By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

The threat because of which we retreated in haste, from office buildings to kitchen tables or home offices, at the onset of the pandemic, seems to be abating. Today people are gearing to return to work as the pandemic comes under control. However, the reactive stance that businesses assumed at the onset of the pandemic, no longer remains a valid strategy to design the hybrid workplace. 

As the world of work moves towards a hybrid avatar, seamlessly amalgamating work from home with on-premises, organizations are moving to create transformational strategies to ensure business success in the future. The future of work is now centered on how you work. Not where you do it from.

The hybrid workplace needs a transformational strategy – one that is intentional and purpose-driven. This strategy will remain incomplete if enterprises do not account for the impact of this world of work on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. 

The extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic threw greater light on the racial and societal inequities in our society. While enterprises were hiring and were greatly focused on diversity, the move to the hybrid workplace has shifted priorities. 

A recently concluded report on workplace culture and inclusion shows that 

  • Only 53% of employees rate their workplace diversity, equity, and inclusiveness culture as healthy. 
  • 58% feel that their organizations still have undefined diversity and inclusion goals. 
  • More than 67% feel that their organizational leaders need to do more to drive diversity, equity, and inclusion across the organization.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are playing a big role in enterprise transformation. A report from McKinsey highlights how diverse and more inclusive organizations are more profitable than those that are not. While diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are good for business, the time to do more than just pay lip service to these initiatives is now. 

Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion matter even more now

COVID-19 gave organizations a chance to evaluate and reconsider what workplaces should look like. Ushering in the Future of Work and driving the focus to build a hybrid workplace demands a technological transformation to ease the logistical nightmare. But the hybrid workplace also shows the promise of being a cultural facilitator. This is because the work environment becomes more boundary-less while bringing in geographically distant workers closer. 

Thus, to access a greater talent market and to support geographically dispersed teams, bringing strategic focus on designing relevant diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives becomes paramount. 

From Technological Hybridity to Cultural Hybridity

In the hybrid workplace, employing technological hybridity will be commonplace. New platforms, tools, and technologies will drive better workflows and processes. And just like this technological hybridity, it also demands a more intentional move to enable the coexistence of multiple individual identities. This becomes especially relevant in today’s context where employees desire a greater alignment of individual identities and the value system of the organization.

Organizations need to work intentionally towards creating an environment that fosters and encourages inclusion, and diversity and promotes equity. 

Leveling the playing field is essential

At present, most organizations are focused on managing the day-to-day challenges of managing remote and in-person teams. However, along with this, they must now focus on creating a playing field that is even and fair to all. And we cannot create an even playing field unless we address the unconscious biases that may be at work dividing in-person and remote employees and those coming from marginalized and underserved communities. 

Accounting for the need of all employees is mandatory

Diversity, inclusion, and equity are the key components that ensure that organizations function better and innovate faster. As the workplace becomes hybrid and relies more on technology, organizations need to reskill and adapt to the demands of digital transformation to help employees manage the climate of change. This reskilling and upskilling extend to power skills that drive collaboration and innovation while accounting for the needs of ‘all’ employees. 

Undoing unconscious bias is imperative for engagement 

The hybrid workplace will need to focus heavily on undoing unconscious biases and work towards becoming more inclusive to drive transformational organizational outcomes. A focused effort into diversity and inclusion unlocks new opportunities to accelerate reskilling and simultaneously nurturing a mindset of continuous learning. 

By becoming more intentional about their diversity, inclusion, and equity strategy, organizations ensure that they level the playing field and allow all employees equal opportunities. These moves drive better employee engagement as employees feel that the organization is invested in their growth. This also strengthens the organization’s ability to manage change and foster growth. With time, the organization becomes more inclusive and diverse. 

How Peer Coaching Can Help

Just like how technology is driving the workplace, technology can drive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives as well. Moving towards a culture focused on continuous learning leveraging peer coaching can be a strategic starting point for the same. After all, with knowledge comes power. 

Peer coaching is an effective medium to change unconscious bias. That is because bias can only be removed by virtue of continuous and contextual interactions to drive behavioral change. Employing a technology-powered peer coaching platform can help employees identify their growth needs and address challenges that impede professional progress. 

The opportunity to access coaches to drive growth makes sure that the people in the D&I umbrella are not struggling to identify growth pathways, can easily navigate the organizational network, and build trust bridges across the organization.

The rules of engagement have to evolve in a hybrid workplace. We can no longer afford to take a cut-and-paste approach to important initiatives such as diversity, inclusion, and equity. Those organizations who take data-backed and technology-powered approaches for their initiatives will be more successful in their efforts simply because their efforts will be more structured, organized, contextual, and relevant to the workforce. 

