By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

The climate of change influencing global markets continues to put pressure on organizations to improve succession planning. They need to constantly build a strong pipeline of leaders to ensure continued business success. We can credit the rise of leadership development and leadership nurturing programs to this need. 

However, developing a leadership pipeline with people with the necessary hard and power skills has been an uphill battle for most. Day-long or week-long training programs on leadership development are not delivering the intended results. This is primarily because ‘leadership’ is not one skill. It is a set of multiple skills, most of which demand a behavioral change. 

Read: Is Your Leadership Development Initiative Not Working? Here Is How To Fix It

Behavioral change can only be achieved with constant reiteration and internalization. Given human disposition, even the most driven and talented employee will find it hard to remain motivated enough to drive and implement a change unless there is a shift in behavior. 

Managers are valuable cogs in the wheel of organizations looking at developing their leadership pipeline. While identifying high-potential employees is a part of the manager’s purview, making sure that the talent is nurtured and pushed in the right direction is also an essential part of this job role. The manager is the bridge that connects the organization to the employee and, hence, has an important role to play in developing leaders for tomorrow. 

Here are a few compelling reasons why you need to train managers to become better coaches if your organization wants a strong pipeline of leaders to leverage in the future. 

Leadership has to be built at every level

While there are few who move into the leadership pipeline, organizations now have to work towards developing a ‘leadership mindset’ across the spectrum of employees. A leadership mindset is growth-oriented, it focuses on being solution-driven, it is steeped in ownership and critical thinking. 

These are qualities and skills that help every employee do their job better and become more outcome-driven and productive. These skills, or the lack of it, have to be identified, honed and nurtured to develop the capable leaders of tomorrow. Since managers are the ones closest to their teams, they need to be trained to coach their teams to help the teams develop these skills. 

Coach to drive performance 

A leadership pipeline can only be called a strong and mature one when it includes people who have emotional intelligence and technical intellect. Managers are the best people to identify which team member lacks in which aspect and are well aware of areas that need development.

The team’s performance is one of the primary responsibilities of a manager. In this world of rapid change, managers have to inspire their teams to become performance-driven, and not instruct them. They can communicate in the language that inspires to maximize team performance. However, most managers admit that they don’t coach their teams and stick to disseminating technical and functional skills and only review performance because they don’t know how to coach! 

When managers become better coaches, they can proactively help their team members identify areas of improvement and ensure employees track and achieve their goals proactively.

Goodbye surprises and awkward conversations

Coaching managers to develop stronger teams and individuals helps them understand the strength of coaching. Once they learn and understand how coaching helps them to drive their team, they can identify and implement all the changes and strategies needed to develop a high-performance team. 

Coaching managers also leads to better team engagement, fewer awkward conversations, and no surprises when it comes to performance management. When managers themselves become coaches, they know how to guide individual team members proactively along their career paths by providing contextual, unbiased, and regular feedback. 

They also become more capable of identifying issues early and help their teams become better problem-solvers. They can help their team members be more agile and adaptive towards change and also become more innovative. 

Establish the difference between managing and micromanaging 

Managers have to be on top of everything and make sure that their teams meet their goals and targets. However, often managers end up micromanaging everything, thereby removing individual autonomy and freedom from the equation. The result is a team that is highly dependent on instruction and is unable to make the right decisions. When managers micromanage, they send out a clear message that the team members cannot be trusted. Is it then a surprise that members of such a team do not qualify to be future leaders?

With coaching, managers can understand the subtle difference between managing and micromanaging. It helps them identify the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and gives them the tools they need to bridge these gaps most appropriately. 

Instead of instructing, managers then enable a growth mindset within their team members, which helps the latter believe that failures are learning opportunities and obstacles are opportunities in disguise. 

Finally, given the rise of the millennials and Gen Z as the dominant demographic in the workforce demands a shift in the way managers lead their teams. Understanding the motivations of this workforce and identifying the best ways to engage with them is essential. For example, this demographic wants managers to be their sounding board for their ideas. They also want to devote time discussing new ways of working and evaluating how they will progress to the leadership path. It thus becomes essential to coach managers to connect with this demographic in meaningful ways so that they can move away from the old method of ‘managing by instruction’ to ‘managing by inspiring’. 

