize on the power of their quiet leaders:

Identify the quiet leaders 

The first step to this puzzle is to identify those quiet leaders. While managers and organization leaders can keep their eye open for the employees who display the qualities of quiet leaders, taking a data-driven approach makes this an easier and effective process. 

Tests such as 16 Personality Factor self-evaluation tests or Behavioral Skill Analysis provide dependable, data-backed analysis of skills of employees. Those high-performing employees with quiet leadership traits can be easily identified using this data-backed strategy. 

With this approach, organizations also get insights into the areas that these quiet leaders need help in. Organizations can then effectively connect these employees to the right coach and set them on a path of successful leadership.

Connect them to the right coach 

Managing the complexities of today’s organizations, global, distributed, hybrid, or remote teams, and the like needs quiet leaders to develop their communication styles and build authentic connections. Connecting the right coach to quiet leaders especially becomes important when our definition of normal has changed. Ensuring the right coach-learner pair augments the quality of outcomes organically.

Organizations have to help the quiet leaders identify, understand, and reach their true potential. Having the right coach guiding them along this path is imperative for success. As such, organizations have to connect their quiet leaders, both potential and existing, to the right coaches who can help them learn to be better leaders by harnessing the qualities that they have and developing the qualities that they need.

The chemistry between the coach and the learner has to be right for it to deliver the right outcomes. Taking a data-driven approach and employing a technology-enabled, AI-driven coaching platform can make it easier to connect the right coach with the right learner and ensure better coaching outcomes.

Discover the leadership style

Coaching is a great tool for organizations to help their quiet leaders identify and develop their leadership styles. The leaders and those across the organization need to learn that ‘quiet’ does not translate to ‘ineffective’ and ‘loud’ does not always mean ‘effective’. 

A leadership style is essentially the path the leader uses to communicate, influence, or guide others. Connecting the quiet leaders to the right coaches helps them build on their self-awareness, identify their natural tendencies, and evaluate and understand how these can help or hinder their efforts. 

Coaching does not take a cookie-cutter approach to leadership development but rather, it takes a more individualistic approach to leadership development. By doing this, it helps the quiet ones learn and internalize executive skills like influence, inspiring confidence in all stakeholders, networking, stress management, strategic thinking, managing a diverse team, and visioning, etc., and helps them develop a leadership voice of their own. 

Quiet leaders need engagement too

It is a misnomer that employee engagement activities have to be directed at the employees only. Leaders too, are essentially employees.

Just identifying high-performing employees and prompting them to leadership roles does not essentially guarantee great outcomes for the organization. We need to remember that even at the highest levels, leaders need the same things that the everyday employee needs to stay engaged – acknowledgment and growth opportunities. 

Giving leaders, especially quiet leaders, an opportunity to enhance their career paths and providing them with the right tools to move ahead in their careers shows that the organization values them and their contribution. 

It is also an active way to show that the organization is invested in their career progress and their long-term growth and success. This can hugely contribute to the engagement levels of the quiet leaders as they are not the ones who are too vocal about their needs and yet, would like the same level of acknowledgment and growth as any other leader would.

Build leadership presence 

Many top-level executives are great at their jobs, are hard-working, and have team members who like them. And yet, they are not able to step in firmly into leadership roles. Not only does this impede this executive’s growth, but it also impacts their team members and impedes their opportunities for growth and learning. 

These top executives, the quiet leaders, continue to deliver value through their work but they continue to adhere to the ‘worker persona’ and find it hard to adapt and adopt the ‘leader persona’. This attribute is very commonly seen in women leaders who continue to work very hard, try and avoid mistakes as they feel mistakes can impact their careers more strongly than a man’s, or even avoid delegation or seeking help lest it is seen as a sign of weakness. 

Coaching can play a big role in bringing in the right mindset shift here. Coaching helps individuals identify and understand the root cause of issues and behaviors and increase self-awareness. It helps them understand and accept their personal challenges, and evaluate how to harness the power of the strengths that they have. This approach helps the learners enhance their leadership persona and consequently drives them to perform better as leaders. 

