By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

The future of work centers around people and how they can connect with each other in meaningful ways. While collaborative technology solutions address many of the issues of this new world of work, organizations have to now identify ways to enable employees to increase productivity and stay engaged. 

As the pandemic eases, most organizations are looking at a hybrid work model, one that combines remote work and on-site work. This new world of work needs that organizations retool to address the needs of their employees and drive better organizational outcomes. However, in the absence of physical proximity, it is essential to empower employees to help them develop the critical skills needed to thrive in this new and hybrid workplace. 

Hybrid workplace – new place, new rules

Evolution is now becoming a constant in the enterprise narrative. As such, employee development has become a priority to ensure that organizations can remain on the path of competitive profitability. However, with limited physical interaction being the hallmark of this hybrid workplace, organizations can no longer rely on old methods that worked previously. 

The Learning and Development (L&D) department has to help organizations manage this workplace evolution and help them develop the skills needed to thrive and contribute to organizational outcomes. 

But is it possible to drive learning and development in the traditional, directive manner now? The answer is, no.

The mind-shift 

Survival was top of the mind when we went into the pandemic. As the dust settled, organizations realized that the world of work had indelibly changed. It was time to identify new ways of doing things – tools to drive collaboration, productivity, time management, processes, etc. all became a part of this journey. 

What also became evident that the playing field had changed. 

For leaders, this meant identifying new leadership strategies and shift from being remote bosses to virtual leaders

For managers, this shift signified learning new ways to connect with the team and help them succeed

For employees, it meant identifying ways to improve productivity and output and work on building collective team effort. Then there was the concern of work from home burnout that had everyone on their toes. 

But we have graduated from this space. Now organizations are looking at ways to accelerate innovation, productivity, and organizational outcomes while assessing ways to drive enablement at work and facilitate employee growth through learning and development initiatives that plug the gaps and drive growth. They are also focused on helping employees become more resilient to prevent WFH burnout

The responsibility to identify the needs of the workforce primarily lay with the L&D in the traditional workplace. But with the forces of change accelerating continuously, addressing learning and development needs and personal development needs have to become more proactive than remain reactive. 

Organizations need to address the development needs of employees proactively as it remains one of the major influencers of employee engagement. The millennial and generation Z value learning and growth opportunities as critical ‘perks’. As they are becoming the dominant demographic in the workplace, the focus on learning, development, and growth opportunities become direct contributors of retention and engagement. 

Organizations have to be able to quickly recognize and address the learning and development needs of their managers and leaders as well and make sure that they are in a position to get the knowledge needed to drive the shifts in behaviors that influence the new workspace. 

Being proactive in everything is the only way ahead to build resilience and success into the organizational DNA. As such, the work environment that exists now demands establishing the right processes and structures that help the employee take the drivers’ seat when it comes to their development needs.

How to deliver empowerment in a location-agnostic manner?

The Learning and development department’s role in the hybrid work environment veers more towards delivering empowerment and enablement at work, where work happens, irrespective of where their employees are. 

The way ahead is to help employees build the right connections and identify the right resources that will help them progress ahead in their career path. But before that, they need to clearly identify what their learning needs are. 

With no water cooler conversations to ignite minds, limited physical interactions with others in the organization, employees are holding the short end of the stick when it comes to recognizing what, where, and how they need to progress. Skills, especially, soft skills can be tricky to identify more so because human nature is biased. 

Relying on guesswork or gut feel is hardly an effective solution. Instead, organizations should empower employees by helping them identify their development needs using data. Behavioral analysis tests, 16 Personality factor assessment provide clear data on where development efforts should focus.

This approach needs to be supplemented with a healthy and buzzing peer coaching network within the organization.  With peer coaching, organizations can help employees maneuver their way in the hybrid workplace, close performance gaps, and achieve their professional goals. Additionally, peer coaching is the road ahead to drive thriving diversity and inclusion initiatives and ensure that these are not flaky and superficial. 

Peer coaching outcomes though, have to be measurable. Thus, having a peer coaching platform that allows personalization, supports confidentiality, enables assessment-based learning, and provides feedback become crucial contributors to success. 

Given the needs of the hybrid workplace, an AI-powered coaching platform can make employees more proactive in distinguishing learning and development opportunities by providing AI-powered timely nudges. Such a platform can also provide deep analytics to help organizations assess the efficacy of their peer coaching programs. Insights on skill and attrition dashboards and performance management analytics help organizations determine the success and areas of improvement of the program and coaching and take concrete steps to remediate any gaps. 

By creating a peer coaching network, personal development in the hybrid workplace becomes more than an amorphous concept. It helps employees and leaders to transition into their roles more seamlessly and helps people work better, irrespective of where they are located. It becomes the bridge that connects the organization with the employee in more meaningful ways and fosters interactions that generate action and outcomes. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered peer coaching platform can help your employees thrive in the hybrid workplace.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”. 

If organizations know that investing in one thing could increase employee productivity by 200%, wouldn’t they do it? So, what is this magic bullet that delivers such a productivity wave? The answer rests with ‘training’. 

It is no surprise that employee development initiatives like training are becoming an essential arsenal in the HR ammunition box. 

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Companies investing in training and development have a 218% higher income per employee and a 24% higher profit margin than companies without formal training programs. 

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If this is the case, then shouldn’t establishing a training program be enough to drive organizational success? If yes, then why do so many training programs fail?

Do your employees need training or coaching? 

There is a subtle difference between training and coaching. 

