By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Organizational resilience is directly linked to employee resilience and resilience is directly linked to the individual’s capacity to be calm and stable during stressful times. 

The last year has caused a tsunami of stress as organizations moved to work from home. The transition continues as we now gear up to embrace the hybrid work. While a lot has been written about employee burnout and what managers and leaders can do to alleviate them, not much discussion is happening on the burnout managers are experiencing.

Why are managers experiencing burnout?

Research from McKinsey shows that nearly half of all employees report burnout. While we do not have an exact number on the statistics for manager burnout, surely the number is not going to be very different. 

Managers have been at the helm of the crisis, steering their teams through extremely challenging times. They have been sounding boards for their team members and the change agents telling organizations how to evolve work processes and collaboration in this new work environment. 

Managers have been placed in a situation that is inordinately stressful where they are at the receiving end of their team’s challenges while facing performance pressures from their higher-ups. If employees have been questioning their paths of career progressions, managers are also in the same boat. Their fears, struggles, and challenges are quite the same as their team members – what should they do to remain visible? How can they meet their teams’ needs better? How can they build trusted networks across the organization? How can they solve challenges that they have never faced before? How can they offer advice when they, themselves, are struggling with the same problems? What skills should they learn to remain relevant in the new world of work? How will they be perceived asking for help? 

Peer coaching can help

Peer coaching is all about creating a network of allies who support an individual’s needs in a non-judgmental and non-evaluative manner. This support helps in driving positive change in the workplace. It addresses the root causes that impede performance in the workplace and lead to anxiety, stress, and ultimately burnout. 

With peer coaching, managers can 

  • Gain new perspectives on the issues plaguing them and the opportunities that they can uncover and leverage to alleviate these challenges
  • Generate feelings of connection, increase trust within the workplace and deliver insights that would otherwise be missing in the work from home environment. 
  • Destigmatize help-seeking behavior and normalize the fact that while we might be operating remotely, our private lives are welcome at work.

Challenges that peer coaching solves

Shifting that isolated feeling 

Managers, just like the other employees in the workplace, have also been experiencing feelings of loneliness and burnout. Any challenge or problem that could easily be discussed by hopping across a desk now needs a meeting invite. Work-life has become infinitely more formal and yet the boundaries dividing work and personal life are blurring fast. 

In this environment, not knowing how others are managing their teams and work can feel overwhelming and managers can find themselves slipping down the rabbit hole of despair that comes from disconnection. This can seem like an insurmountable challenge, but peer coaching can easily alleviate this problem.

With peer coaching, managers can seek help on issues that are leading to feelings of disconnection. It further helps in destigmatizing help-seeking behavior for senior individuals. It further helps in making managers more committed to encouraging their team members to seek help during challenging times. This makes the work environment healthier and ensures that productivity and well-being do not fall at the altar of managing perceptions.

Building connection and driving collaboration 

All managers, across the board, have struggled to manage the complete shift to remote work. With the world of work having shifted into its remote avatar without providing much notice, all connections and familiarity removed from the picture, managers had a tall task looming ahead – to ensure the same levels of productivity and efficiency as the pre-pandemic days. 

Most organizations offered the initial support to help employees settle into this new format. However, almost all, managers included, felt that this cut-and-paste strategy to enable remote work wouldn’t impact productivity and efficiency. In many cases, while these shifts didn’t affect them, what they did impact was mental health and feelings of anxiety.

In this world of work from home, those organizations that enable peer coaching offer a platform to help managers connect with each other and seek answers to their new challenges. The role of a manager extends beyond task management – but how could the managers do the extra bit without the knowledge of how to go about it? 

Peer coaching is the best tool to help managers cope and understand the dynamics of how their roles have evolved.  Old managers are struggling to identify how to keep their teams connected and engaged without the physical connection and new managers are wondering how to build connections with their teammates to drive powerful collaboration.

