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July 2, 2020 - Comments Off on Practicing Mindfulness – 3 Ways to Achieve Stimulus-response Distancing

Practicing Mindfulness – 3 Ways to Achieve Stimulus-response Distancing

practising mindfulness

Practicing Mindfulness.

Our mind thinks a million thoughts a day. Let me ask you a question – do you know what your next thought is going to be? I bet you don’t. Yet, this is the single most important thing that shapes the way our life unfolds from moment to moment. These thoughts are triggered by various stimuli in the environment often times unbeknownst to us or from our vast storehouse of memories.

Mind – the thought machine

In essence, our mind is a thought machine. Our heart acts as the machine’s pulse. Our senses feed data into this machine on a continuous basis. Our memories and conditioning (social and genetic) act as procedures that we keep running mostly on an auto-pilot mode.

Our thoughts have far-reaching consequences for us in terms of the way we feel and act. The Cognitive triangle below depicts how our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all interconnected with each other, and influence one another. Therefore, you can change, or at least influence, one by changing another.


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When we are not in control of the next thought that can arise in our minds, how can we be in control of our emotions, actions, habits, careers, relationships, and ultimately our destiny? Is there a way to establish a positive feedback loop in our cognitive triangle? Mindfulness holds the key to answering this question.

What’s mindfulness?

Various studies refer to mindfulness as the moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience - our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and the environment around us - with a sense of acceptance and without any judgment. Spiritual texts would actually say that the trick behind mindfulness is to actually quieten the mind. In a manner of speaking, we must become ‘mindless’ to become mindful.

To me, mindfulness boils down to a simple thing – are we aware of the space, albeit a tiny one, that exists between the stimulus (internal or external) and our response. There lies our freedom of choice – the freedom to chart our own path, create our own destiny. Exactly what Viktor Frankl talks about in his iconic book “Man’s search for meaning”. What’s empowering to note is that we do have the ability to identify, create, and expand the space between the stimulus and the response. It can be deliberately developed over a period of time. In tune with the times, let’s call the creation of this space stimulus-response distancing.

Stimulus-Response Distancing

Now let’s understand what stops us from stimulus-response distancing and what we can do to master mindfulness.

  • Multitasking

Cognitive overload doesn’t help our cause when it comes to mindfulness. When we are constantly bombarded by different stimuli, we fail to stay in tune with our inner world – how cold the room is making me feel, what the fragrance wafting through the air reminds me of, how the noisy environment is making me irritable, etc. Each one of these inputs is capable of triggering thoughts and memories from various hidden nooks of our minds.

Mindfulness Hack #1: Cut down multitasking and engage in deep work when you need to produce breakthrough outcomes

  •  Busy is the new stupid

Perennially staying busy robs us the opportunity to pause and really pay attention to the environment around us and stay in touch with the way we feel on a moment to moment basis.

Mindfulness Hack #2: Be disciplined about switching off from external impulses – devices, work, people, etc. Meditation is a great way to connect deeply with our inner world.

  • Being judgmental 

Often times, we tend to judge our thoughts and apply various labels on them – good, bad, ugly. Staying at the surface level and reacting prematurely doesn’t help us see the connection between the stimuli and the response. Accepting thoughts with a level of equanimity and suspending judgment, on the other hand, helps us see the connection clearly. When we take the position of an observer, we also realize that thoughts are fleeting and they don’t have as much power over the way we feel or act.

Mindfulness Hack #3: Keep a journal to record your thoughts, your reactions and notice if there are recurring patterns.

To sum up, mindfulness may not help us identify what our next thought is going to be but it sure can help us come up with the best response to the thought. Let’s be sure that it takes deliberate practice over a period of time to get out of the auto-pilot mode and enjoy the freedom that exists between stimulus and response. When practiced regularly, mindfulness can positively shape our emotions, actions, habits, and ultimately, our destiny.


rajiv jayaramn transprent logoAbout the Author

Rajiv Jayaraman Founder-CEO, KNOLSKAPE ; Author: Clearing the Digital BLUR, TEDx speaker, Chief People Officer, Talent Transformation.