Connect with us to see how we can supercharge your diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives with our AI-powered coaching platform. 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

One of the key priorities for HR is to identify avenues to improve employee performance and drive employee growth. Invariably, HR turns to traditional learning and development programs: training, conferences, and webinars and often even employing the infamous job-shadowing or cross-training. While these traditional opportunities have their place an employee’s life, these annual or bi-annual activities are hardly impactful enough to drive employee engagement, productivity, or retention.

And yet, we keep doing the same thing expecting different outcomes. The irony is unmissable. 

But now this story has to change. The gargantuan change and disruption that the pandemic has thrust upon organizations are compelling them to re-evaluate strategies to drive employee engagement and productivity while working to close the skills gap, both technical and critical. That apart, organizations need to also focus on creating a winning culture that helps teams go through change and strengthens organizational resilience. 

For this, organizations need to focus on building organizational EQ skills, and to do this they need to turn towards Peer Coaching.

Peer Coaching integrates expertise across teams 

Peer Coaching creates small groups of selected employees from across the organization who come together to learn from each other and coach one another to navigate work challenges. It is an informal method that allows employees to share their expertise and provide assistance and feedback to each other to overcome challenges and augment professional development. 

Since Peer Coaching is a great format for developing key skills like self-awareness, empathy, flexibility, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, active listening, problem-solving, etc., it allows for self-discovery in a low-risk setting. 

With insights and perspectives on areas of the organization they do not directly interact with, learners in the Peer Coaching format develop trusting relationships with their peer coach. This further strengthens the organizations’ ability to drive cross-functionality. 

Peer Coaching builds trust bridges and reduces over-reliance on few familiar faces 

The Peer Coaching format is based on non-judgmental, informal conversation. It combats the culture where everyone agrees on shared objectives but works in a way that optimizes functional or business unit goals. It breaks down employee clusters and combats distrust and unhealthy competition amongst team members. But most importantly, it helps in building trust bridges between team members and peers outside of the team. 

By engaging peers in the coaching process, the coaching activity is more democratized. This reduces the dependence of the organization on a few familiar faces and helps employees take advantage of the experience of their peers. 

Peer Coaching addresses misalignments 

Peer Coaching builds competence and helps organizations foster interpersonal trust and the value of group goals. As an informal process that is rooted in friendly exchanges rather than evaluative exchanges, it serves as a process to identify and address misalignments within the organizational framework.

With the hybrid work environment being the reality, this process helps in ironing out issues and resolve challenges that impede productivity, creativity, and collaboration. By providing people a forum to open up and address work and personal issues, organizations can increase employee productivity and ensure that all factors that influence employee engagement and experience are positively aligned. 

Peer Coaching prevents WFH burnout and helps teams re-think their future 

The conversation around WFH burnout is real. People now have to balance work, career growth, and life and recalibrate expectations and goals to meet the new world of work. Given the disruption at hand, many employees struggle to manage the challenges brought about by the new world of work. 

Whether it is identifying growth pathways, addressing issues, identifying learning gaps to drive career growth, improving visibility, and building inter-personal networks in remote environments, Peer Coaching helps the workforce with the skills they need to operate in this new world order. 

Peer Coaching drives accountability and opportunity to learn from real-world scenarios

Effective remote teams and WFH teams are focused on building consensus, camaraderie, and trust. They believe in brainstorming and innovation. 

Peer Coaching assists in developing these skills and helps employees grow by experiencing different working styles and feedback from their coaches, who are, ultimately, their peers. 

It enables information exchange and helps learners more about the challenges from real-world scenarios that their peer coaches have experienced. It also enables the smooth flow of tribal knowledge across teams and assists in driving greater accountability for following through on commitments and actions. 

Peer Coaching makes employees more self-aware 

Peer Coaching contributes to an individual’s metacognitive learning. Metacognition is the measure of an individual’s awareness of their own knowledge – what they know and what they don’t, and their ability to understand and control their cognitive processes. 

Peer Coaching helps employees become more self-aware of what they say and/or do or don’t. This awareness influences their actions, both personal and professional, and influences the collective team attitude. 

Self-awareness is also essential to drive meaningful diversity and inclusion initiatives and creates a process for recognizing and reintegrating the disenfranchised.

Peer Coaching for Teams’ Effectiveness 

Peer Coaching helps the entire organization rewire itself for resilience. 

Organization leaders can leverage algorithmic business thinking to hack growth and value and identify the skills needed to transition to this new digital world and use Peer Coaching to achieve them. 

Employees can use data-backed methods to assess their skills needs and reach out to peers to bridge these gaps. 

Peer Coaching essentially helps in developing a coaching culture that is ingrained into the organizational DNA. Team effectiveness then becomes an automatic consequence of Peer Coaching. 

Connect with us to see how our cutting-edge, AI-powered coaching platform to start your Peer Coaching program and help your teams improve their effectiveness.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Offices with the best environment are those where the employees want to work together to share their skills. This kind of collaborative spirit makes the environment productive for everyone involved. It stimulates both personal growth and organizational growth. It’s just a nice and friendly way to grow accountability and mutual respect between employees. This is why it’s a great practice to instill amongst team members in a remotely distributed group as well.

