By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

The future of work centers around people and how they can connect with each other in meaningful ways. While collaborative technology solutions address many of the issues of this new world of work, organizations have to now identify ways to enable employees to increase productivity and stay engaged. 

As the pandemic eases, most organizations are looking at a hybrid work model, one that combines remote work and on-site work. This new world of work needs that organizations retool to address the needs of their employees and drive better organizational outcomes. However, in the absence of physical proximity, it is essential to empower employees to help them develop the critical skills needed to thrive in this new and hybrid workplace. 

Hybrid workplace – new place, new rules

Evolution is now becoming a constant in the enterprise narrative. As such, employee development has become a priority to ensure that organizations can remain on the path of competitive profitability. However, with limited physical interaction being the hallmark of this hybrid workplace, organizations can no longer rely on old methods that worked previously. 

The Learning and Development (L&D) department has to help organizations manage this workplace evolution and help them develop the skills needed to thrive and contribute to organizational outcomes. 

But is it possible to drive learning and development in the traditional, directive manner now? The answer is, no.

The mind-shift 

Survival was top of the mind when we went into the pandemic. As the dust settled, organizations realized that the world of work had indelibly changed. It was time to identify new ways of doing things – tools to drive collaboration, productivity, time management, processes, etc. all became a part of this journey. 

What also became evident that the playing field had changed. 

For leaders, this meant identifying new leadership strategies and shift from being remote bosses to virtual leaders

For managers, this shift signified learning new ways to connect with the team and help them succeed

For employees, it meant identifying ways to improve productivity and output and work on building collective team effort. Then there was the concern of work from home burnout that had everyone on their toes. 

But we have graduated from this space. Now organizations are looking at ways to accelerate innovation, productivity, and organizational outcomes while assessing ways to drive enablement at work and facilitate employee growth through learning and development initiatives that plug the gaps and drive growth. They are also focused on helping employees become more resilient to prevent WFH burnout

The responsibility to identify the needs of the workforce primarily lay with the L&D in the traditional workplace. But with the forces of change accelerating continuously, addressing learning and development needs and personal development needs have to become more proactive than remain reactive. 

Organizations need to address the development needs of employees proactively as it remains one of the major influencers of employee engagement. The millennial and generation Z value learning and growth opportunities as critical ‘perks’. As they are becoming the dominant demographic in the workplace, the focus on learning, development, and growth opportunities become direct contributors of retention and engagement. 

Organizations have to be able to quickly recognize and address the learning and development needs of their managers and leaders as well and make sure that they are in a position to get the knowledge needed to drive the shifts in behaviors that influence the new workspace. 

Being proactive in everything is the only way ahead to build resilience and success into the organizational DNA. As such, the work environment that exists now demands establishing the right processes and structures that help the employee take the drivers’ seat when it comes to their development needs.

How to deliver empowerment in a location-agnostic manner?

The Learning and development department’s role in the hybrid work environment veers more towards delivering empowerment and enablement at work, where work happens, irrespective of where their employees are. 

The way ahead is to help employees build the right connections and identify the right resources that will help them progress ahead in their career path. But before that, they need to clearly identify what their learning needs are. 

With no water cooler conversations to ignite minds, limited physical interactions with others in the organization, employees are holding the short end of the stick when it comes to recognizing what, where, and how they need to progress. Skills, especially, soft skills can be tricky to identify more so because human nature is biased. 

Relying on guesswork or gut feel is hardly an effective solution. Instead, organizations should empower employees by helping them identify their development needs using data. Behavioral analysis tests, 16 Personality factor assessment provide clear data on where development efforts should focus.

This approach needs to be supplemented with a healthy and buzzing peer coaching network within the organization.  With peer coaching, organizations can help employees maneuver their way in the hybrid workplace, close performance gaps, and achieve their professional goals. Additionally, peer coaching is the road ahead to drive thriving diversity and inclusion initiatives and ensure that these are not flaky and superficial. 

Peer coaching outcomes though, have to be measurable. Thus, having a peer coaching platform that allows personalization, supports confidentiality, enables assessment-based learning, and provides feedback become crucial contributors to success. 

Given the needs of the hybrid workplace, an AI-powered coaching platform can make employees more proactive in distinguishing learning and development opportunities by providing AI-powered timely nudges. Such a platform can also provide deep analytics to help organizations assess the efficacy of their peer coaching programs. Insights on skill and attrition dashboards and performance management analytics help organizations determine the success and areas of improvement of the program and coaching and take concrete steps to remediate any gaps. 

By creating a peer coaching network, personal development in the hybrid workplace becomes more than an amorphous concept. It helps employees and leaders to transition into their roles more seamlessly and helps people work better, irrespective of where they are located. It becomes the bridge that connects the organization with the employee in more meaningful ways and fosters interactions that generate action and outcomes. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered peer coaching platform can help your employees thrive in the hybrid workplace.

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.