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  • June 24, 2020 - Comments Off on Developing Emotional Resilience

    Developing Emotional Resilience

    developing emotional resilience

    Developing Emotional Resilience

    We all get 'life lemons' from time to time, don't we? - health issues, relationship troubles, career issues, financial constraints, existential dilemmas, etc. How do we make lemonade or lemon pie or anything else that tickles your fancy with them? In other words, how do we develop resilience to adversities and setbacks?

    Martin Seligman, the famous psychologist, speaks about the 3 Ps that prevent us from mustering courage, healing, moving on, and finding joy.


    We tend to personalize the issues we face. This can take multiple forms - Why me? or I'm a failure or what will others think of me? or I must have had a role to play with this or I deserve this. We get into a negative loop that becomes difficult to get out of.


    We tend to think that the issue at hand will last forever. Sometimes, they do (as in the case of loss of a loved one). But then, life finds its own equilibrium post the event. That's why we hear people say "This too shall pass". Nothing remains constant in life, let go and go with the flow.


    We tend to magnify issues and think that adversity or failure in one area of life is all-encompassing. We forget to remain grateful for what we do have, small pleasures that make our lives rich, and the support/guidance we are getting on a constant basis.

    While there are 3 Ps to overcome, there is one P to totally embrace - Purpose. I find that people who have a strong sense of purpose tend to deal with adversities a lot better than others who don't have a strong "why". As Nietzsche elegantly says, "He who has a why to live can bear almost anyhow."

    Every adversity shows up as a learning opportunity. We have a choice to make - will we learn and grow out of the situation or will our spirits be crushed? So the next time life throws a lemon, overcome the 3Ps and learn to make lemonade 🙂


    KNOLSKAPE creates experiential solutions that transform your organization into a modern workforce. Our core belief is that desired business outcomes are achieved best with an engaged workforce, but traditional methodologies for doing so require a new, more updated approach. Keeping with this philosophy, we develop engaging, immersive and experiential solutions for talent assessment, development, and engagement.


    rajiv jayaramn transprent logoAbout the Author

    Rajiv Jayaraman Founder-CEO, KNOLSKAPE ; Author: Clearing the Digital BLUR, TEDx speaker, Chief People Officer, Talent Transformation.

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  • June 22, 2020 - Comments Off on Custom Learning Trends to Watch Out for in 2020

    Custom Learning Trends to Watch Out for in 2020

    trends to watch out for in custom learning in 2020

    Custom learning has proved to be a very effective learning method. Consequently, the demand for custom learning is consistently growing. People are getting used to personalized solutions which is why they find custom learning more appealing. Not every learner responds well to the same techniques.

    The Gates/RAND Studies have tested 11,000 learners for the effects of personalized- learning approaches. The results have shown that the longer students experienced “personalized-learning practices,” their achievement grows more. Through custom learning, the goals and needs of individual learners are recognized and prioritized. When instructions and training are tailored to address those goals and needs, the result will be more noticeable. For that reason, custom learning and emerging trends are under the watchful eye of anyone interested in improving their learning methodology.

    Martin Seligman, the famous psychologist, speaks about the 3 Ps that prevent us from mustering courage, healing, moving on, and finding joy.

    The Benefits of Implementing Custom Learning Trends in 2020

    Keeping up with trends is relevant in every industry. As trends come and go very fast nowadays, you need to be in the loop of information that is valuable to your niche.

    Implementing custom learning without following the trends can make your services outdated. The learner’s experience will be complete only if you implement the trends in your learning platforms.

    The following trends will mark the year 2020 and you simply can’t overlook them. They will introduce you to some techniques and advancements that will improve the custom learning.

    However, you need to keep in mind that not all trends need to be accepted and implemented blindly. The purpose of educating yourself about the trends in custom learning is to overview the type of advancement you can make in your learning platform.

    Before you introduce innovation in your custom learning service, consider these aspects:

    1. How relevant the trend is for your learners?
    2. How the trend will align with learners’ expectations and goals?
    3. How the trend will align with your plans for custom learning improvements?

    Now, that we’ve got that covered, let’s get straight to the trends that can be a huge step forward for your custom learning platform.

    Top Trends in Custom Learning in 2020

    • Microlearning

    Microlearning puts the emphasis on short-form, drop-in-drop-out learning rather than long-term commitment requirements. The research shows that microlearning makes the transfer of learning 17% more effective.