In Conclusion 

Quite leaders might not be the norm, but given the direction the world is moving towards, the rise of the global workplace, constant change, and the millennial and Gen Z as the dominant demographic in the workplace demand leaders who are more empathetic, resolute, and resilient. Coaching these quiet leaders to find their style of authentic leadership not only benefits them but also benefits the organization immensely. Since being quiet and the qualities that come with being quiet are behavioral, coaching proves to be a valuable cog in the wheel because it is only with coaching that it is possible to drive behavioral change.

Connect with us to see how you can help your top executives become effective leaders, irrespective of how quiet they are, by using an AI-powered coaching platform. 

From "Remote Boss" To "Virtual Leader" - How to Make the Transition

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

If 2020 was a test of resilience, the year ahead is going to be a test of growth in the face of adversity. 

As the world and global markets gradually resume the journey back to normalcy, organizations have to put on their thinking caps and identify growth strategies that will help them bounce back from the 2020-infused business and profit doldrum. 

For HR leaders, the year ahead is a crucial one – HR strategies have to build resilience into the organizational DNA and create a culture that enables, empowers, and drives organizational and employee agility.

2021 – A year of strategic importance

Building critical skills and competencies are going to be of strategic importance in the coming year. 

  • From improving business results, executing business transformation, and achieving operational excellence, HR has to design strategic initiatives that will help in achieving these outcomes. 
  • Along with this, skill development initiatives have to also become dynamic and future-forward to match the pace of change and ensure that employees accrue the right skills that benefit the organization tangibly. 
  • Additionally, addressing change fatigue and identifying factors that lead to work friction becomes essential as work from home burnout becomes an unignorable reality. 
  • HR strategies have to be focused on building a robust leadership pipeline by focusing heavily on diversity initiatives and recalibrating leadership training programs. The tumultuous past year and the overhaul it has brought about in the world of work demands that leadership coaching is relevant to meet the needs of the COVID era. 

Even a cursory glance at this list makes it clear that HR has a tall order to fill. However, the cure to most of the ills plaguing the organization (and consequently HR) lies with coaching. And while organizations can leverage external coaches to drive their coaching initiatives, creating an internal coaching culture becomes imperative to drive sustainable change.  

Why do organizations need an internal coaching culture?

Coaching is more than an antidote for fixing performance issues or a perk to attract and retain employees. 

Many organizations are turning to coaching to develop a more robust leadership pipeline, develop managers who can also function as coaches and guide their team members, and help employees navigate and develop their career paths. 

Coaching has also emerged as a viable alternative to close the skills gaps, the labor shortage, and low productivity chasm – especially as VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) demands organizations, and hence employees, to become more agile than ever before. 

But how can organizations create an internal coaching culture? The devil here lies in the details. 

  • Coaching has to be integrated into the workplace culture 

The primary objective of coaching is to drive lasting change. Coaching can achieve this lasting change because it is continuous, enhances skills, and enables behavioral change. 

To create the right coaching culture, it is essential to integrate it into the workplace culture so that the organization and employees can proactively identify challenges and opportunities for growth and have robust development-oriented, relevant coaching conversations. 

  • Eliminate guesswork and replace it with data

HR teams have to improve their capability and pace to map skill requirements with skill development initiatives. Banking on the end-of-the-year assessment or review to identify skilling, reskilling or upskilling needs of the workforce is a reactive strategy that can no longer contribute to organizational agility. 

HR has to focus on adopting a more proactive approach that helps the organization become more responsive to change. 

According to Gartner TalentNeuron™ data, “the total number of skills required for a single job is increasing by 10% year over year, and one-third of the skills present in an average 2017 job posting won’t be needed by 2021.”

However, to achieve this, HR has to move away from the traditional approach that employs guesswork to identify workforce needs. They, instead, have to adopt more data-backed strategies that proactively identify the current needs of the employees and ensure that the skill gap is duly closed by aligning skill development initiatives with organizational goals. 

