By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

Millennials and Gen Z are now the dominant generations in the workforce. 

With the Baby Boomer generation on their way out, Millennials and Gen Z represent more than half of the workforce. 

By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. Gen Z is expected to constitute about a quarter of the global workforce by this year. 

Any new generation entering the workforce often prompts comparisons to the generations that came before. Predictions, often accurate and sometimes not, are made on how the generation would disrupt the workforce. 

Millennials, for example, have a different set of motivations to remain engaged at work. They and Gen Z have also been the generations most conversant with technology. Quite naturally, their being in the workforce prompted new forms of communication and a more pronounced shift towards technology.

While these two generations have operated on an ‘always-connected’ mode, they have redefined employee-employer relationships and are now moving into management positions. 

Contrary to the ‘lazy’ and entitled labels that have been assigned prematurely and unfairly to this demographic, research shows that millennials are a hardworking lot, with 73% of them working more than 40-hour work weeks. 26% globally work more than two jobs.   

Gen Z and Millennials have their foot on the gas when it comes to preparing for their career ultramarathon. We say ‘ultramarathon’ because the climate of constant change and disruption have become an indelible part of the business environment. And Millennials and Gen Z, much like long-distance runners, have their eyes on the horizon and are planning for ‘what’s next’. 

These generations are not motivated just by paychecks anymore. While the money is important, these two generations look for a shared purpose and an opportunity to grow and thrive. It becomes essential for organizations to first identify what inspires and motivates this talent to draw up strategies that ensure retention.

Read: Engaged Employees Are Driven by Shared Values and Vision

Coaching emerges as an influential tool to drive, motivate, and retain this workforce. It also ensures that the organization’s leadership pipeline has skilled, qualified, and well-adjusted individuals capable of leading the organization to success. However, run-of-the-mill coaching programs are unlikely to make the cut for this generation. 

Here are some coaching strategies to drive Millennials and Gen Z at work –

Develop strong interpersonal and highly cognitive social skills

Millennials and Gen Z have been the ‘always-connected’ generation with technology being omnipresent in their lives. While they bring an unprecedented level of technical skills to the table, it is hard to ignore their apprehensions on their ability to communicate with peers and form strong interpersonal relationships. 

Most of Gen Z, for example, acknowledge the importance of in-person communication while accepting their challenges with the same. Highly cognitive social skills such as critical thinking, strategic thinking, and problem-solving also need development.

In a business environment where almost 92% of HR leaders place great importance on emotional and social skills, it is only prudent to design coaching strategies that bridge this gap.

Develop Tacit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge is the knowledge specific to job roles, processes, customers, and other organizations’ subtleties such as culture. Passing down tacit knowledge is essential to enable leadership development and drive long-term success. Hence, coaching strategies for millennials and Gen Z need to focus on this heavily.

Contrary to the argument that a day-long training session might suffice here, building tacit knowledge is an instructive process that needs to focus on the technical aspect as well as on building and honing the power skills of the generation. It needs to ensure that along with the technical knowledge, they become more self-reliant, skilled, and thoughtful employees who are aligned with the organization’s goals. Such employees can improvise when things are tough and are quick to identify improvement opportunities.

As Millennials move into managerial roles, it becomes essential to develop this vocabulary to help them pass on tacit knowledge with skill and positively impact the organization.

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

Keep it contextual

The generational machinations of Millennials and Gen Z lend them to be more questioning in nature. They also are driven by context and relevance. They are highly invested in learning opportunities and want ‘careers’ as opposed to ‘jobs’. 

Hence, organizations have to provide them with these learning opportunities as well as provide them with concrete and directed avenues of leadership development.

Coaching plays a vital role here. However, organizations need to build focused and outcome-driven coaching conversations by making them relevant and contextual to their needs. Tests such as Behavioral Assessment tests or 16 Personality Factor tests based on self-evaluation provide context and relevance this generation demands. It also helps them become invested in learning opportunities since these are based on quantified data. 

Leveraging AI-enabled coaching platforms also aid the coaching process by ensuring the right coach- coached (Jedi) pairing. These platforms provide personalized, contextual AI bot nurture touch points to address each individual’s skill gap and unique learning process.

Actionable insights from analytics on skill development, performance, employee engagement, and more can be further used to improve the quality of the coaching conversations and keep these generations invested in their growth story.

Reskilling and upskilling are incomplete without coaching 

According to the Future of Jobs report, more than ‘a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will comprise of skills that are not yet considered crucial for the job today. This, and many such other reports, show the changing skill requirements. And yes, Millennials and Gen Z also fall in this category. 

As a response to this challenge, organizations have accelerated this reskilling and upskilling initiatives. However, these initiatives for the Millennial and Gen Z demographic need to account for the technical upskilling as well as the power/soft skill upskilling. Coaching is the only way to ensure that technical upgrades are complemented with behavioral skill upgrades to make sure that the workforce is prepared to fill their new roles and also become capable leaders of tomorrow. 

Read: Your Reskilling Initiatives Cannot be Successful without Strong Mentoring Programs

Keeping Millennials and Gen Z engaged is hard work for organizations, especially with the rise of the gig economy and the subsequent rise of the digital nomads. The gig economy is characterized by freelance work and short-term contracts as opposed to permanent job roles. ‘Collaborative economy’, ‘sharing economy’, or ‘crowdsourcing’ are some of the synonyms that are fast finding their way into the vocabulary of these two demographics. 