    The reason why is that learners feel a greater feeling of accomplishment. It is easier to focus on smaller portions of learning material so the learners’ results will be better. When learners get to repeat the content at certain intervals the knowledge is cemented in their long-term memory.

    Additionally, each section puts certain notions in focus and it is easier to pinpoint which parts are harder for learners' to grasp. Microlearning is a trend that has seen a notable difference in learners' results and should definitely be considered for improving custom learning plans.

    • Mobile optimization

    The trend of adapting learning to mobile devices is something that you could've seen coming. This trend is simply a result of users’ demand.

    The average American spends more than 5 hours on their phone. People's addiction to mobile phones has inspired entrepreneurs and innovators to make their services mobile-friendly. Custom learning is no exception.

    Mobile optimization in custom learning refers to the facilitation of on-the-go learning via a specialized app and responsive website design. The goal is to make the materials and learning experience available on mobile devices.

    Amanda Dignan, UX design technologist at Studicus and TrustMyPaper explains: “With mobile-optimized custom learning, people will have a better chance to stick to their learning habits. They will have a chance to access the material whenever they have the time. Whether they are on the bus, taking a break, or sitting on their front porch, the learning materials will be in the reach of their hand.”

    • Collaborative learning

    Engaging learning environment makes learning less tedious and more effective. With that in mind, collaborative learning is one of the trends that deserve our attention.

    Collaborative learning means that there is interaction, discussion, and teamwork with other learners in the course. The engagement will encourage learners to be more present and think logically.

    In collaborative learning, learners have to organize themselves and communicate consistently. This gives them an opportunity to develop their leadership skills, self-management skills, as well as communication skills.

    Studies have shown that collaborative learning can also lead to higher involvement and better retention of knowledge.

    Many organizations have already invested in making their learning platforms more collaborative and social. The LXPs (Learning Experience Platforms) and The NextGen LMSs both leverage collaborative learning.

    • AR/VR utilization

    AR/VR can be seen everywhere. The technology is taking off and we can't ignore its impact on custom learning.

    Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) used to be an idea of the future and the cost was corresponding. With their immersion in different fields, the price is dropping and becoming more realistic.

    In custom learning, mixed reality technology can be used to augment the learning process. It can add an edge to traditional learning forms.

    Adobe Captivate 2019’s VR capability is a great example of this trend. They explained what the tool can bring their users:

    Imagine if you could send your students of art and history on a virtual field trip to The Louvre or simulate high-risk emergency situations to train your first-responder teams. Design immersive learning experiences that can be delivered via popular VR headsets (e.g. Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, etc.) to replicate real-life scenarios.”

    Whether you are for or against VR, you can’t deny that this is an impressive innovation.

    • Personalized learning analytics

    In order to improve the impact of training, analytics can be a crucial addition. Personalized learning analytics allow the learner full access to personal performance data all for more efficient future learning.

    Access to their performance will help the learner to identify their weak and strong spots. Based on the information, they can work on continuous improvement.

    The actionable insight will improve learners’ motivation, engagement, and facilitate the application of learning. James Kushner, an analytics expert at BestEssayEducation explains why personalized analytics is an important trend for 2020, “There is no more denying of how important analytics are for learner’s experience. Through analytics, learners are able to follow their educational journey, pinpoint their common mistakes, and focus on not repeating them.”

    • Learning personalization

    Learning can be personalized in many ways. Missing out on this opportunity is not acceptable anymore. Some of the ways of learning personalization are:

    • Back-end assistance – Learners are provided with back-end information and help on their demand.
    • Curation – Content curation offers relevant content to the individual learner. The content will also be offered at the moment of the learner's need.

    Support for learners via trained tutors and experts – Tutors and experts can clarify any confusing notions. They can also further explain the material that troubles the learner.


    Custom learning is here to stay but that doesn’t mean that there are no changes. The above-mentioned trends are reshaping the custom learning into a highly personalized experience for learners. Their importance lies in the value that they add to custom learning. If you wish to take your custom learning platform to the next level, these are the solutions that you should turn to.