By coaching managers, organizations make leadership development a continuous process. Consequently, they can have an army of qualified, well-adjusted, and high-potential employees constituting their leadership pipeline. 

Get a live demo to discover how NumlyEngage™ can help you coach your managers better and improve employee engagement, performance, and productivity by up to 400%!

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

One of the most pertinent and powerful conversations managers have with their teammates is about their growth and success – not the company’s growth. Not KPI’s. Not targets. But individual goals.

Irrespective of age, all employees have certain goals. When managers identify and tap into those goals, find ways to enable them to reach their goals, and connect with them, employees become more willing to put in the discretionary effort. Better employee outcomes and higher productivity then become natural consequences of the effort.

Let’s take a look at some basic tenets on how managers can effectively coach their teams.

Personalize it

Personalization has become such an intrinsic part of our lives that without it nothing works; coaching included. 

With retailers offering personalized experiences even for online shopping, can employees be motivated by a sub-par experience when it comes to something as important as coaching?

To build successful teams and to become good coaches, managers have to personalize the coaching program to make it relevant and contextual for their team members. A novice/ new employee will have different coaching needs than an expert. Managers need to understand where to drive coaching with instruction, where they need to provide constructive correction, and where they need to guide with feedback.

Coaching is not a one-size-fits-all process. Since each member brings something unique to the team, it is essential for managers to have a genuine understanding of each of the team members. To establish a good coaching relationship, managers should ask guiding questions relevant to the employee and provide them coaching in areas that need help.

It’s a two-way street

In coaching, the conversation has to flow both ways. For example, if a manager is donning on the coaching hat, his/her job is not just to disseminate information endlessly. To be a good coach, a manager has to develop the skill to listen and identify the obvious, latent or dormant needs and cries for help, even when they lie unspoken.

Managers have to work on developing their capacity as good listeners without judgment and capably hold space for their employees. Coaching is not just about providing criticism and praise. It is also about being a good sounding board that gives balanced aempldvice and guidance.

Read: The 3 Most In-Demand Power Skills for Managers Today

Stay open to feedback

Coaching needs both encouragement as well as empowerment. Managers have to make sure that they build relationships with employees that lead to better performance. 

Employees are likely to have queries, doubts, inputs, and feedback. They need to know that their manager is listening to them without judgment. They have to know that their managers care for their feedback, opinions, and fears, and will not dismiss or hold employee feelings against them. Feedback also has to be clear, quantitative, and action-oriented.

Creating a safe space for employees is essential for coaching to deliver the intended results. People cannot feel safe sharing views and opinions if they feel that the information can be used against them, or they shall be judged on the same. Approaching things from the employee’s perspective, providing clear and action-oriented feedback, developing the maturity to accept feedback, and not taking things personally are key skills to develop for managers.  

Good coaching starts with developing emotional intelligence. This is because coaching isn’t only about the employee. It is also about how the managers interact with team members, how they understand problems, how they level with people, how sensitively do they deal with opposing outlooks, and how well they identify the explicit and the implied growth needs of their team members. 

Building emotional intelligence in managers helps them empathize with others’ views while having clarity of thought on their own views. Hence, it provides the basis that they need to work closely with their teams to bring about transformational change.

The importance of analysis

Gone are the days when feelings trumped facts

Today, with the growing reliance on data, coaching also has to be driven by data analysis. Be it is hardcore engineering skills or soft skills such as collaboration, learning agility, communication, adaptability, and such, coaching has to be driven by rich analytics.

Analytics provides the engagement insights to drive coaching for successful outcomes irrespective of skill development, performance, employee engagement, or more. Analytics, driven by technologies such as AI and Machine Learning, play a big role in improving learning interactions by providing personalized and contextual nurture actions that include notifications, reminders, alerts, kudos, and more.            

