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 Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

One of the London Business School case studies, co-written by Herminia Ibarra, mentions that when Satya Nadella took over as the CEO of Microsoft in 2014, he noticed that the company had lost its momentum. Microsoft doubled its profits, and the revenue grew steadily too, but there was growing dissent in the workplace.

The technology was rapidly moving from personal computing to cloud and smartphones, but the culture had turned risk-averse, and senior leadership was not encouraging innovation. Many of them had not even updated their knowledge or skills for a long time. Innovation had taken a hit. 

That’s when Satya Nadella brought a transformation in the organizational culture. He stressed on having a growth mindset in the organization and directed his leaders to shift from the ‘know-it-all’ to the ‘learn-it-all’ culture. He encouraged his employees to fail and learn from the mistakes, which cultivated a learning environment throughout the organization.

The change in mindset enabled Microsoft to become an innovative organization. It was no longer averse to risks.

Microsoft’s revival is a classic case study on why managers have to develop a coaching mindset to promote organizational growth. 

According to a Gallup survey, employees prefer to work with managers who have a coaching mindset.

A lack of coaching culture leads to dissatisfaction among employees and could even result in a high rate of attrition. Employees could easily get distracted due to lack of guidance, and that could affect productivity severely. Distraction can also result in a poor quality of work. 

The only way to stop these challenges is by becoming a coach to your team. Coaching motivates employees. According to McKinsey, 32% of employees feel committed to their jobs when they feel motivated. It also increases sales by 19% and improves profits by 29%. 

However, one cannot become a coach overnight. Gallup’s survey reveals that only two out of ten managers are capable of knowing how to engage employees and develop their strengths.

You will have to follow a few coaching strategies consciously to drive your team to success.

How to Drive Team Success with Coaching?

If you want to be a successful coach to your team, you must take a leaf out of the late Bill Campbell’s teachings, the famous trillion-dollar coach of tech stalwarts like Google’s Eric Schmidt and Apple’s Steve Job. 

Let’s look at a few coaching strategies managers can adopt to make their team successful.

  1. Listen to the team members: My manager does not listen to me,” is a common grouse that employees have. Bill Campbell was known for his listening skills. It is what differentiates a good manager from an average one. To practice active listening, make direct eye contact with your employees. Ask them questions to understand their motivations, ideas, and the challenges they face. Keep your phone and laptop away while speaking to your employees and use a combination of verbal and non-verbal signals to indicate active listening. Your team members feel valued when you listen to them. So, practice it often.

 

  1. Show trust in the team members: Bill Campbell called trust his superpower. Trusting your employees will encourage them to adopt a more proactive approach to their work. An organization thrives only when you trust your employees. Delegate the responsibilities to your team members and trust them to complete it. Avoid micromanaging them. Keep an open-door policy and be non-judgmental. Let your team members know that you are there to support them so they can work on their tasks without any fear.

 

  1. Encourage the team members to explore and innovate: Just like a sports coach helps the players to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, you too must closely monitor your team members and find out their strengths. You must encourage them to push their limits and hone their strengths so they can add value to their tasks. Show your confidence in them, so they are motivated to explore their potential and develop more skills. The more you encourage your team members to step out of their comfort zone, the more innovative your team becomes. 

 

  1. Give continuous feedback: Many organizations are designed to give feedback to employees on an annual basis. However, if you want your team to be successful, you must think like a coach and provide continuous feedback. Conduct regular one-to-one feedback meetings with your team members. Offer constructive feedback and remember to appreciate your employees wherever due. You must also be willing to listen to the feedback your employees have about you. This will help in establishing trust and begin an ongoing communication between the team members and you.

 

  1. Manage internal disputes: A good coach always keeps his team united, even in the times of intense competition. Internal conflicts are common in every team. It can stop the team from progressing ahead. Ensure that there is transparency in your team. Do not tolerate bullying or harassment from your team members. It takes some time for minor misunderstandings to go out of control and become a full-fledged dispute. So, look for red flags and find ways to solve them before it blows out of proportion. 

Conclusion 

Shifting from a managerial to a coaching mindset can be quite a challenge. You will have to take a backseat and let employees learn at their pace with some guidance from you. However, this could become a challenge when you work in a fast-paced environment. You may feel compelled to ask your employees to adhere to the process rather than experiment and explore new avenues. However, you will have to find ways to balance both to create an environment of constant learning and innovation. Eventually, the company that constantly innovates is the one that thrives for a longer time. And innovation can be fostered only when you coach your employees to discover their path to success. 

With NumlyEngage™, companies can foster the culture of coaching and innovation, and deliver greater employee engagement. 

Want to know how? Let’s connect