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Coaching in The Age of Social Distancing

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. 

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