Creating such an internal coaching culture demands that organizations use tests and assessments such as the 16 Personality Factor Tests, behavioral skill development tests, and the like, which can help organizations identify the exact coaching needs of the employees and replace the guesswork with data. 

  • Develop an army of internal coaches

Creating an internal coaching culture demands developing an army of internal coaches. Identifying high-potential employees who are interested in coaching their peers is a good starting point. 

Managers can contribute heavily to coaching, especially since they are well aware of team dynamics, where their business unit needs help, and where employees need coaching. However, they have to master the art of coaching as well so that they can coach effectively and build healthy mentor-mentee relationships. 

Organizations can also look at subject matter experts to contribute to coaching initiatives. 

Identifying these potential coaches, assessing which skills, they are lacking, and which skills they need to develop to coach effectively can help organizations develop their army of coaches. Complemented with external coaches, such an ecosystem can create a vibrant coaching culture and blend it into the organizational DNA. 

  • Embed coaching into talent and performance management 

The COVID crisis has dramatically impacted goals and employee performance plans. Remote work is becoming the norm. Performance and talent management are becoming a steep climb, especially as business leaders feel that performance management systems are not accurately helping them identify top performers. 

While the annual performance review had been an acting barometer until recently, today, waiting it out till the end of the year can only lead to frustrated talent. While the annual performance review does hold merit, complementing it with regular coaching delivers better outcomes as feedback is constructive and continuous. 

Technology has also made it possible to provide AI-powered nudges to make learning and development more holistic, relevant, contextual, and consequently, impactful. 

In Conclusion 

Organizational structures are becoming flatter and yet, more complex and employees are working with, interacting, and collaborating with more people. 

New work models that were in the testing phase (such as fully collocated, alternating on-site, on-site on-demand, connected remote, work from anywhere models) are all now mainstays. The digital nomads, the new age white-collar workers, are also an integral part of the enterprise today. 

With so much changed, HR has no alternative but to tap into technology to help the workforce stay connected, engaged, and enthused. As the organization and the needs of the employees evolve, HR has to drive the paradigm shift and work towards cementing an internal coaching culture. 

When all leaders, managers, high-potential employees, and subject matter experts become coaches, helping the rest of the workforce move along their career paths, ensuring productivity, profitability, and organizational agility become achievable goals. 

It is time to proactively address the development needs of the workforce and keep the organization moving northwards towards better outcomes. 

Connect with our team of experts and see how employing an AI-powered technology platform can help your organization build a robust internal coaching culture to drive enablement at work.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

“Disruption”- If 2020 were a word, this would be it. 

The COVID-19 pandemic managed to disrupt our entire existence. Today we have a vast majority of people working remotely, self-isolating, and trying to navigate professional lives while managing screaming kids and home-schooling in the background. 

The personal and professional lives of the workforce have been turned upside down. At times like these where uncertainty reigns large, coaching can provide the support to help the workforce stay on track, remain productive, and tackle anxiety and fears of the future.  

Coaching is a critical piece of the puzzle that helps organizations help their workforce adapt to such changing times and a challenging business environment. And while previously coaching was a one-on-one session, the demand of the time is for coaching to get creative and adapt to this new virtual world. 

Why does coaching have to become an organizational priority?

Coaching is a strategy that plays a pivotal role in ensuring retention, building organizational commitment, and keeping the workforce motivated and engaged. During a crisis, such as the one we are experiencing currently, coaching can be that silver bullet that will help the workforce navigate these treacherous times with confidence. 

Organizations focusing on coaching the workforce to help them navigate this new world of work also benefit greatly. This investment in the workforce drives the retention of high-potential talent and can enable better post-pandemic succession and leadership planning. 

Today, when morals are low and fear looms large, coaching employees helps them see the organizational investment in their growth. Coaching helps them not only see the light at the end of the tunnel but also motivates them to find that light if they can’t see it. Coaching is a ‘growth-fostering’ interaction and bolsters an individual’s professional and personal growth and in turn models loyalty and commitment. 

Adapting coaching to this new world of work 

Most coaching relationships in the past have been personal, one-on-one, in-person interactions. The new rules of engagement now make this almost impossible. 

