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2021 HR Priority – Creating an Internal Coaching Culture

By Numly - Leadership Coaching Group
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If 2020 was a test of resilience, the year ahead is going to be a test of growth in the face of adversity. 

As the world and global markets gradually resume the journey back to normalcy, organizations have to put on their thinking caps and identify growth strategies that will help them bounce back from the 2020-infused business and profit doldrum. 

For HR leaders, the year ahead is a crucial one – HR strategies have to build resilience into the organizational DNA and create a culture that enables, empowers, and drives organizational and employee agility.

2021 – A year of strategic importance

Building critical skills and competencies are going to be of strategic importance in the coming year. 

  • From improving business results, executing business transformation, and achieving operational excellence, HR has to design strategic initiatives that will help in achieving these outcomes. 
  • Along with this, skill development initiatives have to also become dynamic and future-forward to match the pace of change and ensure that employees accrue the right skills that benefit the organization tangibly. 
  • Additionally, addressing change fatigue and identifying factors that lead to work friction becomes essential as work from home burnout becomes an unignorable reality. 
  • HR strategies have to be focused on building a robust leadership pipeline by focusing heavily on diversity initiatives and recalibrating leadership training programs. The tumultuous past year and the overhaul it has brought about in the world of work demands that leadership coaching is relevant to meet the needs of the COVID era. 

Even a cursory glance at this list makes it clear that HR has a tall order to fill. However, the cure to most of the ills plaguing the organization (and consequently HR) lies with coaching. And while organizations can leverage external coaches to drive their coaching initiatives, creating an internal coaching culture becomes imperative to drive sustainable change.  

Why do organizations need an internal coaching culture?

Coaching is more than an antidote for fixing performance issues or a perk to attract and retain employees. 

Many organizations are turning to coaching to develop a more robust leadership pipeline, develop managers who can also function as coaches and guide their team members, and help employees navigate and develop their career paths. 

Coaching has also emerged as a viable alternative to close the skills gaps, the labor shortage, and low productivity chasm – especially as VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) demands organizations, and hence employees, to become more agile than ever before. 

But how can organizations create an internal coaching culture? The devil here lies in the details. 

  • Coaching has to be integrated into the workplace culture 

The primary objective of coaching is to drive lasting change. Coaching can achieve this lasting change because it is continuous, enhances skills, and enables behavioral change. 

To create the right coaching culture, it is essential to integrate it into the workplace culture so that the organization and employees can proactively identify challenges and opportunities for growth and have robust development-oriented, relevant coaching conversations. 

  • Eliminate guesswork and replace it with data

HR teams have to improve their capability and pace to map skill requirements with skill development initiatives. Banking on the end-of-the-year assessment or review to identify skilling, reskilling or upskilling needs of the workforce is a reactive strategy that can no longer contribute to organizational agility. 

HR has to focus on adopting a more proactive approach that helps the organization become more responsive to change. 

According to Gartner TalentNeuron™ data, “the total number of skills required for a single job is increasing by 10% year over year, and one-third of the skills present in an average 2017 job posting won’t be needed by 2021.”

However, to achieve this, HR has to move away from the traditional approach that employs guesswork to identify workforce needs. They, instead, have to adopt more data-backed strategies that proactively identify the current needs of the employees and ensure that the skill gap is duly closed by aligning skill development initiatives with organizational goals. 

Creating such an internal coaching culture demands that organizations use tests and assessments such as the 16 Personality Factor Tests, behavioral skill development tests, and the like, which can help organizations identify the exact coaching needs of the employees and replace the guesswork with data. 

  • Develop an army of internal coaches

Creating an internal coaching culture demands developing an army of internal coaches. Identifying high-potential employees who are interested in coaching their peers is a good starting point. 

Managers can contribute heavily to coaching, especially since they are well aware of team dynamics, where their business unit needs help, and where employees need coaching. However, they have to master the art of coaching as well so that they can coach effectively and build healthy mentor-mentee relationships. 

Organizations can also look at subject matter experts to contribute to coaching initiatives. 

Identifying these potential coaches, assessing which skills, they are lacking, and which skills they need to develop to coach effectively can help organizations develop their army of coaches. Complemented with external coaches, such an ecosystem can create a vibrant coaching culture and blend it into the organizational DNA. 

  • Embed coaching into talent and performance management 

The COVID crisis has dramatically impacted goals and employee performance plans. Remote work is becoming the norm. Performance and talent management are becoming a steep climb, especially as business leaders feel that performance management systems are not accurately helping them identify top performers. 

While the annual performance review had been an acting barometer until recently, today, waiting it out till the end of the year can only lead to frustrated talent. While the annual performance review does hold merit, complementing it with regular coaching delivers better outcomes as feedback is constructive and continuous. 

Technology has also made it possible to provide AI-powered nudges to make learning and development more holistic, relevant, contextual, and consequently, impactful. 

In Conclusion 

Organizational structures are becoming flatter and yet, more complex and employees are working with, interacting, and collaborating with more people. 

New work models that were in the testing phase (such as fully collocated, alternating on-site, on-site on-demand, connected remote, work from anywhere models) are all now mainstays. The digital nomads, the new age white-collar workers, are also an integral part of the enterprise today. 

With so much changed, HR has no alternative but to tap into technology to help the workforce stay connected, engaged, and enthused. As the organization and the needs of the employees evolve, HR has to drive the paradigm shift and work towards cementing an internal coaching culture. 

When all leaders, managers, high-potential employees, and subject matter experts become coaches, helping the rest of the workforce move along their career paths, ensuring productivity, profitability, and organizational agility become achievable goals. 

It is time to proactively address the development needs of the workforce and keep the organization moving northwards towards better outcomes. 

Connect with our team of experts and see how employing an AI-powered technology platform can help your organization build a robust internal coaching culture to drive enablement at work.

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