What Can Digital Coaching Do for Your Digitization Strategy?

A few months ago, I visited a longstanding client in one of their beautifully architected London offices. Skylights welcomed sunshine into a vast atrium surrounded by long, neat lines of steel and glass meeting rooms. I sat down with my client in one of these cool, clean rooms, replete with every possible digital device for running meetings across geographies. I asked him what was top of mind, and he replied, without hesitating, “Digital! Everything’s digital nowadays.”

I asked what brought on the new focus, and he told me a fascinating story. He said that for decades his company had been running a huge range of intricate and expensive experiments, but collecting only a fraction of the available data. One of the reasons for this was that they did not have the capabilities in place to manage and make sense of the data. The acceleration of various digital approaches had now changed that. And leadership didn’t want to pay the same opportunity cost again. In any part of the business.

In the last three years at Cognician, we have seen the digitization of learning move from an option to an imperative at nearly all our clients. Most of our HR colleagues have been told by their CEOs that all learning must have a digital component. Consequently, they have turned first inwardly and asked the question, “What do we have that’s digital?” The answer is usually their LMS, which is seldom encouraging. The reason is that most LMSs are good at the job of storing and tracking learning assets, but poor when it comes to engaging learners.

This is one of the reasons we have seen a surge of interest in Cognician and our approach to digital coaching. L&D buyers are recognizing that they can accelerate the digitization of their learning function by creating learning and change programs that combine a coaching approach with domain-specific knowledge. The product of their input and investment are high-quality learning experiences that engage learners cognitively and emotionally, supporting complex behavior change. And their reward is reams of human capital data that can inform decision-making, and drive their recruitment, development and retention strategies.

Here are some of the benefits of accelerating your digital strategy with digital coaching that augments your coaching and learning functions.

1. Take coaching to more people and places within your business to achieve behavior change

Digital coaching allows you to combine domain-specific knowledge with a coaching approach. This means you can offer learning experiences on a variety of topics that are mediated through a coach-like experience. Sure, you can get a coach to facilitate a session on customer focus, but is that really their core skill set? Digitization of coaching takes this powerful approach to a wider set of applications, enabling behavior change in various functional areas.

Who in your company could benefit from coach-like learning experiences?

2. Digitize and humanize your assessments in one go

Coaches often prescribe assessments to gain insight into a coachee’s mindset, personality and capabilities, and to help coachees grow in self-awareness. But expense and time mean that these are done pre- and post-coaching engagements, and are thus snapshots in time, rather than a continuous movie-like expression of progress. Also, coachees often don’t like going into survey mode, making this a grudge part of the process. With digital coaching we can do continuous micro surveys, enabling a more consistent view on progress. And instead of going into survey mode, we can collect data through valid reflection questions where learners respond by sliding Likert scales or by choosing from a list of options that are linked to quantifiable variables.

Combining this kind of continual assessment data with usage data, and comparing it with other performance data can simplify the process of calculating ROI. For example, one of our recent clients showed that participants in an onboarding program billed 5% more billable hours than the control group in their first month after the onboarding process.

What could you learn from continually assessing your people?

3. Scale the proven power of coaching

Many of our experienced clients are no longer in doubt about the proven value of coaching. Now they’re simply working on ways to scale their coaching capability and foster a coaching culture. Digital coaching makes it possible to provide performance support for coaching conversations by creating coaching guides (cogs) to prepare for conversations or to unpack them once they’ve happened. The participants for two recent pilot groups in a coaching skills program shared more than 1 000 insights between them, representing a treasure trove of user-generated content as evidence of their engagement with coaching modules. In a post-pilot survey, 93% of respondents said that they would like more training using cogs, rather than traditional web-based learning methods. 73% of the respondents said that they were more engaged than when using traditional web-based learning methods. And 80% of the respondents rated their overall experience as good or excellent.

How could your company benefit from developing a coaching culture?

4. Encourage digital thinking in general

One of the inherent challenges of digitization is working out how to prime digital thinking in key stakeholders. Digital coaching represents a two-for-one offer on this front. Although cogs are literally as easy to use as having a chat, they represent an advanced adoption of technology. And they can be used to deliberately draw a user’s attention to useful digital strategies, helping them to make their own connections and come to their own realizations about how to get ahead in a digital world.

Adoption itself is another key challenge, and engagement wins on one platform are wins for engagement overall. Digital coaching can be pivotal in this area, because it enables stakeholders to reflect on the strategies and tactics for digitization, as well as the benefits. With this kind of reflective practice in place, adoption deepens and it becomes easier to build on your digitization successes.

What could you gain if your people were digital-first thinkers?

5. Get data-driven insight

In digital coaching we collect at least four kinds of data. There is basic usage data, which tells us who is logging in, when they’re active, how many words they write in response to questions, and so on. Then there’s survey data and assessment data. And finally, because digital coaching is designed to elicit reflective text, we’re capable of generating data from natural language analysis on user responses. Depending on the AI service we use for this, we can infer a wealth of detail about the individual, from personality traits to propensity for risky behavior. We can use this information to identify the characteristics common to star performers, to prescribe relevant learning resources to assist under-performers just in time, to inform recruitment and selection, and to drive peak performance overall.

What data-driven insights could inform your business strategy?