    KNOLSKAPE creates experiential solutions that transform your organization into a modern workforce. Our core belief is that desired business outcomes are achieved best with an engaged workforce, but traditional methodologies for doing so require a new, more updated approach. Keeping with this philosophy, we develop engaging, immersive and experiential solutions for talent assessment, development, and engagement.


    About the Author

    Nicole Garrison is an experienced freelance blogger whose versatile scope of interest includes topics such as digital marketing , web design, and professional growth. Her main goal is to use his passion for writing to always provide high-quality, reliable and well-researched pieces of content. She’s currently working as a writer at Supreme Dissertations.

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  • May 11, 2020 - Comments Off on Best Online Communication Tools For eLearning Teams

    Best Online Communication Tools For eLearning Teams

    best online communication tools for elearning teams

    About the Author

    Nicole Garrison is an experienced freelance blogger whose versatile scope of interest includes topics such as digital marketing , web design, and professional growth. Her main goal is to use his passion for writing to always provide high-quality, reliable and well-researched pieces of content. She’s currently working as a writer at Supreme Dissertations.

    #eLearning is a trend that has been around for years but it's only continuing to grow and improve. More and more companies, institutions, and teams are turning to eLearning as a form of introducing changes or adopting new skills and knowledge. In fact, by 2025 the eLearning industry is predicted to be worth $325 billion.

    Therefore, it’s obvious that this is a growing industry. This is why it’s no wonder there are dozens of online communication tools you can use for eLearning. To help you make the right choice, we’ve put together a list of the best online communication tools for eLearning teams.

    Let’s take a closer look.

    Why Use Online Communication Tools For eLearning Teams?

    eLearning has completely changed the way we receive or transfer knowledge. Unlike traditional learning methods, eLearning has brought some benefits to the table.

    Here are the strongest advantages of using online communication tools for eLearning teams:

    1. Time-saving:

      Students get to learn from the comfort of their office chair, home, or any location they choose. No need to travel.

    2. Interactive classes

      Unlike offline learning, here you have a direct connection to an expert who can resolve your doubts and answer your questions.

    3. Affordable

      eLearning is cost-effective due to the reduces resources you need to use (travel, accommodation, course materials, etc.)

    4. Re-taking lessons

      You can re-take a lesson to ensure the knowledge sinks in, unlike with the traditional form of learning where you only get to sit in a lecture once.

    The benefits of eLearning are numerous. Once you choose the best eLearning tool, you’ll be able to experience the full perks.

    What Are The Best Online Communication Tools For e-Learning Teams?

    Now, let’s take a closer list at the best tool for e-learning available today.

    • Podio

      Podio is an online collaboration tool that can ensure your eLearning team is in sync. It's designed to cultivate transparency and make it easy for each team member to participate equally.Podio offers features such as:

      • assigning projects & assignments
      • sharing project details such as the deadline or project manager
      • attaching files
      • open conversations on the project
      • Podio mobile app


    • You can access Podio using the app, wherever you are and it will stay synced across all your devices. You can share files, break down tasks and assignments and get immediate support from other team members in case you need it.Podio will make the learning and the teaching process easier and will support it from beginning to end.


    • Asana

      Another great platform for eLearning teams to use and collaborate on is Asana. This work management platform ensures the eLearning team stays on the right page and focuses on the same goals.

      Here’s what makes Asana highly recommended:

      • easy to plan and structure assignments, projects, and tasks
      • allows assigning task priority
      • gives a visual timeline representation of the upcoming work
      • helps the team stay in sync

      Asana helps communicate the right message to the right people and assign tasks that are easy to understand.

      The visual representation of the tasks will help team members keep track of their lessons and assignments, as well as help them prioritize each step of the process.

      It prevents the team member from getting confused, slacking, or falling behind the rest of the group.


    • Skype

      Skype is one of the oldest and most widely-recognized communication apps out there. With its advanced options and trustworthiness, it’s perfectly fit for eLearning teams to use and collaborate on.

      Skype allows users to:

      • have live video calls, one to one or group ones
      • share your screen while on call
      • share files
      • chat
      • record the lesson to share or review it later

      When sharing files with the rest of the team, make sure that you’ve double-checked it and proofread everything. In case you need help, check out Grab My Essay, Grammarly, or Wow Grade.

      So, Skype allows you to create and share a conference call, or participate in a live lesson wherever you are. And, you can access Skype from any device that has the app.