Empowerment and enablement  

One of the most important roles of a manager is to help organizations identify high-potential employees and help these employees to maximize their potential. 

Managers need to know where the employees want to go and also have to be acutely aware of the areas they need to grow.

Often people themselves are unaware of their talents and skills. People also often underplay or overplay their skillsets. Human nature is a complex web to understand. Managers need the right tools to first identify where their team members need help and then help them bridge the gap. 

Leveraging tests such as 16 Personality Factor evaluations, for example, can help a manager identify who is the high-potential employee capable of filling the enterprise pipeline and which one is the brilliant jerk who needs to amplify their soft skills to become a good leader.

Read: What Can Organizations Do to Develop an Entrepreneurial Growth Mindset Amongst Employees? 

The manager is not just the leader of the team. The manager is also the coach. 

Just like a coach helps professional athletes achieve their goals, a manager can also coach his/her team member to  succeed, and as a ripple effect, help the organization grow. 

But coaching cannot be confused with directing. Most managers might ‘feel’ that they are coaching their team when in fact, they are just telling their team members what to do. Coaching is central to improving team performance. The key to successful coaching rests not with telling people what to do but helping them achieve a higher level of action and awareness, by taking carefully calculated steps that matter.

Know more about NumlyEngage Innovation & Engineering Coaching Program

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

What is the main difference that separates a good R&D team from a great one? Most will put ‘technical skills’ on top of the chart. The reality, however, is a bit different. 

Of course, organizations need to bank on their R & D teams’ knowledge and technical expertise to come up with innovative solutions. However, do innovative solutions emerge from learning and textual knowledge alone? Or are innovative ideas the outcome of a seeking, curious mind? A mind that is determined to think out of the box, persevere when things look bleak, have the patience to stay on the quest, and work as a collective to come to the desired outcome?

Soft skills, or power skills, as we see them, are the traits that shape how teams work. 

While hard or technical skills are needed to perform technical tasks, soft skills are essential to create a positive, enabling, and nurturing work environment. The importance of soft skills is often undervalued, but this is changing fast enough. 

The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report states that skills like creativity, complex problem solving, emotional intelligence, people management, critical thinking, and strategic thinking are some of the most important skills required in the workplace.  

Also Read: How Employees with Power Skills Give Companies A Competitive Advantage

Here is a list of some important soft skills that differentiate a great R&D team from a good one.

Customer Focus

R&D teams need to come up with path-breaking innovative solutions. This demands them to be creative thinkers. However, they also have to be highly customer-focused to come up with the right solutions to real-world problems.

Great R&D teams put the customer in the heart of their initiatives. They have the emotional intelligence and the capability to think and anticipate customer needs, understand their pain points and design, and realize what kind of a solution fits the clients’ narrative.  

Collaboration

When collaboration is driving the world, R&D teams are no exception. The great ones are the ones who do not operate in silos and isolation. They cannot be removed from the other departments of the organization and be expected to come up with path-breaking solutions.

Great R&D teams are aligned with organizational goals and objectives. They work and collaborate with other departments and teams to understand how to improve products, identify avenues and opportunities for new product development by evaluating variables such as customer pain points or technological evolution. These teams realize that ‘teamwork’ makes the teams work.

These teams are highly focused in their collaboration efforts and identify and design systems and processes that drive alignment and teamwork.

Persistence and Tenacity

These traits bring in the ‘never say die’ attitude on the table. The team members are highly motivated to seek out challenging work and areas for innovation keeping customer advocacy in mind. They are also future-focused and employ their creative and strategic thinking skills tenaciously to serve the customer better.  

However, persistence and tenacity do not just mean keeping at it when things get complicated or if a particular solution takes longer than expected to come to fruition. It also means possessing the ability to recognize when a particular effort is going down a dead end.

A great R&D team can tenaciously pursue a project. But it also knows when to press the breaks, take account of the situation, re-assess and re-evaluate and then get back on the road to discovery with no loss of enthusiasm.

