Overcome Stubborns

Trust and Transformation: The Role of Coaching in Employee Development

Sarah Sheehan, founder and CEO of Bravely, says her most memorable coaching story involves a young woman of color who was having difficulty finding the confidence to ask her manager about getting a promotion or a raise.“She had put in the work over time and had done multiple jobs,” Sheehan said during an executive panel discussion at From Day One’s May virtual conference. “This is a case where we were pretty sure on the coaching side that if she were to move forward and talk to her manager, that would propel her to a better place.”The end result was “that she did, in fact, get a promotion, much to her surprise,” Sheehan told moderator Lydia Dishman of Fast Company. “This is a great example of the huge gap where we often give coaching to the people in more senior roles, when really everyone deserves coaching, from your first job to the C-level.”Coaching is the most powerful resource a company can provide its employees because of its individualized nature, says Sheehan. Having a coach is somewhat like having “a work therapist, because what is impacting us in our personal life translates to our professional life and impacts how we show up at work.”Building a Relationship Based on TrustAny coaching relationship must be based on trust. The employee “has to believe you’re there for them and working with them, and really understanding what will be shared or not shared,” said William Agostini, senior advisor, strategic HR at SABIC.The employee also has to have faith that the coach “understands the realities of where they are,” Agostini said. Additionally, “coaches should not be projecting their own culture onto someone else. There are realities of different cultures and situations.”However, coaches also need to see and hear employees as individuals, versus whatever gender, age, or cultural label you might want to put on them, says Agostini. In addition, he recommends giving employees “the opportunity to give you feedback about your assumptions.”Building an atmosphere of trust pays dividends in terms of employee retention, says Isobel Lincoln, SVP of HR for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. Over the past two and a half years, every team member who received executive coaching is still there.“They come into it feeling like, ‘Wow, this is something really for me. I can transform personally and professionally,’” Lincoln said.The panelists spoke during a session titled, "Conscious Coaching: Guiding and Recognizing Talent with a Holistic Approach"Support from key stakeholders, including management, ensures that the employee receiving the coaching is getting feedback “which means that they're also helping to rewrite the script in whatever way they need to, whether it's just elevating and building confidence as a leader or changing some of those behaviors,” Lincoln said.Determining Who to CoachSean Allen, a SVP of strategy & talent solutions, at MDA Leadership Consulting, says he’s been asked to coach employees whose performance issues are so severe that they triggered an HR investigation. “That’s not what I would consider a good application of coaching,” he said.Coaching works best when it is designed to be more aspirational, says Allen. The goal should be to “create role models in change, and change champions,” he said. “But beyond that, from a macro perspective, one thing I know we really rely on is broad and objective assessment based on formalized high potential models. That’s important because objectivity talks to fairness in a way that washes out bias as much as you can, and gives everybody a fair chance.”This approach ensures companies invest in a diverse group of employees, says Allen. He said it also helps determine “who has what kind of ceiling and what kind of potential.”The Role of Mentors and SponsorsMentors and sponsors also have a crucial part to play in helping employees advance in their careers.Sarah Waltman, VP of global talent management and organizational development at Dentsply Sirona says that while coaches assist individuals along their journey, mentoring involves sharing your experiences with mentees. Sponsoring “is really about opening up some doors or finding some access to experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” she said.Coaching, mentoring, and sponsorship can all take place simultaneously. However, an employee might switch lanes, such as going from coaching into mentoring for a little bit, and then returning for more coaching or entering into a sponsorship, says Waltman.Allen says that coaching, mentoring and sponsoring “can and should coexist in a complementary fashion to form a powerful ecosystem of development support.”“For example, as a standard practice we leverage something called the growth network inside of a coaching engagement,” he said. “That brings into play sponsors, mentors, people who are in real business situations with the leader and can give them feedback. So it’s not coaching in a vacuum.”Coaching Remote EmployeesEven though pandemic restrictions have ended, working from home has not for some coaches and the employees they work with.“For me, it’s actually been amazing to have the coaching contacts because even though I'm not in person with a lot of my peers and hires, having some of those coaching engagements has allowed me to get to know them,” Waltman said.But remote work also presents certain challenges for employees when they try to show how they have grown as a result of coaching, says Lincoln.“How can you support them to think through proactive ways for them to demonstrate this new mindset, this new leadership capability, and strategic thinking?” she said. “I think strong ownership and promotional campaigning in an authentic, positive way is something to be extra mindful of, because it’s going to take them extra time and effort to be able to showcase that change they’ve undergone.”Mary Pieper is a freelance writer based in Mason City, Iowa.

BY Mary Pieper | June 14, 2024

STAY CONNECTED

The From Day One Newsletter is a monthly roundup of articles, features, and editorials on innovative ways for companies to forge stronger relationships with their employees, customers, and communities.