Managing perceptions and unconscious bias

It is no secret that many managers have, in the past, harbored unconscious biases on what they perceive to be productive and dependable behavior. At one time, those working from home were perceived as less effective workers and were often passed over for promotions. Lack of visibility because one was working from home, often impacted promotions. Spending a disproportionate time ‘at’ work was more welcome and comfortable than accounting for time spent ‘on’ work.

These unconscious biases are now playing out in the manager’s narrative as well. Just like the team members of yesterday, today managers are struggling to become visible. They are also trying to identify how much visibility is too much visibility? How much management is good management, and when do they become micromanagers? What do they need to do to break free from the shackles of unconscious bias so that they can make the workplace more inclusive, freeing, and accepting?

Peer coaching helps managers 

  • Alleviate and manage these feelings and help them remain grounded in facts
  • Identify the best ways to become effective communicators and ensure that they keep their teams highly motivated
  • Uncover and dismantle unconscious biases by virtue of meaningful, contextual, and continuous dialogues that enable change

In Conclusion 

When organizations enable peer coaching, they provide managers the platform they need to seek help, be vulnerable and explore opportunities for improvement. With peer coaching, managers can develop the power skills like that of communication that drive effective collaboration. 

As we enter the new world of work, organizations have the opportunity to grow and become better than they were yesterday. By enabling peer coaching, organizations can effectively build a culture where lowering walls is not seen as a liability, but an asset. 

Better employee performance and elevated manager throughput become the consequence of these actions.

Connect with our team of experts to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can empower your managers and help them with the right tools to lead their teams and themselves to success.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

COVID-19 accelerated our move into the Future of Work and forced organizations and leaders to transition to adapt to the new demands quickly. 

While the pandemic altered the business landscape, it also made it clear that the idea of leadership (that we had) needed transformation as well. The style of leadership that thrived with command and control must move out the door. The idea that strong leadership is shaped by strict direction and delegation and demands dutiful obedience does not fit into the new narrative. 

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

As the world of work continues to grapple with the disruptions to the professional space and personal lives, it is only those leaders who remain effective who have identified the shift that leadership needs. It is clear that leaders can either command or control – they cannot do both.

The Leadership Shift 

The best leaders have always believed that their role is to inspire and motivate others to act – not to dictate. By surrendering ‘control’, leaders invite people to discover their individual potential and build an ‘ownership culture’…one that goes beyond accountability and inspires people to do more than the minimum. 

True leaders do not rise to the top because they want to control or command people. If these have been motivations, then they need to revisit why they chose to become a leader in the first place. 

The pandemic disrupting the world of work and the rising dominant millennial population have made leadership and leadership styles a hot topic of conversation. Additionally, the preconceived notions of strength are no longer conducive in this new world of work. 

Leadership expert Seth Godin succinctly states that it is very uncomfortable for leaders to say, “I want to go over there, and I’m going to be responsible for getting us over there, and no one has ever been over there, and I’m not sure how to get over there, but let’s go.” 

But this needs to change simply because unconventional times need unconventional solutions as controlling, polarizing behaviors and actions disengage and alienate their workforce. 

The Vision Conundrum 

The command-and-control style of leadership leans heavily on “vision”. While vision inspires, motivates, and gives direction and hope, this enchantment with vision presents a disembodied conception of leadership – one that manages to captivate our imagination, but rarely does it have a positive effect on ourselves…think working yourself to exhaustion. 

Vision does promise us a future but makes a huge demand on our lives. So just as a vision has the power to ignite, it has the power to burn out, especially when it comes as an infallible directive. 

The limitations of leadership that remain encrusted in vision become painfully obvious in the time of crisis. Crisis tests vision. Most don’t survive. This is because when a crisis strikes, such as a natural disaster or a sudden drop in revenues, we are already motivated to move. But what leads to failure is not the clarion call to action but the flailing. What people need from leaders is more than vision. They need direction to move purposefully. 

Read: Purpose-Led Engagement for Women and Millennials

This shift to build shared purpose and lead successfully does not come from control-and-command. Instead, it comes from developing the ability to contain, interpret, and respond with reassurance. It helps the workforce reorient, refocus, and stick together by making sense of the prevailing predicament. 

