The key to improving individual and organisational performance is an open secret. One-to-one coaching and on the job support are central to success, so why do many businesses struggle? The major challenge is how to adopt these approaches effectively in real-time and at all scales keeping the knowledge and learning relevant, engaging and transformational.
Before building a coaching solution, we wanted to see the problems for ourselves. To get firsthand insights into how best to improve the performance of staff working in city centre shopping malls, I recently travelled to Paris for 3 days. It wasn’t glamorous, but someone has to do it!
We asked 9 people – 1 field engineer, 5 retail and 2 after sales staff and 1 store manager – to engage their imaginations for a few simple tasks. The sessions were one-to-one, together with two group workshops during the week culminating in a great social event in the evening.
Each person was tasked with imagining the best way they could develop their knowledge and skills to excel at their jobs. The conversations were insightful and threw up clear patterns:
- The workforce is transient, knows less than the customer and is allergic to corporate-looking information
- The go to source of information is Google or to ask the person next to them
- Often they fear being exposed if they admit to not knowing something or asking for support
This type of feedback is familiar; it’s something we’ve seen across every business.
These were the issues our hosts put words to. There was clearly something else going on that was unspoken.
The people we were talking to had little empathy for the way the organisation traditionally trained them. Social media has given them a voice, a powerful one at that. They have opinions, they like to rate services, they are story tellers, they like to learn collaboratively, they are competitive and they like to tell other people how to do things. They don’t want to be dragged back to the learning paradigm of their childhoods; told, tested, bored.
The challenge was obvious…
Develop a solution that combined the best of coaching and information; fast interactive, shared and provided precisely at the moment of need.
The organisation had its own needs too:
- The solution had to be cost effective and scalable. Enable 5, 50 or 500 to develop their knowledge and skills together.
- The solution must engage; nurture, develop, excite and motivate individuals to exceed expectations. It must be a two-way conversation with regular feedback and drive good listening skills.
- It must be available in the moment, adapted to the individual’s need.
- There must be a multiplier effect. A single great idea, amplified across the organisation; bouncing from office to office, building to building, country to country.
The organisation didn’t want one gifted coach, they wanted to forge the company into a cognitive network, accelerating the pace at which it was not just the individual but the organisation as a whole that learnt, stored just the best bits of information, pulled nuggets of wisdom out of the far flung corners of the business.
They didn’t want the knowledge ossified, frozen in time, a relic in a glass cabinet. They wanted tools that would enable the knowledge to grow expand, change, as it passed from person to person.
They wanted the knowledge to be personal to the people sharing and receiving it, but at the same time to live for a moment as best practice; there for others to pick up, fashion and hone.
What they wanted was the best ever coach… reliable, trustworthy, confidential, insightful supportive, relevant and urgent. But they didn’t want one coach, they wanted thousands. Because that would make the business extraordinarily competitive.
They knew the value of sharing knowledge and wisdom. They knew it has the potential to transform performance. Not just deliver small incremental steps but to enable dramatic changes that are aligned to the organisation’s goals.
This sounds like an impossible task but we know the foundations you need to put in place to make this a reality:
- Draw on the new ways the world is starting to learn
- Capture data through feedback on resources to get actionable insights for optimisation
- Assemble resources available at your fingertips to react to user needs
- Provide tools to author new knowledge, comment and share
- Give everyone a voice to share, comment, criticise
- Mobilise the masses to customise solutions for me
We don’t have all the answers but we do have the foundations of a great solution. It involves technology and it involves experts and it will transform the way an organisation learns in the same way digital transformed the way we take pictures.
If you want a competitive advantage by unleashing the potential of your organisation, get in touch now.
Paul Brown, Founder