    • Trello

      Trello is another favored tool for eLearning and online communication of teams. It’s suitable for those online lessons that are complex and require great organization skills.

      Trello is based on boards, lists, and task cards. These features make sure the lessons are:

      • organized
      • divided into sections
      • open for adjustments and changes

      All team members will be able to access the eLearning projects from a device of choice and keep up with each project assigned.

      Each project is open for adding attachments, leaving comments and there’s a due date clearly stated. Everything the team members need is in one place.

      Planning, organizing, and conducting eLearning is made simple with this collaboration tool.


    • Slack

      Slack is a team collaboration tool with a truly unique and special approach. As they say it, they focus on team-first instead of individual-first approach.

      Slack is based on channels. These channels make sure that every member of a team has all the necessary information they need for participating in the project.

      So, for each segment of an upcoming lesson and each step in the learning process, there will be:

      • a channel created for all members that need to be informed
      • files, messages, and updates shared with everyone
      • open comments and conversation on the channel, on the subject matter

      Team members can be a part of different channels, depending on their needs, interests, and learning journey.


    • Microsoft teams

      Microsoft Teams is another top-notch collaboration platform that can turn the eLearning process into a smoothly running process.

      It comes with major benefits and we’ll break them down for you. Here are some of the best features that Microsoft Teams offers:

      • hosting audio or video calls for up to 10.000 members
      • screen sharing
      • note-taking during the call
      • recording the sessions
      • live chat
      • using integrated third-party apps for an improved experience.


    In addition, there's a subcategory of Microsoft Teams called the Microsoft Teams for education. This platform is designed specifically for online learning and with the teachers and students in mind.

    Teachers get to:

    • create and share files
    • establish direct communication with students using chat, video calls, or meetings
    • share elaborate feedback on assignments and projects
    • create a grading system

    It’s a platform designed to make remote learning easy and practical.


    Final Thoughts

    As you can see, there are some brilliant, easy-to-use, and highly efficient online communication tools that can be used by eLearning teams. Each tool offers something unique and allows you to mold your lessons accordingly. Choose the tools that fit your needs best and start using it to improve your eLearning efforts. You'll be able to see the improvements almost instantly.



    KNOLSKAPE creates experiential solutions that transform your organization into a modern workforce. Our core belief is that desired business outcomes are achieved best with an engaged workforce, but traditional methodologies for doing so require a new, more updated approach. Keeping with this philosophy, we develop engaging, immersive and experiential solutions for talent assessment, development and engagement.

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  • January 27, 2020 - Comments Off on Coaching Series Part 2: The art of peer coaching for greater returns

    Coaching Series Part 2: The art of peer coaching for greater returns

    the art of peer coaching for greater returns


    In part 1 of this series, I shared some of the insights I derived from aspiring coaches regarding their fears and apprehensions with the coaching experience and process. My experience brought to light that even with all the tips, tools and techniques that a coach can aspire to possess, a major barrier to the coaching process and experience is the confidence and reservations of the coaches themselves.

    In this blog, I want to talk about another dimension to coaching. Thus far, we have seen coaching as an important tool that managers can use to improve the performance of their team. However, the onus of coaching need not lie with the team manager alone. What’s more? It SHOULD NOT lie with the managers alone, either. We must remember that coaching (in the professional context) entails helping an individual on a personal level as well as helping them perform as team members.

    Who better to understand the team’s dynamics than members of the team who work together on a regular basis? The opportunity to coach peers is one that comes along every day, however, most of us rarely take up this responsibility. Perhaps it is the lack of authority or recognition, or the inability to identify and accept such an opportunity that keeps us from coaching others. However, coaching is synonymous with helping, a crucial due diligence to be performed by every member of the team.

    If one were to look at the traits it takes to be a good coach, it is evident that these traits are not alluded simply to managers and leaders. They are basic human characteristics that do not understand an individual’s professional standing. Therefore, it begs the question – if you possess these traits, why are you not using them? Consequently, if you lack in certain traits, why are you not doing anything to develop them?

    Let’s take a step back. A preliminary concept already exists – peer coaching. The concept of ‘peer coaching’ has been popular for decades, and with good reason. Research shows that peer coaching can help drive performance, boost employee engagement and develop future leaders. A study conducted by Quantum Workplace found that employees who experience peer coaching are eight percent more engaged than employees who don’t.