Those leaders who can contain and hold mutual support ensure that work continues and eventually, a new vision emerges. Approaching this from a place of control is counterproductive as it only leads to anxiety and fragmentation – the exact opposite of the desired outcomes that we want from leadership. 

VUCA and the Leader

Organizations of all shapes and sizes now realize that to survive in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment, we need different leadership skills. Controlling leadership behaviors ensure that the distribution of leadership capabilities does not permeate across the length and breadth of the organization. 

As we move into remote work, leaders need to help employees gain more agency by enabling digital adhocracies that rely on individual initiative. This helps employees across the board to become more independent and harness skills that help them make decisions that are aligned with corporate culture, values, and strategy.

The Dawn of New Leadership 

Much like how chefs balance multiple ingredients to achieve a delectable balance of flavors and create masterful meals, leadership skills need to balance humanity and technology. This means that leaders will have to embrace technology to enable work and improve the organization, their job role now demands them to provide employees with a sense of purpose. They need now move away from this old way of thinking that considers control as strength and march towards a mindset of service towards their internal and external customers. 

Leaders today and in the future will have to be explorers who are willing to embrace the unknown, are open to new ideas, and can change course as the world around them evolves. Just like explorers of the past who learned continuously to quench their curiosity, leaders must learn to be perpetually curious and open to dialogue and discovery. 

Peer Coaching to Drive Change 

While leaders need to build technical dexterity, what is even more essential is to increase their psychological capital. 

Leaders need to develop skills such as empathy and have an extremely high emotional quotient to lead effectively in this age of hybrid work. They need to identify ways to transition to virtual leaders from remote bosses. 

All these skills need a systemic shift in thinking patterns and an unlearning of learned behaviors that come with social conditioning and mindsets. Organizations cannot drive these shifts by organizing annual leadership retreats or day/week-long training sessions. These shifts need a behavioral change, one that comes from peer coaching, since it contextually and continuously reaffirms the right actions, provides timely feedback, and is powered by relevance. 

With peer coaching, leaders can develop the right attitudes that help them power through setbacks and negativity with a positive attitude and approach. Peer coaching helps leaders identify the reasons why they need to leave their ego at the door and helps them understand why they need to subjugate their personal agendas for the greater good of the organization. For this, leaders need to build authenticity, self-awareness, and honesty which can be achieved with peer coaching. 

In Conclusion 

Peer coaching helps leaders realize that leadership is not a solo sport but a team effort. It is only by releasing control, delegating effectively, and learning the language of the workforce that employees will join them in supporting their vision and help move their strategy forward. Releasing control can be difficult, but with the right interventions and the right information presented through peer coaching, achieving this no longer remains a pipedream.

Connect with our team of experts to develop a robust peer coaching strategy using a powerful AI-driven peer coaching platform and transform leadership development in your organization. 

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Workforce development programs are crucial drivers of employee engagement strategies across organizations. 

According to research, 93% of employees are more willing to stay with an organization if it invests in their career development. 

The millennials and Gen Z demographic is fast becoming the dominant workforce demographic. One of the key things this generation values is the acquisition of new skills with 87% of millennials citing investments in professional or career growth and development opportunities as key when selecting a job. 91% of the millennials think of their career progression as a top priority.

Clearly, investing in L&D initiatives is non-negotiable, especially as organizations try to get out of the economic slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing their employee skill sets to close the skills gap and increase the digital capabilities of the workforce have become imperative for business success. At the same time, organizations also have to increase their repertoire of critical skills to meet the needs of the Future of Work. Leadership skill development, as you can see, now needs a complete overhaul to help then transition from being a remote boss to a virtual leader. Organizations have to help managers lead teams more efficiently. Building organizational resilience by building employee resilience has become crucial. 

These and many such other changes must be introduced in the L&D initiatives to make them relevant for this hybrid workplace of the future. Consequently, organizations also have to approach their L&D budget allocations differently so that the organization can adapt to unexpected changes proactively.