How do you recognize whether peer coaching is for your organization? Let’s explore its meaning, who it’s useful for, and what its benefits are for a remotely distributed team.

What is peer coaching?

Peer coaching involves employees giving and getting constructive feedback from each other. These are trusted people who have interacted professionally, therefore they have the relevant experience to share such feedback. A succinct definition for the same is as follows.

Peer coaching is a confidential process through which two or more colleagues work together to reflect on current practices; expand, refine, and build new skills; share ideas; teach one another; conduct classroom research; or solve problems in the workplace” – Robbins, 1991

Peer coaching refers to colleagues working together to reflect on each other’s capabilities and skills. It allows them to collaborate, build new skills, and teach one another. The third aspect of peer coaching involves employees solving workplace problems as a team. 

Who is it useful for?

According to the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, “Peer coaching is used in a variety of environments, including collegiate and professional athletics, nursing, physiotherapy, and education. In the field of management and organizational behavior, peer coaching is a relatively new form of coaching that’s gaining recognition and respect due to its positive outcomes and cost-effective nature.” 

We can derive from this that many organizations stand to benefit from peer coaching. 

Remotely distributed teams can gain the most from peer coaching. It can be a good solution when the physical and geographical barriers of remote working are a disadvantage. Lack of constant interaction, team-building opportunities, and low motivation are some issues that come to mind. 

Let’s explore the main benefits of this style of collaborative coaching.

Benefits of Peer Coaching for Remote Distribution Teams

Accountability

The main advantage of peer coaching is building accountability within employees. In this setup, it can be difficult to create a sense of responsibility and accountability when people are not physically around each other. Peer coaching establishes a connection between the employees. It also forms a channel between them and the company. This encourages them to be accountable to each other and the company as well.

Builds Leadership Skills 

Peer coaching helps build leadership skills in two ways. First of all, it gives employees the chance to learn how to give constructive feedback. It aids them in learning not to shy away from pointing out flaws or highlighting strengths. These are important leadership and management skills. The second way is by allowing colleagues to watch and learn from each other. In a conventional office environment, it’s easy to watch leaders and imitate their behavior or learn from them. One-on-one coaching such as this creates a similar opportunity between colleagues in a remote working environment, which they might otherwise miss out on.

Accelerated Learning 

According to a 2019 Workday-Bloomberg survey, organizations are 42% more interested in building skills that improve bench strength, grow the next generation of leaders, and effectively compete in the future of work. These are crucial to building a good rapport with customers and colleagues both. When one receives a continuous feedback loop, their self-reflection increases. It’s only natural that one would take measures to improve themselves based on the information they’re receiving. Therefore, learning becomes faster than ever. 

When employees work remotely, there is little to no incentive for them to pick up new skills. Peer coaching gives them the motivation and encouragement to do so. It also gives them the chance to learn from people they have built a rapport with.

Helps in Personal Development

While there may not be a coach physically present, a continuous feedback loop compensates for that. This includes questions that investigate many deep and underlying behavioral motivators. Topics such as personal growth, learning, mindset mastery, and overall motivation are covered. Probing of this nature can transform the individual in such a way that professional development morphs into overall personal improvement. 

Fosters Teamwork 

When colleagues are physically situated far apart, it’s close to impossible for them to create a sense of camaraderie. There are no shared tea breaks and the like when it comes to remote work. But peer coaching creates an opportunity for employees to get to know each other better. It takes it five steps ahead by allowing frank communication about each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. This leads to creating a strong sense of trust, spurring on teamwork, and improves the quality of group projects overall.

Gives Fresh Perspectives

Employees are bound to create fresh perspectives when they exchange information and communicate with each other. If there are individuals situated in different cities or even countries, the chances of learning new things are even higher. Not only is this refreshing, but it’s also exciting.

Practice and Reflection

Such programs give employees the chance to ponder over their place in life. They’ll be compelled to analyze where they would like to fit into the corporate structure, and how they want to grow in their careers. Additionally, they get a partner to discuss these complex thoughts with. This helps guide them to create actionable plans to reach their professional and personal goals.

Peer coaching for remotely distributed teams also creates a way to objectively assess an individual’s skill. Since they are going to be measuring each other on certain parameters – it becomes easy to give points or scores to specific skill areas. 

Remotely distributed teams miss out on the benefits of face-to-face interactions between colleagues. Peer coaching helps them bridge those communication and leadership gaps. It creates accountability and a sense of team spirit. It also helps in measuring and tracking an employee’s skill sets. This will help them grow both professionally and personally. 

NumlyEngage is an AI-Enhanced peer coaching platform that enables organizations to

  • Let employees coach each other on a wide range of hard and soft skills
  • Identify, attract and retain top talent
  • Improve overall employee performance and productivity

Get a live demo to discover how NumlyEngage™ can help you.