    However, my problem with this concept is that is it strictly limited to developing knowledge and technical capabilities, i.e., there seems to be a stigma or fear in helping peers develop beyond what is necessary for a job for fear that it may jeopardize one’s own chances of growth. After all, the corporate world is often equated to a jungle, the motto of which remains ‘survival of the fittest’.

    It isn’t that simple, though. As John Donne once said, ‘No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…’ In saying this, Donne wanted to convey a simple message – we need to work together to make things happen, and this isn’t always as simple as identifying the weakest member of the team to help them get stronger.

    Often, the challenge need not be with capability at all. It could have to do with confidence and motivation, which is another reason that peer coaching is likely to be more effective than having someone else, a manager included, be our coach. It is human nature to feel more comfortable with someone who we can relate to. Often, this is the person we consider our equal.

    Being a team player also means taking an interest and actively helping team members bring out the best in themselves. If that means that we must invest some time and effort into coaching our peers, then so be it. And this is rarely without reward. Peer coaching shows leadership, accountability, influencing abilities and ownership. Even if leadership doesn’t recognize this now, peer coaching helps in building character and capabilities. Sooner or later, it is going to give us big returns.

    So, what does it take to be a peer coach?

    Offer to help.

    As peer who work together on a regular basis, we are likely to have better insight into the personal attributes, areas of struggle, and conditions that our team members are dealing with. We often see team members struggling with something – could be a mental block, or challenges with prioritization, difficult clients, or even personal barriers that prevent them from performing efficiently on the job.

    Often, we recognize these challenges because we have been in similar situations ourselves, and our ability to be empathetic is high. Therefore, we are better poised to relate to our team members and offer them an environment that supports positivity. All it requires is a simple, genuine gesture of offering to help.

    Pitfall - In an overzealous move to help and support, we can come across as forceful. Help can go a long way, but only so long as the other person is willing to accept it. Recognizing the problem as a third person and understanding that there is a problem as the person at the centre of it are two different things. Just because I have realized that you have a problem doesn’t mean that you have realized it or are willing to accept it yourself. Nobody appreciates a holier-than-thou or a know-it-all attitude. So, if someone doesn’t want your help, take a step back, but make sure you keep a close eye on them. They will either solve their problem or ask for help at some point in the future, where you can appropriately step in.

    Enrich Trust.

    Trust is the most important part of any coaching relationship. To be able to help an individual, they must trust you. Therefore, before attempting to coach someone, you must identify the degree of closeness and comfort that the person feels towards you, and how much they trust you. This is important as trust is the foundation of every strong relationship.

    This may not be an easy task, but it isn’t impossible either. Author David Maister, in his book, ‘The Trusted Advisor’ illustrated an equation that could potentially help us assess our trustworthiness, as perceived by another person, to help build strong relationships.


    • Credibility is established in the words we speak. Are we being honest and transparent? Do we have something to say that the other person can learn from and/or relate to?
    • Reliability is established in our actions. Are we able to walk the talk? Are we coming across as genuine and consistent?
    • Intimacy is established in the level of safety and security that a potential coachee feels when engaging with us. Are we able to make the other person feel comfortable with us? Does the other person feel like they can open up to us?

    To be considered highly trustworthy, it is important that our levels of credibility, reliability and intimacy with the other person are high.

    Finally, self-orientation refers to where our focus lies. Are we more focused on our own wants, desires and expectations? Do we let ourselves get distracted when building meaningful relationships with others? Are we able to display genuine interest in the team member we are coaching? To be considered highly trustworthy, it is important that our self-orientation is low.

    Pitfall – Don’t assume that just because you work together and may talk to each other while at work that the person you are attempting to help trusts you with their problems. While you may share office gossip with each other, eat lunch together and know of each other’s weekend plans, that doesn’t mean that your potential coachee will trust you with their problems. Remember, it is engrained in many of us to not display our weaknesses or struggles at work for fear that it may impact our career growth.

    It is also important to remember that the coaching conversation is not about the coach, rather the person being coached.

     Become accountable.