Crafting a tangible “measure of success”

Training budgets increased from $17.7 million in 2019 to $22 million in 2020 for large companies. The total amount spent on training in the U.S in 2020 stood at $82.5 billion. With these numbers at play, making sure of the ROI from training investments becomes imperative for almost all organizations. 

To achieve this, it is essential to craft tangible “measures of success”, the parameters that determine the success or failure of learning and development initiatives. Some of the key elements to measure here are:

  • Behavioral changes: Measuring whether the training program has brought about the behavioral change in the workplace and evaluate if both individuals and teams are aligned with the organizational values and purpose. Monitoring the relationship between skill development and behavioral change is also essential to increase training efficiency, and improve business metrics 
  • Organizational impact: Measuring the increase in operational efficiency or organizational outcomes as a result of training. A sales training, for example, should result in sales revenue growth. 
  • Skill attainment: Measuring the knowledge levels of the employee both pre and post-training. The learners’ knowledge and skill levels must show improvement at the end of training.
  • Workplace application: Measuring the extent to which the learner is applying the newfound knowledge and skill in her role to improve outcomes and performance. Skill acquisition without skill application is purposeless in the enterprise narrative

However, to achieve good outcomes from L&D initiatives, it is necessary to closely tie these initiatives to the organizational goals and role-based performance goals and inextricably make L&D a part of the performance management process. 

Peer Coaching Drives L&D

Complementing training and skill development initiatives with peer coaching can make L&D initiatives more successful. Peer coaching is a powerful tool to drive team spirit and employee engagement. This becomes more relevant and essential now due to the rise of a hybrid workplace- one that accommodates both remote teams and on-premise teams in tandem. 

The rise of the hybrid workplace brings about new challenges – most of which need the workforce to hone, fine-tune and increase the repertoire of their critical skills such as communication, empathy, collaboration, strategic and critical thinking, and the like. 

Peer coaching delivers a quantified impact across learning and development initiatives because it:

  • Provides a 360-degree view of employee performance: Peer coaching helps employees gain a more holistic view of their performance. Instead of relying only on managers for feedback, peer coaching provides a well-rounded overview of areas of strengths and opportunities for improvement. Peer coaches can give quick and accurate feedback and offer timely advice to accelerate learning and drive accountability. 
  • Empowers and encourages people to learn new skills: Peer coaching does not adopt an instructional approach like training. It is a deeper relationship, one that is ‘freer’ in nature. This perspective becomes the most defining factor of peer coaching. It is because of the nature of this form of coaching that makes people more attuned and welcome towards learning and skill acquisition. Since peer coaches are people who perform similar job functions as the learner, the conversation becomes more relevant to identify blind spots that training programs can miss. Peer coaching also empowers employees as a peer coach acts as that go-to person with whom they can talk directly and candidly when needed and learn by watching them work. 
  • Drives behavioral change: Repetition is essential to drive behavioral change. This is where day-long training programs fail on the measurement matrix. Peer coaching is a continuous process and is greatly needed to build critical skills like empathy, active listening, effective feedback, communication, leadership, etc.  Since peer coaching highlights reciprocal engagement, it facilitates the joint consideration of the process rather than merely listening to spoken words. This type of coaching helps in building an understanding of the “why” in question and, hence, can bring about a shift in behaviors through constant engagement.
  • Increases employee engagement: Peer coaching is also a great tool to build team spirit and camaraderie between employees. It is of valuable assistance when we want to build trust bridges across the organization to bring employees together. This becomes essential especially because hybrid teams, remote teams, and work from home burnout are an everyday reality across organizations.

Peer coaching helps employees build connections across the organization. It can be valuable to drive diversity and inclusion initiatives. It can help new employees migrate from being the ‘outsiders’ to the ‘insiders’ in the organization while helping all build trusted networks that drive career progress. All of these factors contribute heavily towards employee engagement and help build ‘shared purpose’ across the organization.