Communication and Networking Skills

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes”, said Henry. J. Kaiser. 

Given that the modern workplace is interpersonal, R&D teams have to have strong networking and communication skills to identify these problems and convince the concerned stakeholders about why they need resolution.

No matter how great a solution, it has to be backed up with a strong argument. Great R&D teams have a great technical vocabulary, and they back this up with their communication and networking skills to navigate the complexities of the modern-day workplace. They ensure that their technical, communication, and networking vocabulary build strong arguments with understanding and empathy.

Adaptability

With the world being in a state of constant flux, there are always ideas for innovation. However, for this, the teams need emotional intelligence to identify pain points and challenges and be open to their evolution.

High-powered R&D teams have very high levels of emotional intelligence complementing their technical intelligence. This combination gives them the throughput to become more adaptable and responsive to the constant state of flux that envelops the entire business landscape. It is the adaptability that gives these teams the capacity to be productive, even when things get challenging.

Planning and Execution

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – No matter how great an idea, it will exist only in an amorphous state in the absence of a plan that brings it to life.

Great R&D teams are also great at planning and execution. They approach innovation in a highly methodical and organized manner. They are aware of the importance of timelines and know that without clear planning and robust execution, achieving their goals is highly unlikely. 

These teams have exceptional delegation and organization skills. The teams are self-motivated, great at time management, and have high ownership levels complementing their accountability levels. The high accountability and ownership levels ensure that they stick to the execution schedule to ensure timely delivery of the project.

Leadership

Leadership is almost an attitude in these teams – an attitude that helps each individual take complete ownership of their tasks, be helpful towards their teammates, and think as a collective and not as an individual. The leadership attitude helps all these team members remain invested in the project. 

Leadership skills such as decision making, intuitiveness to evaluate business and market trends, technology and product evolution, and customer demands, lead to powerful R&D initiatives. Great R&D teams empower all their team members with this leadership mindset – a mindset that makes them place the team above themselves.

Also Read: What Organizations MUST Do to Create Innovation Culture and Grow Strong R & D teams

A cursory glance makes it obvious that these soft skills contribute to the ‘greatness’ of a team. These soft skills, or rather, power skills, give teams the thrust they need to be successful in their outcomes. And ultimately, it is these skills that separate the ‘good’ from the ‘great’.

Are you coaching your R & D teams on these soft skills? With NumlyEngage™, you can deliver measurably greater employee engagement and employee & business growth through a structured approach to soft skills development for innovation in R&D.

Get a demo today

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Industry disruption and technological change are present-day reality. 

Digital information networks have made the world more connected than ever before. Opportunities to grow and cross-fertilize innovative ideas across the organization are becoming more plausible. 

These changes are bringing about a renaissance of sorts in a department that has somehow continued to retain its traditional format – the R&D department. 

However, companies that are successful in pushing the R&D teams out of their traditional avatars have turned this department into a major powerhouse for business. Think about industry leaders like Amazon, Google, Apple. All of these companies have created a strong innovation culture that has permeated to their R&D teams. 

So, what can organizations do to create an innovation culture and grow strong R&D teams?

What is an innovation culture?

An innovation culture, simplistically, creates a climate that is conducive to innovation. 

In such an environment, employees are growth-oriented, keen to take on challenges, and eager to come up with new ideas for value creation. They can do so because the organization is supportive of new ideas and idea generation. 

Organizations with an innovation culture also encourage and reward discovery. 

Innovation culture and the R&D team 

The pressure on organizations to build and deliver world-class products is only increasing. This trend is not going to change. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations have to boost the innovation culture in their R&D teams to make it stronger. 

How can they achieve this?

Deliver world-class innovation

An innovation culture demands a high level of accountability from all those working in this segment. Everyone is expected to be hyper-focused on delivering the best product, services, platforms out into the market. These people not only have to be focused inwards to explore innovation opportunities but outwards as well to make sure that they out-innovate competition. 