    When deciding to coach anybody, we go on their journey with them. This is especially true when coaching peers, as their mental state and performance can directly impact our goals at work. Any win for our coachee is a win for us and the larger team, business unit and organization we both belong to. Therefore, ensuring that we take accountability for any struggles and fallouts that our team members endue is crucial.

    Pitfall – When we take accountability for someone, it is human tendency to want control. In a coaching relationship, however, we do not get control as coaches. Our role is to give guidance and act as safety nets or cheerleaders, ready on the sidelines for every failure as well as success. It is important to constantly keep ourselves in check, because our instinct to take over and control the situation can take over. Don’t let it. Practice self-awareness and, more importantly, self-control.

    Ask. Don’t answer.

    The logical/rational parts of our brain always know the solution to any challenge we may face. Unfortunately, in the midst of unpleasant, tough and emotional experiences, emotions take over. For as long as we allow emotions to control us, we are not going to be able to solve any problem. This is true for all human beings. As coaches, it is our responsibility to talk down the heightened emotions our team members are facing.

    The best way to do this is to facilitate their realization of the emotions they are feeling, allowing them to clear their head off the emotional fog that has overtaken them. Once they are thinking more clearly, it is far easier to talk them through the situation logically and help them arrive at a solution. Remember – the key word here is HELP. Our team members need to put in the effort to overcome the challenges they face.

    This can be a difficult task for both the coach as well as team members. But look at it this way – when are you more likely to accept or believe something? Is it when someone tells you about it or when you come to the realization yourself?

    Pitfall – It is human nature to want to provide answers. We establish a powerful coaching relationship with someone partially because we come across as credible. Our team members may see us as a source of all the answers, and often, they may also want us to just give them all the answers or solve their problems entirely. This is not fruitful. There is no learning, as a result, no evolution. Coaches are not problem solvers. We are support systems that provide guidance and support. So, as painful as it may be to bite our tongues and watch someone close suffer, giving them the answers to their problems is far more detrimental.  

    Coaching, by no means is easy, but it is necessary, as illustrated in Part 1 of this series. Off all the people that can potentially coach someone, peers tend to have the most success. As peers, we are more aware of our team members’ personalities, needs, desires, motivations and the challenges they face. Therefore, establishing a trust-based relationship which facilitates the coaching experience is far easier as well. Keeping in mind the aforementioned elements guarantees a successful coaching relationship, a more cohesive team, higher morale, and, ultimately, greater performance. The most important thing to remember through it all is to keep judgement out of it. Just because we are coaching someone doesn’t make us better than them. It simply puts us in a position to help someone, who might return the favor in the future. After all, belief in someone can go a long way, with many unexpected rewards.

    In part 3 of this series, we will look at the impact that belief can have in the coaching process, coaching experience, and most importantly coachee confidence and performance.


    coaching sim

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  • January 22, 2020 - Comments Off on Six L&D Strategies To Adopt and Become a Future-Proof L&D Team

    Six L&D Strategies To Adopt and Become a Future-Proof L&D Team

    L&D Blog-2

    Donald Fomby -author

    In the 21st century, we have seen a great shift in the challenges modern organizations face. Instead of the previous issue of talent acquisition and management, one of the burning questions today is employee retention.

    With high-quality Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) and perks, the goal of modern organizations is to make employees engaged, independent, empowered and valued.

    This is especially prominent with millennials being a large part of the global workforce. It's a generation that's notorious for career-hopping and swift job changes. By 2020, half of the American workforce will be comprised of millennials. In many countries, like India and Indonesia, the millennial cohort has already surpassed the other generational groups within the workforce.

    Companies are quickly adapting to this change and the insight that millennial employees prioritize learning as one of the key EVPs they look for in a company. According to Research and Markets, online training is currently provided by 77% of US companies.

    To stay ahead of the curve and come up with the best innovative ideas for L&D in your company, here are some of the best examples of key characteristics of modern L&D departments:

    1. Support Peer-to-Peer Learning

    A great way to set up effective learning and development strategies in the office is to promote peer-to-peer learning. Well, this method is not new. But it still works perfectly for both big and small organizations. Today, this method is practiced all over Silicon Valley with some of the top companies like Google and Amazon.