While good evidence suggests that virtual coaching yields almost the same benefits and equivalent outcomes as good old physical one, to yield the best outcomes, organizations have to attend to the following: 

  • A platform to build connections

Technology comes to the rescue to help coaching adapt to this remote world of work. To build strong connections, organizations need access to a robust AI-driven coaching platform offering a range of broad functionalities. 

The platform can capably provide a comprehensive catalog of both hard and soft skills that are tailored into programs for key enterprise functions. It can also be employed to capably connect the right coach to the right employee, and allow skill-specific pairings, feedback, and analytical insights to fine-tune and create robust coaching programs. 

The platform should also provide the flexibility to customize and add the skills needed for key enterprise functions and should be easy to set up and execute. The employees also should be able to connect with both internal and external coaches to meet their coaching needs. 

  • Drive better coaching conversations

Coaching is all about building connections. This becomes the greatest hurdle to cross when we move from the physical to the virtual format. The quality of coaching conversations has to get better as disruption and commotion envelop the world of work. Coaches have to drive elevated coaching conversations by understanding the exact needs of the person being coached, designing conversations that are goal-related, and solve problems. 

Great coaching conversations are more about ‘asking’ rather than ‘talking’. It is about igniting curiosity, guiding and providing direction rather than spoon-feeding ready-made answers. It is about helping employees learn to seek answers by helping them identify roadblocks and take the right steps to move along their growth paths in this new world of work. 

  • Keep things contextual and relevant 

Coaching in the age of social distancing demands for it to become more focused, contextual, and relevant than ever before. Leveraging AI and advanced analytics, coaching can drive context and relevance by helping organizations identify their high-potential employees and the right coaching competencies. 

By using AI, organizations can discover what kind of coaching programs their employees need by analyzing present and historical data. AI-enabled coaching platforms make it easier to identify topics of relevance and help coaches drive better coaching outcomes. Employing detailed self-assessment tests also helps in driving context and relevance by providing data-driven feedback on their strengths and areas of improvement leading to improved quality of interactions.

  • Coaching has to leverage data 

The new virtual environment also demands a change in the feedback format for coaching relationships to deliver greater value. For this, coaching engagements have to be more focused and interactions have to become richer. 

Self-scoring, peer rating, coach feedback, etc. are important touchpoints and ensure continuous learning progress. Additionally, feedback also has to be highly personalized, contextual, and timely. 

A robust AI-driven coaching platform helps organizations provide personalized, contextual AI bot nurture touch points to address each individual’s skill gap while understanding their unique learning process. Actionable insights from rich analytics on skills development, performance, employee engagement, enterprise transformation insights, etc. further make feedback more data-driven and consequently help to make coaching interactions more impactful. 

  • Feature-rich and compatible 

The new world of work has introduced new complexities and challenges for the workforce. From battling work-from-home burnout to defining a growth strategy for their professional careers, organizations need to rework many things as the world becomes virtual and social distancing defines our new work environment. 

It is essential to have a technology-driven coaching platform that allows organizations to add coaching programs according to the skillset needs and also enable rich-integrations with third-party learning content. And keeping in step with the virtual world, the coaching platform should operate in a device-agnostic manner to enable anywhere-anytime coaching. 

In Conclusion 

In today’s uncertain times, coaching not only helps career functions but also plays a great role in driving psychosocial functions of empathy. Coaching involves a deliberate expression of care and reflects emotional support….something that employees across the globe, irrespective of their position, need. 

The only difference between coaching now and then is the increased reliance on technology and ensuring the right technology investments to ensure robust coaching outcomes. 

Connect with us to see how a technology coaching platform powered by AI like NumlyEngage™ can drive successful and highly productive coaching initiatives. 

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

As rapid change and disruption become the norm, what succeeded in the past can no longer serve as a guide to what will lead to success in the future. 

In the recent past, a successful career trajectory started with acquiring and developing expertise in a technical or functional domain. Having the right answers qualified as a barometer of a job well done and would be enough to rise up the ladder. 