To make peer coaching outcomes successful, organizations need to design quantitative and qualitative points of measurement. 

Quantitative measurement 

For this, it is essential to leverage a technology-powered advanced coaching platform that helps organizations:

  • Identify the exact skill requirements of the workforce and deliver contextual peer coaching programs 
  • Assess skill needs, employee strengths, and weaknesses using skill assessment programs. The reliance has to be on data – not guesswork or gut feel
  • Use data to make the best coach-learner pairing 
  • Get evaluation insights from managers as well as colleagues to provide holistic feedback on soft and hard skills
  • Get detailed insights from self-scoring, peer rating, coach, and leader feedback both continuously during the coaching and post-completion 
  • Get post-coaching insights like engagement index of both the team and organization and enterprise insights from rich analytics 

Qualitative measurement 

Qualitative measurement must complement quantitative measurement. For quantitative measurement, organizations have to look at the non-numerical data and identify the measures of success. 

So, how employees respond to peer coaches and coaching, how well they can apply their newly learned skills, how aligned they are to the organization, is there a behavioral change, and whether they are engaged and believe in the organizational purpose, for example, become important points to measure. 

It is only when we measure both the qualitative and quantitative parameters that learning and development initiatives can drive a tangible impact on organizational outcomes. 

Connect with us to design comprehensive and effective peer coaching strategies and drive them using the power of AI to drive transformational learning and development results.   

By Varnika Garg, Associate Product Manager

Workplace dynamics change constantly for employees. New situations and challenges at work are common occurrences that can make employees feel stressed and worn out. The pandemic has only made the situation worse, with many employees finding themselves working in silos and feeling even more distanced from their teams and managers. 

But if you ask anyone, whenever faced with a challenge, most people would prefer reaching out to a colleague for help. This is often due to the close bonds that people build with their colleagues/peers at work. 70% of employees say having friends at their job is the most crucial element to a happy working life.

To get more insights into this, we at Numly conducted a quick poll on LinkedIn running for about a week, with the following question:

If you need expertise and do not know who to ask, what are your top methods to find the right person?

  • Ask manager for recommendation
  • Colleague for recommendations
  • Ask during a virtual event
  • Search via people locator tool

Results:

And here are the results, and they were not quite surprising!

With about 46% votes to “Asking a colleague for recommendations”, it is clearly evident that people do value peer relationships and would like to reach out to them when they are stuck and need expertise.

Takeaways:

Peer-to-peer relationships or Peer Coaching is evolving as an essential process for every organization. There are some real and tangible benefits of enabling your employees to interact and solve problems. Helping your workforce develop a close relationship with each other not only prevents them from feeling isolated and unheard, it is also a great way to improve your organization’s engagement levels. 

Some benefits of Peer Coaching are:

  • Increase in productivity and performance
  • Improved team morale
  • Boost in employee retention
  • Increase in camaraderie and engagement

For the current generation, having a well-connected network is highly important. Employees are keen to find new ways to seek and connect with others in their field to seek guidance and knowledge on critical skills development needed for their personal career growth. Organizations that are conducive to create such a trustworthy environment for their employees are highly sought after. 

Solution:

Having understood the importance of Peer Coaching, the biggest question is, how to enable it at your organization?

Numly offers an AI-enhanced platform – NumlyEngage™, that enables Peer Coaching as an extension of eLearning, making it possible for organizations to tap into employees’ hard and soft skills and empower them to coach each other in a structured manner, while leveraging third-party learning content, expert coaches and built-in, AI-enabled coaching programs tailored for all corporate functional groups such as Sales, Customer Success, R&D/Engineering, Women Leaders, New-hires, New Managers, etc. 

NumlyEngage™ helps employees of an organization to connect with each other on specific skills and coach each other in a systematic manner, guided by AI-generated recommendations and tips and content. in turn, organizations will get to experience accelerated revenue, increased performance, and improved employee engagement, especially in the post-COVID-19 era of Working-From-Home (WFH).