However, while the gig economy is lucrative, it is also ambiguous. Since this economy is growing stronger, organizations have to develop strategies to keep the Millennials and Gen Z workforce away from this lure. 

Recent research from Deloitte shows that job loyalty from this demographic has risen as businesses address employee needs from ‘from diversity and inclusion to sustainability and reskilling.’ 

To keep this workforce engaged and invested, organizations have to appeal to their values, build a sense of shared purpose, show investment in their career growth and have concrete mechanisms in place to help them achieve professional success. These are the primary ways to retain and keep this workforce engaged, and organizations can attain this by having robust coaching strategies in place. 

Connect with our experts to evaluate how you can leverage AI-driven, highly contextual coaching programs to keep the Millennial and Gen Z workforce engaged and invested at work. 

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.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Remote working is no longer the ‘new’ normal. It is just normal now. 

Hallway conversations, informal lunches, and break sessions, pop-in status reports are on hold for an indefinite time. COVID-19 has ushered us firmly into the age of remote working, where even the most traditional organizations had to adopt this trend.  

With the rules of engagement witnessing an overhaul, HR teams, and organization leaders are grappling with the challenge of keeping these newly remote teams engaged – especially since the individuals making up these teams have their own culture and personality. 

There has been a dramatic shift in the manner in which organizations are operating today, making engagement a difficult game to win. While these unprecedented times continue to impact the workplace and the workforce, organizations have to think of creative ways to make this distanced working environment more engaging so that productivity and employee happiness are not at opposing ends. 

Coaching can become a venerable tool in the HR and leadership arsenal to keep employees engaged. Here is a look at why this is so.

Maximize talent despite the distance 

Remote working is different and demands a different way of leading. Organizations thus have to look at how to help their employees navigate this new normal by guiding them on maintaining a work-life balance while delivering maximum productivity. 

Coaching them to adopt a flexible schedule, develop a flexible mindset, and maintain self-discipline in the absence of constant monitoring are important to drive productivity. Helping them become more goal-oriented, detail-driven with elevated accountability and ownership levels also drive productivity and engagement. By coaching effective prioritization skills and helping employees develop a ‘can-do’ attitude, organizations can keep employees effectively engaged while maximizing the talent despite the distance. 

Guide for growth 

Since millennials are the primary demographic in most organizations, it is imperative to remember that growth is a key engagement driver for these employees. In this remote working environment, it is natural for employees to be concerned about their growth within the organization.

Apart from identifying and providing coaching to meet the employees’ technical skill requirements, organizations also have to identify the power skills gaps by using data from assessments such as 16 Personality factor Tests and Behavioral Skills assessments. Coaching employees on these skills will tangibly impact their professional career and help them become high-potential employees. It helps in driving employee engagement by demonstrating investment and interest in employee growth. 

Drive leadership development 

Remote working or not, organizations have to work continuously to drive leadership development in the workplace to keep employees engaged. Whether it is to identify next-generation leaders or identify high-potential employees, a focus on leadership development also helps in keeping employees engaged, especially in the world of remote work. 

Coaching can play a significant role as an enabler of engagement by helping remote employees understand how to navigate complex relationships, establish greater credibility, cultivate strategic thinking, and develop the capacity to exert influence on decision-making.

In the absence of physical interactions, leadership development coaching guides employees on building and leveraging strategic networks and drive authentic engagement needed to proceed in their careers. 

Read: Critical Leadership Skills that High-Potential Women Leaders Should Be Groomed On

Bridge the skills gap 

Despite the world of work going remote, organizations cannot put a pause on their upskilling and reskilling initiatives. However, while technical training programs help in closing the skills gaps, organizations also have to focus on bridging the power skills gap. Skills like communication, collaboration and influence, problem-solving, innovation and execution, strategic thinking, and the like are essential to driving productivity and engagement. 

Developing a growth mindset is also a prized skill that organizations are looking for to increase the employees’ mental tenacity, especially as the world of work becomes increasingly complex and competitive.

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

Coaching plays a big role in navigating the hard skills and power skills conundrum. Owing to its continuous nature, coaching outcomes drive behavioral change, which helps employees understand the organization’s investment in their growth story. This then becomes a powerful driver of engagement since enablement here drives engagement. 

Empower managers to drive successful teams 

The time to walk the ‘lead by example’ talk is now. In this new world of remote working, the eyes of the employees are fixed on managers and leaders. Managers need to be coached on how to identify the individual talents of individual team members. They also have to discover how to interact with and guide less-experienced employees best through challenging work situations and help them progress along their career paths. Many managers are also leading remote teams for the first time and need coaching on how to best guide their teams for success. 

The absence of physical interactions also means that managers and leaders now have to become clearer in their communication skills and build skills to recognize effort, anticipate team reactions, assess team confidence, appreciate employees, and provide effective feedback. Along with this, managers also have to coach their teams for success and learn how to develop their emotional intelligence to keep team motivation and engagement high. 

Read: How Has the Role of Leadership Changed with COVID-19?

Managers can rely on effective coaching to help them navigate the new challenges and implement the behavioral changes to drive highly successful teams. 

The role of coaching is becoming increasingly important to keep employees happy, engaged, and productive in these challenging times. 

Running and working in remote teams requires specific skillsets and new attitudes so that productivity and engagement levels remain consistently high. It is perhaps time to look towards AI-powered technology and rich analytics to drive highly relevant and contextual coaching programs and help employees deliver their best performance and remain engaged. Consistently. 

Upcoming Webinars - Engaging and Up-Skilling Your Employees From a Distance

3rd and 17th December, 2020