Overcome Stubborns
By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza | June 13, 2024

How to Improve the Recruiting Process for Technical Talent

“There’s a record number of candidates applying for roles. I think it takes a good, solid recruiting strategy to ensure inclusivity practices are followed,” said Cody Ledbetter, senior technical recruiter at O’Reilly Auto Parts, during a From Day One panel discussion on how to build an exceptional recruitment process.According to Amanda Richardson, CEO at technical interview platform CoderPad, this increase in application volume is forcing recruiters to make changes. She observes companies abandoning loosely planned, informal interviews for more conscientious decision-making. “It’s nice to see companies being a little more organized, disciplined, and clear in their hiring processes,” she said.Richardson is encouraged by candidate assessments designed to evaluate the skills most relevant to the job–rather than arbitrary pop quizzes, for instance–and happy with the return of the live interview checking both hard and soft skills.It is the confluence of mutually beneficial tech tools and human understanding, said panelists, that is changing the way employers are able to recruit and vet incoming tech talent.Using the Latest in HR Tech to Improve the Hiring ProcessArtificial intelligence has talent acquisition professionals excited for its possibilities and likewise trepidation about its power. And whether they’re prepared or not, AI has arrived in HR technology. So, what are the implications for the hiring process?The panelists spoke to the topic "Hiring Tech Developers: Building a Nearly Perfect Recruitment Process" (photo by From Day One)“I do think that [AI] will make the recruitment process significantly more efficient, in terms of elimination of manual tasks,” said Phil Yob, senior director of talent acquisition at insurance tech company Applied Systems. “I don’t think that at this point it’s solving for the personal interaction you get from working with TA or HR in the interview process. Despite all the good work they can do from automated messaging, face-to-face interaction and the human touch element are big pieces.”Further, panelists urged recruiting teams to be vigilant about the quality of the AI tools they’re using. Ultimately, the TA teams and hiring managers who use them will be responsible for whatever decisions are made. “It’s our job to understand what it’s doing and what it’s weeding out,” said Julia Stone, head of recruiting for eCommerce infrastructure services at Amazon.Assessing Great CandidatesFaced with mountains of applications, recruiters are figuring out the most efficient, effective, and scalable ways of evaluating the qualifications of those candidates. Ledbetter’s rule of thumb is that “the recruitment process should be commensurate with the level of technicality for the role.” Don’t exhaust candidates with overly complex or back-to-back assessments. By avoiding burdensome technical assessments–and limiting questions only to those most relevant to the role–employers can build trusting relationships with top developers.Given the tech industry’s reputation for being less than diverse, Richardson said she’s encouraged by new skills-based hiring practices. “I can assure you that [tech] is still lacking in diversity, but I credit people teams with doing everything they can to really fight against it. I do think the opportunities are around finding a way to assess candidates that’s different from just looking for logos or keywords.”Regarding the legitimacy and consistency of recommendations made by interviewers themselves, the panelists encouraged rigorous preparation. “It’s very important to establish what each person is assessing for,” Amazon’s Stone explained. “By putting more rigor in that structure before you’re going in, you can avoid some of that groupthink.”There may be room for more equity in the hiring process when it comes to hiring candidates from within or without the organization. Yob noted that Applied Systems makes a point of operating consistently, whether the candidate is internal or external. “We’ll give a little credence to their having been a part of the culture, but I think the best thing we can do is to motivate internally by treating them the same and continue to move them through that process to make sure we’re getting the best possible person.”Skills matter, but so does the mode of working. Employers that have called their workers back to the office are returning to the in-person interviews, the panelists said, but that won’t be necessary for everyone. The best way to evaluate a candidate is the context in which they’ll be working. “Some companies give a Slack interview–or on Teams, whatever your product is,” said Richardson. “If you can’t communicate effectively on that channel, you probably aren’t going to be successful in a remote world.” The interview format matters, she said. “Are they going to be proficient not only in the skills but in the environment, too?”Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, CoderPad, for sponsoring this webinar.Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza is a freelance journalist and From Day One contributing editor who writes about work, the job market, and women’s experiences in the workplace. Her work has appeared in the Economist, the BBC, The Washington Post, Quartz, Fast Company, and Digiday’s Worklife.