‘Command and control’ were the mantra to lead.

However, with the business landscape becoming more competitive, complex, and disruptive, managers and leaders cannot have all the right answers at all times. The new reality demands a shift away from the traditional command-and-control practice to one that is nurturing and provides guidance and consequently helps employees adapt to changing environments with vigor, energy, and commitment.

With the pandemic upending the world of work, bringing in further disruption and new work models, organizations have to accelerate their coaching initiatives to keep employees engaged, prevent work-from-home burnout, and manage change capably while remaining productive. 

Given that the pandemic has canceled all face-to-face meetings and team off-sites, navigating competing priorities demands organizations to increase their coaching capabilities especially as Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA) become an indelible part of our new reality. If we look closely, the role of leaders and managers is becoming that of a coach.

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

As volatility and change become our new constants, organizations have to help their workforce (both managers and employees) navigate their challenges and provide them the right support proactively. Coaching becomes a venerable tool to provide the guidance needed to navigate the new normal and battle change. Coaching is also an effective tool to drive competencies since it is a collaborative and continuous process and focuses on providing guidance by helping others experience their situation from a different and, often, a new perspective. 

While organizations do realize the importance of coaching, what can they do to create better coaches? The answer lies in coaching itself.

One size does not fit all

Coaching conversations have to be individualized and contextual. For coaching to be effective, it has to be compelling to drive change. To enable this, organizations have to identify where employees, managers, and leaders need coaching. 

For employees who have become managers in the pandemic, for example, coaching can be immensely helpful by giving them guidance on how to manage a remote team effectively. By leveraging data-driven assessments, organizations can identify performance gaps – both technical or behavioral, and create contextual coaching plans that give results.

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

Coach the coaches

Given the rising importance of coaching, many organizations have internal coaching teams. However, with the changing dynamics in the workplace, these coaches need to hone their coaching skills further to capably guide the workforce. 

Good coaches drive positive learning experiences. But good coaching demands authenticity, and authenticity comes from knowledge. It is imperative to ensure that coaches keep improving and increasing their coaching repertoire by upgrading their knowledge base, for which they need coaching as well.

Develop your coaching pipeline

Just like how organizations are focused on developing a healthy leadership pipeline, it is equally important to develop a healthy pipeline of coaches as well. This is so because managers leading teams also have to lead engagement, performance, productivity, and engagement of their team members. Managers, hence, are coaches in their own right. 

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

Managers are change agents. Identifying those who can build intentional relationships that drive team confidence and competence can be immensely beneficial for organizations.

Some managers are natural coaches. Despite this, coaching them to become more empathetic, improving problem-solving skills, developing better communication and guidance skills, etc., only helps them become better coaches and ultimately better leaders.

Research shows that among the critical skills that employers look for, coaching is the hardest to recruit. 

By identifying managers who have the potential to become good coaches, helping them develop a coaching approach to leadership, and helping them develop or improve the coaching effectiveness enhances the overall coaching effectiveness of the organization. 

Create the right coaching conversations

Facts have to replace feelings when it comes to driving better coaching conversations. 

When organizations want to develop effective coaches, the feedback has to be rooted in data. Whether it is soft (power skills) or hardcore technical skills, coaching conversations have to be driven by rich analytics.

Leveraging coaching platforms driven by AI and Machine Learning can not only connect the right coach to the right mentee but also provide intelligent, contextual and personalized, and impartial feedback as well as timely notifications and alerts and improve learning interactions. This approach also helps in enhancing coaching effectiveness by providing coaches with the feedback they need to reframe thinking or their guidance pattern to make coaching more effective.

In today’s day of VUCA, coaching has to become a culture within the organization rather than remain as a ‘self-help’ strategy that senior-level executives adopt to improve themselves. When coaching becomes an integral part of professional development at all corporate levels, it becomes an indispensable part of the organizational strategy and business philosophy. Effective leaders, productive and engaged teams, and positive business outcomes then become organic consequences of these efforts.

You can improve employee performance and employee engagement through people connections, internal coaching, and skills development. Connect with us to know more.