But this culture begins with a philosophy that is almost analogous to parenting. Parenting demands that you give a child both roots and wings. Thus, at an organizational level, it is essential to ground creative and innovative minds in accountability towards organizational goals, focus areas, capabilities, and commitments. 

It involves 

  • Identifying the barriers to innovation and helping the R&D team members see where their work fits in and where it could go. 
  • Helping them seek out and enabling opportunities to interact with people who can help them grow and excel in areas where they might need help. 
  • Reinventing the concept of productivity. Instead of relying on traditional productivity metrics such as on-time delivery, productivity has to be linked with time spent on research and discovery and value generation. 
  • Reinventing and fine-tuning business processes so that these don’t become impediments and barriers to innovation.

Focus on building a strong culture 

Innovation culture is rooted deeply in the growth mindset. 

Growth mindset is a belief that intelligence can be fostered, abilities can be developed, and that mistakes are not signs of failures but opportunities for improvement. 

To develop an innovation culture in the R&D teams, organizations have to create systems that support employees to grow their skills and abilities. These systems have to help employees remain on the path of continuous learning and continuous improvement to become change agile and recognize their own value and potential. 

These processes have to generate energy within employees to improve and excel. They also have to have the right measurement metrics to help employees understand their barriers of excellence and success and then provide the right tools to scale this chasm.

A strong innovation culture also lies deeply rooted in being customer-obsessed. Developing the ability to think ahead and to think from the customer’s point of view involves an amalgamation of scientific and creative skills. Skills like empathy, observation, critical, and strategic have to be cultivated so that the R & D teams can create products that customers love.

Additionally, to create a strong culture, organizations also have to focus on creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive technical excellence. This involves not only improving the technical dexterity of the employees, but also honing their problem-solving skills, adaptability levels, creative thinking capabilities, and curiosity. It also involves developing the capability to apply continuous learning to technical challenges to come up with creative and innovative solutions. 

Grow a strong team 

Driving innovation culture demands developing strong teams…teams that are focused and motivated to excel in their job roles and eager to push the envelope a little bit further each time. 

The first step towards this involves providing clarity in roles and responsibilities, expectations, and outcomes. When employees are acutely aware of what is expected of them, it becomes easier to map the steps needed to achieve these goals. 

Managers play a critical role in helping team members gain clarity regarding their roles and responsibilities. They are instrumental in pushing team members to raise the bar through positive reinforcements. They are critical in raising the employee engagement and employee experience bar to have team members who willingly put in discretionary efforts. All of these initiatives rely heavily on power skills. Working on these aspects helps in generating energy within the team members where they become self-motivated and innovation inclined. 

When implemented, all these efforts help in creating an innovation culture that helps in growing strong R&D teams. 

While organizations will need to look at the technical dexterity of their workforce, they have to focus more on developing the power skills of their employees. This is simply because being innovative, is a Power Skill. 

The AI and ML-powered NumlyEngage™can help you grow a strong team, build an innovation culture, and deliver world class innovation. Get a demo today

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon – what’s common between these billion-dollar companies? If we look closely, we see that their fortunes were an outcome of making innovation a part of their central business strategy. 

Google started as a search engine. Amazon was an online book store. Microsoft’s first product was a version of the programming language BASIC for the Altair 8800 “microcomputer”. These organizations were successful with their initial product offerings. However, would they hold the behemoth’s status had they not been laser-focused on building breakthroughs and coming up with strategies that provided greater value at cost, redefined channels, built new markets, and new business models?   

Disruption is our new normal. Organizations globally are looking at ways and means to transform their business, improve their customer experience, identify new markets, and create competitive differentiation. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations must assume disruption to be a constant and then take concrete steps to foster innovation as a part of the company strategy.  They additionally have to foster innovative strategies, identify and eliminate obstacles, manage risk, and craft the optimal metrics and set the right measurement expectations. 

Organizations that follow this path can remain innovative and profitable in the face of disruption.

But what is needed for innovation to happen? Innovation comes from ‘minds’…the minds of the most valuable assets that any organization has – its people. 