While training is focused on knowledge transfer, coaching is about enhancing skills and knowledge. Let’s take culinary skills as an example. Basic culinary skills can act as a foundation on which we layer general training to learn how to bake the perfect cheesecake. But not all cheesecakes are created equal. And the more you train to make the cheesecake, the better you will get at it. So, a person is taught the essentials needed to bake an acceptable cheesecake over a period of time. 

But what happens when this training is complemented with coaching from a veteran baker? Not only will the person learn to make the best cheesecake but will also learn the tips, tricks, and secrets that take a cheesecake from ‘ok’ to ‘oh wow!’

Training, owing to its basic structure, attempts to ensure that learners will remember the knowledge and apply it. 

But humans usually have very short attention spans. As such, day-long training programs usually fail to make an impact simply because humans don’t remember very well

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70% of new information gleaned from a training program is lost within a day. People forget 50% of the information received from a presentation within an hour!

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With organizations investing billions on training each year, these numbers don’t evoke much confidence. It almost seems like pouring water into a pot that has a hole in it. 

The only way to plug this hole is by coaching since coaching helps to overcome the forgetting curve by ensuring information is repeated at intervals to strengthen and reconstruct memory.  

Why coaching works 

Coaching brings about sustained change because of its very nature. 

Coaching conversations are continuous and, hence, more impactful. 

Coaching is a focused effort and helps employees with the tools they need to navigate their work successfully. The relationship between the coach and the coached (the Jedi) is development-oriented and helps employees identify challenges and opportunities for career growth.

Training could use a little help

HR departments globally are now under pressure to increase the impact of their training initiatives. However, it is myopic to look at training as an activity to just navigate the skills gap. 

Reskilling and upskilling initiatives have become organizational prerogatives. Yes, training can help your employees increase their technical skills knowledge. But the effectiveness of the training program rests on how the knowledge is ‘applied’. 

Technical or any hard skills training can be called successful when employees use this knowledge. They will only be compelled to remember what they learn and apply it when they understand how these skills impact them personally, professionally, and the impact it makes on the organization. 

Clearly, training needs to be complemented with coaching to ensure that organizations are filling their leadership pipeline with employees who have sound technical skills complementing their power skills. Hard skills training is not sufficient to ensure that employees develop the right skills to become forward-thinking, progressive leaders who take the organization further down the path to success.

The objective of all training programs is to ensure that the organization is future-ready, capable, productive, and agile to battle out today’s competitive landscape. And coaching can help an organization develop employees who are not only proficient in their technical skills but also have the capacity to lead the organization on the said path of being future-ready.

Coaching – this is the way the cookie crumbles

Coaching is the silver bullet that helps all the parties invested in it. 

Coaching the managers can lead to high-performing teams since coaching helps managers understand why and how to lead by example. It helps build their EQ, resilience, strategic and critical thinking skills and helps them become better team leaders.

Also Read: If You Want to Win the War for Talent, You Must Train Your Managers to Lead

The employees obviously benefit from coaching – be it for hard or power skills. 

  • Coaching is a continuous process and is directed to bring about behavioral change.
  • It is heavily focused on how learning is not only acquired but also how it is ‘implemented’. 
  • Coaching does not stop when the presentation ends. It stops when the ‘learning’ from the same has been internalized. 
  • High motivation and productivity are by-products of good coaching.

The organization naturally benefits from robust coaching practices since its managers and leaders have the coveted balance of technical and power skills needed to lead the organization towards success. 

Highly engaged employees and elevated levels of employee experience influence people to become more invested and put in discretionary effort. High productivity levels and greater innovation capacity come as a result of the same. A higher ROI on training efforts and a positive impact on the bottom line are the natural outcomes of coaching.

It’s time to modernize coaching 

A one-size-fits-all approach never worked for anything, and it does not work for coaching as well. 

HR departments need coaching programs that improve productivity and performance by reinforcing learning, extending eLearning, and increasing employee engagement. This becomes even more relevant as we delve deeper into the age of remote working or working from home. 

Basing coaching decisions on guesswork becomes counter-productive. In the age of personalization, organizations need to deliver personalized and skill-specific coaching continuously and iteratively. They also need to grow in-house skill sets to complement external coaches to increase their coaching footprint. How can they achieve this?

The answer lies in modern technology. Coaching has to be now modernized and the only way to do so is by leveraging an easy-to-use and comprehensive AI and Machine Learning enhanced AI platform such as NumlyEngage

It comes with custom program templates and rich engagement tools that help organizations identify skill gaps and pair Coaches and Jedi for each skill.  Built-in and customizable processes enhance coaching relationships. 

  • AI-enabled bot addresses individual skills gap and identifies their learning process. 
  • Through personalized, contextual ‘nurture actions’ help in increasing the efficiency of the coaching program. 
  • AI and Machine learning algorithms help to pair the right coach with the right Jedi, which contributes to better coaching outcomes.
  • With the data analytics capabilities, such a platform can assist organizations in understanding the effectiveness of their coaching programs, the outcomes, and the path to course correction by using actionable insights from rich analytics on employee engagement, performance management, and much more. 
  • HR teams can also benefit from the platform’s deep engagement insights to manage, develop, engage, and transform the entire employee experience. This becomes even more relevant as we are diving deeper into the age of remote working and distributed teams. 

There is immense pressure to ensure that employees, irrespective of their location, are engaged, motivated, and skilled to boost engagement and productivity. Organizations also need to keep their employees connected through shared values and ensure that they  are bound to the organization by common work principles and attitudes. 

Coaching is an effective way to drive engagement with today’s employees to make them feel connected and to help them remain engaged to contribute positively towards the organization’s health.