How Good Employee Coaches Use Tech as a Utility Player

On a baseball team, a utility player adds value by playing well in a multitude of different positions. Team managers routinely call utility players into a whole variety of situations, because they can count on them to always help.

Technology used to be fairly direct. Early technological advances in the workplace were simply a digital means of doing work you would otherwise have done the same way, through analog means. An interoffice memo became an email. A day planner or Filofax morphed into an online calendar and reminder app. A Rolodex turned into a contacts list. 

By and large, though, each piece of tech kept to its own swim lane and served that one specific purpose that really hadn’t changed much since the days of typewriters.

All that is changing.

Here are five ways tech has emerged as a candidate for MVP in many of today’s digital-native workplaces.Over the past few years technology has emerged not just to be a tool you use as you manage a team, but to be a sort of extra team member—a virtual utility player that allows managers and coaches to achieve new and versatile things we could not do before. Technology adapts to us, and can permeate more than one area of our work—offering exponential and sometimes unexpected benefits.

  1. You can now coach and manage from anywhere
    Because of the advances in mobile apps, web-enabled collaboration tools and cloud software, teams are now more remote, virtual and global than ever before. Some teams are entirely virtual—in fact,  according to one 2016 survey, 48% of teams include members from other nations, and 41% of employees never meet their entire teams in person. The benefits of being able to pull diverse talent and expertise from around the world make this aspect of tech a strong utility play.
  2. You can now assign training that actually works
    Another way technology gives coaches and managers a constant assist is through the multitudes of formats it makes available to us.  According to a recent survey conducted by the Rapid Learning Institute, 94% of Learning and Development professionals say bite-sized online learning modules are preferred by learners. Technology enables us to match information to a learner’s style—giving video to visual learners and immersive training to more kinesthetic learners, for example. Even gamification, in limited doses, can be a huge benefit to engagement and consumption. The availability of bite-size learning—available in the cloud and on any device through your coaching software, allows learners to consume coaching, training, and all sorts of information at their own pace, wherever they are.
  3. You can now give real-time, continuous feedback
    Because your employees are able to access feedback at any time and from anywhere, you can now give it precisely as events occur.. Just-in-time feedback and responsive training capitalize on the principles of operant conditioning—giving feedback close to the event that inspired it to maximize an employee’s ability to hear and incorporate your thoughts or praise.
  4. You can now personalize learning
    Good coaches know that effective training is never one-size-fits-all. But for years economies of scale forced us into classroom settings, cookie cutter curricula, and checklist coaching. Now, advances in smart technology allow us to create a dynamic, employee-led learning environment that can be customized to each person you are coaching. No more group training to group goals that cater only to the lowest common denominator. Technology now lets you provide timely training, peer-mentoring, and on-demand learning opportunities that work directly toward each employee’s own  goals, projects and activities.
  5. You can now see what’s happening
    Cloud-based metrics and management is a real gift of the internet age.  As  a way of gathering and synthesizing data from a multitude of sources, technology now fills the role of a hundred data analysts.  Examine data on how your teams are tracking to their development goals. Take a close look at how particular courses or learning modules are performing. Examine your employees’ 360˚ feedback to understand how your team are collaborating and interacting. Since the advent of “Moneyball”, sports have been leading the way in using data to build stronger teams. Take a page from the athletics coaches playbook, and use smart data to inform your own coaching.

Learn more about the role of technology in coaching your digital native workforce to success in our new white paper: The Tech-Enabled Culture: The role of coaching and feedback in a digital-native workforce.