To build innovation into a strategy, organizations need to build the innovation mindset in their people. What does this mindset consist of?

The capability to identify and seize new opportunities 

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“We cannot solve our problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

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Innovation happens when the workforce is geared to look for and identify new opportunities. This can only happen when employees start with the mindset that things can be done differently. If something is ‘broken’ how can it be fixed? Does this present an opportunity? Is there an opportunity blind spot? Can something be done better? 

Pretty close to an entrepreneurial mindset, this mindset helps employees become more solution-driven in their approach. It consequently makes them growth-oriented by helping them internalize that in every adversity lies opportunity. 

The willingness to think 

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“A goal without a plan is just a wish”

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Developing the capability to identify opportunities is one face of the coin. How to make it work is the most important part. To achieve this, organizations have to help their employees build their capacity to think, be it strategically or creatively, to come up with working solutions. This demands the capability to objectively think through the problem and the solution, identify the risks involved, and then take the calculated risks needed to achieve the business goals. 

Develop entrepreneurial mindsets 

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-“Train your brain to think more clearly. The mind is everything. What you think, you become” – Jack Ma

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One of the most coveted traits of successful entrepreneurs is their capability to think outside of the box. Thinking outside the box is a mindset that asks you to treat each difficulty, hurdle, challenge, and failure as an opportunity to grow. This mindset, called the growth mindset, is a set of beliefs that program individuals to believe that intelligence can be fostered, leadership can be developed, and talent can be nurtured.

Helping employees develop a growth mindset helps organizations remain agile in the face of change by helping them look at difficult situations as a challenge. It encourages people to experiment with ideas to scale these issues by leveraging their strengths. Where they find themselves falling short, employees are then self-motivated to improve and employ all the strategies they know, old and newly developed, to solve a problem and hence consequently boost innovation.

Create better solutions 

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“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination” – Fitzhugh Dodson

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Organizations need to increase their capacity to create and deliver great solutions to improve their innovation game. Given that an organization is not an amorphous concept, its capacity to create better solutions is directly proportional to its employee’s capacity to think of great solutions. 

It is thus imperative to help the employees identify where they are on the solution graph, identify which skills they need to work on to improve their thinking prowess, assess how they can boost collaboration and creativity in themselves and their team members. Only then, these employees can develop game-changing, creative solutions in a faster or less expensive manner. 

To navigate this path successfully, employees have to develop the capability to create action-oriented and clear goals. These goals can be in the form of project plans, work allocations, follow up meetings, project status reports, expected stage-level outcomes, etc. that will help them move from point A to point B. 

Develop a sense of urgency 

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“Either you have a sense of urgency today or a sense of regret tomorrow”

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Innovation does not take place when we put things off for later. That’s the perfect recipe for a dish called ‘missed opportunity’. To increase their capacity to innovate, organizations have to ensure that they secure the complete commitment of their employees. And this commitment comes from having a strong sense of urgency. This urgency emerges from accountability and ownership of tasks and a problem-solving approach to achieving their goals. 

A sense of urgency does not mean having your employees run around like headless chickens being busy in the business of busyness. It instead means developing the innate capabilities to prioritize, categorize, and optimize workflows to ensure maximum productivity and timeliness. 

The interesting thing about all these traits mentioned above is that these are power-skills, skills deemed essential for organizations to successfully navigate the shape-shifting business landscape of today. 

These are all behavioral skills and hence need constant reaffirming so that they become second nature to all individuals. Companies need to use data-backed channels such as personality assessments and behavioral skill assessment tests to evaluate the exact skill requirements of employees. Once that is done, the employees need to be connected with the right coaches to help them hone and improve these skills to keep the wheels of innovation churning in the face of disruption. 

Let’s connect to discuss how we can help you identify, attract, and retain top talent and grow the next generation of business leaders.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Technological evolution, changes in demographics, and the subsequent transformation of social norms have made today’s workplace significantly different from what it was even a few years ago. One area that these changes have impacted greatly is that of employee engagement and employee experience.