Overcome Stubborns
By Stephanie Reed | June 12, 2024

The Secrets to Boosting Remote-Team Productivity and Performance

To attract talent, employers need to offer remote and hybrid work, yet also need to create innovative arrangements that work for both the individual employees and the organization. Employees tend to think they're more productive working from home, yet research indicates that's not always the case. How to bridge the gap and ensure optimal performance?“Leaders need to know how to support these distributed workforces in ways that don’t just ensure that they’re physically at work every day, but that they’re performing their best in a sustainable way,” said Sarah Altemus, productivity lab manager at ActivTrak. “This will be a real differentiator for organizations,” she said during a From Day One webinar.ActivTrak provides interactive dashboards and modern software to help employers and managers gain insight into maximizing remote and hybrid workplace productivity. These tools help measure utilization, identify signs of individual burnout, summarize daily and weekly goal progress, and develop more balanced workloads.Leah Ivory, solution consultant at ActivTrak discussed key dashboards and reports that  provide employers and their managers with the tools to identify key results areas, measure individual productivity, measure team utilization, and spot opportunities to reestablish workload balance and engagement.ActivTrak’s software integrates direct email communication to foster coaching discussions among managers and individual team members to strategize performance plans and solutions to engagement challenges.Their one-stop dashboard provides a 30,000-foot organizational and team management system using graphs and charts that can be broken down by department, region, or group. It should be referred to daily to track engagement levels in real-time and over the previous 30-day period to measure goal progress. Users can also see team productivity metrics for every member and weekly utilization trends. Other insights include workload balance reports, coaching and personal insights, and more.These innovative tools help strategize high productivity in remote and hybrid settings. In 2024, most businesses have adapted to offering remote and hybrid work to keep talent. However, without referring to data there is no assurance that investing more in remote or hybrid work policies will be sustainable.Employers often omit key insights by looking at traditional outputs that deliver results like production, revenue, and quality. Altemus says that insights into the inputs, like how employees work, how to use technology, how processes are adapted, and how training influences behavior, offer valuable insights into optimizing remote and hybrid work performance combined with output insights.Sarah Altemus of ActivTrak led the From Day One webinar (company photo)“What happens when we don’t track the inputs is we put ourselves in a position where maybe we overhire, and when we overhire, we’ll have low utilization elsewhere in the organization. We buy technology that goes underutilized and have higher technology costs as a result of it.”Analytical tools revealing personal insights get to the root of the inputs: they identify who is overworking or underworking, who works better and where, and more information that gives employers and managers the opportunity to address the oncoming burnout or disengagement of a team member. Goals can be restructured and more personalized to improve productivity.The ability for managers to access the personal insights of every individual team member presents a highly personalized one-on-one coaching opportunity to strategize a performance plan supporting their upward mobility based on their projects, location where their productivity is the most efficient, or restoring their workload balance.“We’re really committed to being an employee-centric tool, empowering employees with their own data or providing the right level of information to the right level of people in the organization. We’re making sure that executives have access to the data they need for decision-making and managers are able to be effective,” said Altemus.Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, ActivTrak, for sponsoring this webinar. Stephanie Reed is a freelance news, marketing, and content writer. Much of her work features small business owners throughout diverse industries. She is passionate about promoting small, ethical, and eco-conscious businesses.




What Our Attendees are Saying

“The panels were phenomenal. The breakout sessions were incredibly insightful. I got the opportunity to speak with countless HR leaders who are dedicated to improving people’s lives. I walked away feeling excited about my own future in the business world, knowing that many of today’s people leaders are striving for a more diverse, engaged, and inclusive workforce.”

– Jordan Baker, Emplify

“Thank you, From Day One, for such an important conversation on diversity and inclusion, employee engagement and social impact.”

– Desiree Booker, ColorVizion Lab

“Timely and much needed convo about the importance of removing the stigma and providing accessible mental health resources for all employees.”

– Kim Vu, Remitly

“Great discussion about leadership, accountability, transparency and equity. Thanks for having me, From Day One.”

– Florangela Davila, KNKX 88.5 FM

“De-stigmatizing mental health illnesses, engaging stakeholders, arriving at mutually defined definitions for equity, and preventing burnout—these are important topics that I’m delighted are being discussed at the From Day One conference.”

– Cory Hewett, Gimme Vending Inc.

“Thank you for bringing speakers and influencers into one space so we can all continue our work scaling up the impact we make in our organizations and in the world!”

– Trisha Stezzi, Significance LLC

“From Day One provided a full day of phenomenal learning opportunities and best practices in creating & nurturing corporate values while building purposeful relationships with employees, clients, & communities.”

– Vivian Greentree, Fiserv

“We always enjoy and are impressed by your events, and this was no exception.”

– Chip Maxwell, Emplify

“We really enjoyed the event yesterday— such an engaged group of attendees and the content was excellent. I'm feeling great about our decision to partner with FD1 this year.”

– Katy Romero, One Medical

“The From Day One Conference in Seattle was filled with people who want to make a positive impact in their company, and build an inclusive culture around diversity and inclusion. Thank you to all the panelists and speakers for sharing their expertise and insights. I'm looking forward to next year's event!”

– Kayleen Perkins, Seattle Children's

“I had the pleasure of attending From Day One. My favorite session, Getting Bias Out of Our Systems, was such a powerful conversation between local thought leaders.”

– Michaela Ayers, Nourish Events

“Inspiring speakers and powerful conversations. Loved meeting so many talented people driving change in their organizations. Thank you From Day One! I look forward to next year’s event!”

– Sarah J. Rodehorst, ePerkz

“I had the distinct pleasure of attending From Day One Seattle. The Getting Bias Out of Our Systems discussion was inspirational and eye-opening.”

– Angela Prater, Confluence Health

“From Day One did an amazing job of providing an exceptional experience for both the attendees and vendors. I mean, we had whale sharks and giant manta rays gracefully swimming by on the other side of the hall from our booth!”

– Joel Stupka, SkillCycle

“Last week I had the honor of moderating a panel on healthy work environments at the From Day One conference in Atlanta. I was so inspired by what these experts had to say about the timely and important topics of mental health in the workplace and the value of nurturing a culture of psychological safety.”

– Alexis Hauk, Emory University