As we start to navigate a post-pandemic world, businesses are asking, “How do we build winning teams that last?”
As a population, we’ve just experienced perhaps the most transformative year of our lives. The pandemic has forced us to weather storms we never imagined. While it impacted all of us in different ways, the youngest generation has arguably borne the brunt of this tumultuous season when it comes to the world of work. Many transitioned from the comfort and structure of college straight into the belly of the beast: COVID-19. They experienced constant setbacks, pivots, and uncertainty about their future — all with minimal support along the way.
We don’t know what the long-term effects will be for those who spent their first year of full-time employment under lockdown. But we do know that the key to building winning teams lies in cultivating this generation.
So, as a business, how do you invest in your emerging talent?
Coaching: What Young Talent Needs
Personalized coaching programs are often reserved for the C-suite or upper managers reaching for the next level, but why don’t we offer the same kind of development to our people in their most formative years?
What does investing in coaching for your Gen. Z employees do for your company? A lot, actually:
Promote Soft Skill Development in Safe Environments
According to IBM, the time it takes to close skills gaps has increased tenfold in recent years, from 3 days to 36 days. And, in many cases, the very skills valued most by the C-suite are the ones young professionals didn’t learn in school, like adaptability, time management, and prioritization.
Soft skills are difficult to develop in a classroom setting. They’re experience-based and behavioral; they can’t be learned through reading or lectures. A coach, however, could offer the interpersonal setting young workers need to develop these skills.
For example, if a young employee is having trouble with a lack of clear direction and expectation setting from their manager, they may not be confident enough to bring it up explicitly with their boss. Many young professionals in this situation would try to ignore it, get frustrated, or gossip with their coworkers, making it worse. Many would ultimately leave their roles due to this conflict with their bosses.
Imagine that young employee had a coach who could help them identify the right steps to take in this situation, all while learning soft skills like interpersonal communication, conflict management, and synthesizing diverse opinions in an environment where their role isn’t threatened. Young professionals could be open and honest about their feelings. This kind of learning and development can’t take place effectively in a training workshop.
Allow Your Managers to Focus on the Bigger Picture
Millennials and Gen. Z-ers expect more from their managers than the boomer generation. They want leaders who are truly invested in their development, not just giving orders from on high. The issue is that, in many cases, managers aren’t equipped for this.
Many managers oversee a significant number of direct reports while handling their own workloads. They may not have the bandwidth to give each individual the attention they need to grow. And even if they did, they might not have the skills to encourage that growth. Most managers are promoted for their technical skills or success with clients, not their people or leadership skills.
The average manager’s lack of leadership skills can have a tangible effect on team performance. One study even found that the better a salesperson was at their job before being promoted to manager, the worse their new team performed on average.
Rather than asking managers to take on responsibilities they’re not prepared for, companies could simply connect young workers with coaches who can help them grow. That way, managers are freed up to focus on bigger things.
Coaching Is 50% More Effective Than Training Alone
According to Gartner, employees are 1.5 times more likely to apply the skills they learn in virtual training if that training is paired with coaching. That’s important because, according to one study, only 12 percent of learners apply what they learned in training on the job.
What’s the correlation between the increased efficacy of virtual learning when paired with coaching? With a coach to lead the application of new skills post-training, there’s accountability and guidance that isn’t provided in standard self-led training. Inevitably, this will lead to greater success and less of a forgetting curve for many employees.
3 Steps to Implementing a High-Impact Coaching Program for Your Business
Now that you’ve seen the benefits of coaching for your young talent, you may be wondering how to implement such a program. There are three simple steps you can take to get started:
1. Define Your Objectives and Structure
What is your goal? Who will your coaches be? Do these coaches require training? How long will the coaching program be? All these questions must be answered as you develop your coaching program from the ground up.
2. Determine Participants and Set Expectations
Who would benefit most from the support? Invite them to participate and ensure they’re ready to do the work with the coaches brought in to support them.
3. Learn and Grow
Like any employee program, you must monitor how effective your coaching program is with surveys and observations to analyze where the program can be improved. Tweak what must be tweaked, and then offer coaching to even more team members.
Building a successful team today starts with investing in the future of your people. Cultivate your young professionals now, and they will be the driving force behind your organizational success as the confident leaders of tomorrow!
Sara Ortins is chief of staff of NimblyWise. Mike Sweet is chief executive officer of NimblyWise.
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