With an increasingly tightening job market, organizations are coming to terms that having employees who are excited to simply have a job is a vestige of the past. Motivating, engaging, and thereby retaining talent is now a priority. The tricky part is that with the demographic change in the workplace, motivations driving engagement have changed. 

While non-monetary perks have risen in importance, agile work environments are becoming more popular. Employees today want to be connected to the organization by a sense of shared purpose. Learning and development initiatives are now important drivers of employee engagement.

With so many changes happening in the workplace, one thing is crystal clear – employee engagement is now all about powering up the workforce and ensuring enablement happens at work. 

How can organizations do that?

Target a specific audience for engagement

Gone are the days when one engagement model could be rolled out across the board in an organization. Millennials and Gen Z, two of the fastest-growing demographics in the workplace of today are driven by ‘value’ and want this theme to resonate across all the activities of the organization – employee engagement included.

Employee engagement also has to ensure that it reaches all the employees – remote workers, part-time workers, contractual workers, and frontline workers. Whether they go to an office or operate from a virtual one, it is essential to keep all of them engaged irrespective of when and where they work from.

Given these dynamics, organizations have to sharpen their employee engagement focus and look at targeting the specific needs of specific audiences such as first time managers, women leaders, and inside sales representatives. 

In today’s day of flagging engagement levels, it is imperative that organizations understand that the rules of engagement that would fit a new hire, for example, could be very different from the long term employee. Engagement here for long-term employees could also mean getting all employees aligned with the organizational and strategic changes.

Engagement for women leaders, for instance, would drive greater results if it is focused on creating mentoring opportunities, identifying the specific hurdles at work alleviating them, and providing a more inclusive, empathetic and learning environment.

Thematic exploration

In the new world of work, employee engagement has to be a highly targeted activity. Instead of looking at employee engagement as one big picture, it makes sense to look at the tiny pieces that fit in to create this picture.

A good place to start this thematic exploration is by understanding what employees want and expect their workplace to fulfill. Agendas that are relevant to today’s workforce include many areas and are not limited to their work alone. Topics like diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, leadership development, and anger management are important words in the vocabulary of today’s employees.

For example, research shows that 57% of employees feel that organizations should be more diverse. Organizations have to look at this seriously as diverse teams routinely outperform non-diverse ones. Diversity initiatives for employee engagement also have to now move beyond day-long training programs that do not compel a change in behavior. However, this goal can be achieved successfully by leveraging mentoring as a tool. 

Work-life balance has also become an important driver for employee engagement. Research shows that employees with good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t. This makes work-life balance an important employee engagement agenda. 

Anger management in the workplace is another pertinent topic in the engagement conversation as it impacts the office environment. Creating an empathetic environment and enabling employees with the right set of tools to specifically manage explosive situations can augment employee engagement across the table.

Focus on skill development as the basis of engagement

Organizations have to take a close look at their learning and development initiatives. Along with focusing on technical skills development, they have to also now focus heavily on power skill development in the enterprise. 

Power skills such as communication skills, growth mindset, self-management, interpersonal skills are all extremely beneficial to organizational health. Power skill training on decision-making, communication, and problem-solving can lead to better team relationships. Focusing on developing these skills as a part of engagement initiatives can help employees build deeper and more meaningful relationships at work, thereby boosting engagement and also leading to a more robust bottom line. 

According to an MIT Sloan study, power skills training in specific areas yields a 250% ROI over a period of only eight months.

It is high time that organizations revamp their employee engagement strategies and focus on creating meaningful exchanges at work over things that impact work and employees. 

It is all about creating a workforce that works with passion and feels a profound connection with their organization. Increasing engagement at work is now a strategic priority for obvious reasons. It is time that we approach it in a strategic manner as well.

Try NumlyEngage™ platform. Companies around the world are leveraging it to deliver measurably greater employee engagement and business growth by bridging the growing soft skills gap in enterprises.

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3rd and 17th December, 2020