By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Companies are at the cusp of digital transformation and are making ‘upskilling’ employees their priority. 

Take AT&T, for instance. They decided to overhaul their legacy systems and hence had to upskill their employees to keep pace with the emerging technology trends. 

While an overall upskilling of all employees is necessary, companies have started taking a specific interest in upskilling their engineering and tech teams due to the dynamic landscape of technology. But what worked yesterday may become redundant tomorrow. 

However, merely teaching new programming languages or new technologies is not enough. Tech and engineering teams have to be coached on power skills to bring in behavioral changes in their team members. 

Read: Power Up Your eLearning Initiatives with Coaching

Let’s look at some coaching strategies that can be used to upskill the engineering and tech teams.

7 Upskilling Coaching Strategies

Identify learning gaps

The first step towards designing a coaching strategy is to identify the learning gaps and fix them. One way to find the gaps is by asking each employee to fill a self-evaluation survey to identify their strengths and weaknesses. The assessments must be prepared according to the nature of the employees’ role. Ensure that the self-evaluation survey includes questions about both – the soft and hard skills, so that mentors can create a coaching plan accordingly. For example, a person with excellent hold on Python language may score low on communication skills. For a team leader, communication is as important as technical skills. Such gaps can be found and fixed for each employee.

Set up coaching goals

Once the assessments are done, the HR and the employees’ coach must identify the core goals that the employees must meet to close the skill gaps. They must communicate the goals they expect the employee to meet. There could be two kinds of goals – the short-term goals that aim to close the immediate gaps, and the long-term goals to achieve a specific outcome such as nurturing an employee for the leadership role. The coach must ensure that the goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant to the employee, and time-bound. This will help both the coach and the employee to remain on track. 

Personalize the coaching

No two employees in the same role or title are similar. That’s why the same learning or coaching path for all employees is not advisable. Employees engage better and show up to 180% improvement in their jobs when their coaching is personalized. Personalized coaching involves aligning the coaching goals based on the employees’ strengths and weaknesses, their interests, their readiness, and their current proficiency levels. The coaching journey is tailored based on various parameters and tested in an individualized manner.

Offer one-to-one coaching

The most crucial thing about coaching is to choose the right coach for the right employee. Finding a coach cannot be based on guesswork. It has a science behind it and might require the help of technologies such as AI to assess and find the right match. Based on the skills gap, companies must identify the areas in which the employees require immediate attention, discuss them with the employees, and pair them with the right coach for each area of improvement. Coaches must help employees face the complexities in their careers and focus on transforming their future for better by improving their skills. Although this form of coaching aims to hone the skills of employees; coaches have admitted that the process has also helped them become a better coach. 

Make coaching holistic 

Engineering and tech teams cannot be proficient in technical skills alone. Of course, it is necessary to master technologies and new programming languages. However, these teams also need to acquire soft skills such as communication, negotiation, creativity, and leadership skills to build meaningful engagement with customers and peers. That’s why it’s essential to make coaching a holistic process. Coaches must assess employees based on their soft and hard skills and ensure that the coaching plan covers all the aspects required to build a good future leader. Even the evaluation and progress should be measured based on all the aspects. 

Make communication a continuous process 

A coach-employee relationship goes beyond a few weekly or monthly meetings. It requires commitment from both parties. A continuous and contextual communication process is needed to make coaching more productive and useful for employees. The idea is to build a healthy personal-professional relationship between them. This one-to-one communication can happen through various devices such as phones, tablets, and internal portals. The communication process must also involve evaluating the employees and coaches and sharing the feedback. So, the coaches know what they must do to offer a more meaningful mentorship to employees, and employees would know what they must do to achieve the goal earmarked for them by the coaches. There should also be a system to provide engagement scores to both the coach and the employee to assess and improve their engagement levels. 

Measure the outcome

Evaluation is not a one-off process. It is a continuous process. Coaches must use data analytics to measure the overall progress of employees and offer feedback on their skills, engagement, and performance. Continuous feedback will help employees to become more mindful of their strengths and weaknesses and transform themselves proactively. The outcome of  coaching should not be only on an individual level. The impact must be evaluated on the overall enterprise-level too. 

We have developed a coaching program, especially for engineering and tech teams, to help them learn hard and soft skills. The program will benefit engineers who seek guidance, managers and executives, engineers who wish to coach, and the SME and HR teams. Check out how we help in transforming the engineering and tech teams through our AI-based coaching platform.

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3rd and 17th December, 2020