Leverage the power of Peer Coaching today! Get a live demo to discover how NumlyEngage™ can help you.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Peer coaching is a relational learning technique where professionals, managers, and executives come together to help each other become better versions of themselves. They do this by creating an environment that’s conducive to learning, self-reflection, honesty, and trust. Many times, they aren’t active participants in each other’s professional lives and have become acquainted through this process. Even so, they’re dedicated to helping each other reach pre-defined goals through self-directed learning. Each person alternately plays the role of peer coach and peer client. 

Getting individuals to wholeheartedly participate in peer coaching can be challenging in many ways. It can be a threatening idea for some. It involves letting your guard down and pointing out your flaws to another individual. If it’s someone you work with, it can be harder to do this. How does one foster an environment where people don’t feel threatened to let down their defenses? On the other hand, when people are ready to self-reflect, how can you ensure they’re led to the desired goals?

The answer to these questions lies in following the principles of peer coaching. With these, organizations can ensure that their peer coaching efforts are fruitful and deliver tangible impact. 

Key Principles for Peer Coaching at Workplace

Create an Environment of Introspection

Fostering the right environment for self-reflection is important. This is key to peer coaching and will help individuals feel comfortable with discussing their aspirations. Ensure each unit or team doesn’t exceed three to maintain a sense of comfort and closeness. Here are a few questions each peer coaching unit can ask to get started:

  • How will we work together?
  • When and how will we meet?
  • What are your expectations, interests, fears, and hopes?
  • What are you uncomfortable with disclosing? (this can be avoided to respect privacy)

Create a Feedback Culture

This is a crucial step in peer coaching. Not everyone is good at giving or taking, feedback. People may feel hurt, and this can create disharmony. How does one avoid getting into trouble with their peers while retaining honesty? Organizations can give the teams coaching on giving and receiving feedback – just a couple of basic rules. The most essential component of this is conveying the importance of active listening. This, along with observation and careful communication, is the backbone of effective feedback.

Set Transparent SMART Goals

Setting the right goals will create the structure for the peer coaching sessions. Each individual must create a set of personalized goals that they want to reach by the end of a set number of weeks. These should include what the individual wants to achieve, what skills they’d like to improve, and what new knowledge they’d like to obtain. Individuals will have to take time to self-reflect and think about their goals from the perspective of both a teacher and a learner.

They can then create a set of SMART goals. This will help them create specific, measurable, assignable, relevant, and time-bound goals that will help them succeed in their endeavors. When everyone is ready with their goals, they have to share them.

Establish a Realistic Schedule

When crafting the timetable for sharing and assessment, it is important to create a realistic schedule. This should not come in between the actual work of individuals. It is essential to take into consideration all their commitments, both professional ones, and personal ones, and then plan the peer coaching programs. Creating an unrealistic schedule will end up with people missing dates and reducing trust in the process. This will be demotivating and cause a dip in the employee growth journey. Setting SMART goals and a realistic schedule is important to create an effective peer coaching system.

Use the Right Tools

The right tools are important since most people are still working from home right now. Even when they aren’t, these tools will prove to be useful. Organizations need online collaboration, communication, and feedback tools to facilitate these processes. There are many such tools online, each that fit specific needs and budgets. Some tools help in adding tasks, due dates, facilitating video calling, and online chatting. These can be helpful during events or moments where people can’t be at the same place physically.  

Everyone Needs to Have the Right Mindset

The right outlook is key for peer coaching initiatives to work. People must be eager to reap the rewards of this process. This is a growth mindset and is essential for anyone to develop – not just professionally but as a human being. It can help to include managers, department heads, and other leaders from the company in these peer coaching sessions as they have specific experience and knowledge that can genuinely motivate others to grow.

Follow these peer coaching principles and get the most out of these fun and collaborative learning processes. It’s an excellent way to facilitate self-development with the right leadership to guide them. 

Leverage the power of Numly to empower your employees with Peer Coaching. Get a demo today!