    At Google, the peer-to-peer learning and training program is called G2G (Googler-to-Googler). This training structure currently hosts 80% of all tracked training sessions at this company. This means that peer-to-peer learning is Google’s number one resource for learning and development.

    Google’s approach is great for promoting a company culture that places a high value on learning. This is done by making the employees aware that they have a right and need to learn. G2G is also a great program because it allows Googlers to give back to their colleagues and share their knowledge with people who they work with.

    Facebook also has a peer-to-peer learning program called FLiP (Facebook Leadership in Practice), in which leaders and managers receive coaching and feedback from their peers. It consists of team-building exercises, peer-to-peer feedback sharing sessions and executive coaching.

    2. Personalize the Learning Experience for Individual Employees

    Modern HR practices are all about approaching the employee as an individual and personalizing the company’s approach according to employee needs, traits and preferences. This is also valuable in the L&D program.

    One company that stands out with personalized learning and training sessions is Facebook. According to the company, the organization culture “fosters a culture of continuous learning”.

    The L&D program at Facebook is designed to approach each employee personally and provide an individual learning course. Every new engineer who joins the company goes through an intensive six-week program called Bootcamp.  The program helps to immerse the new engineer into the Facebook codebase and gives the new employee greater flexibility in choosing a project.

    A small number of rotating senior engineers work as mentors and coach new engineers. The mentors are responsible for reviewing bootcampers’ codes and answering each and every question that new engineers might feel ashamed to ask. Senior engineers from across the engineering teams also help new employees to learn. They give a bunch of tech talks on a broad range of the technologies that Facebook uses. And most importantly, the vast majority of bootcamp graduates agree that diving into the code with personalized support is the best way to learn.

    A highly personal approach is also reflected in Facebook’s Engage Coaching Program. This is a program designed for new managers, who are connected to an executive coach as soon as they go through onboarding. With an emphasis on management skills and organizational strategies, the executive coach helps new managers to shine at their new roles. This program involves using case studies, coaching circle exercises with executive team members, and team-building activities.

    However, it’s worth mentioning that personalization is not about coaching and mentoring only.  It’s also about the usage of simulations and other immersive games. Simulation-based learning helps to create a more active, productive environment in which it’s easier for employees to gain first-hand knowledge of tools, programs, and devices. Simulation allows learners to test actual sample scenarios and situations and to learn from their personal mistakes.

    3. Learning through Fun Competition

    No matter how old employees are and what position they hold, they like to compete. It's just human nature. People tend to participate in competition not to get a specific reward but to satisfy the self-esteem need – to show that they are better and smarter than others.

    And that explains why gamification works effectively in the workplace. By using game-based elements like leaderboards, points, and badges, companies invoke the feeling of competition and engage employees in learning and development, without necessarily enticing learners with real-world, tangible motivations. In other words, Gamification promotes learning for the sake of learning, but in a fun and engaging manner (Tangible rewards are just a bonus!).

    Box, a cloud content management company, held a little L&D competition when they first started cooperating with Udemy. The name of the promotion was “25 x 25 x 25“, meaning that the first 25 persons to watch 25 minutes of Udemy courses would win $25 gift cards.

    Another example of a fun competition using Udemy courses is from the company Canadian Pacific. This railway company regularly uses Udemy courses to expand the skill set of their IT teams. To increase their motivation and add a bit of fun into the mix, the company organized a contest in teams where pairs competed in answering questions from learning courses on Udemy, with prizes for the winning team.

    You can introduce this to your employees as well because some people thrive in a competitive environment. Every time you turn something into a game, it's much more pleasurable!

    4. Introduce Interactive Learning

    New technologies give us unlimited possibilities for devising interesting and effective learning and development courses. That’s why many companies opt for interactive learning platforms to add a dimension of educational entertainment (or shortly “edutainment”) to their training efforts.

    The key benefit of the edutainment (“learning while you have fun”) concept is that having fun releases dopamine in the brain, which makes a person more receptive to the experience. Making education fun allows learners to immerse themselves in the learning process and have a more retentive, positive impact from their learning.

    A great example of edutainment is Slack’s Certification training, developed by the company’s Director of Learning, Kristen Swanson. The training program is inspired by Choose Your Own Adventure books, where users choose which actions to take and witness the consequences of their choices.

    “The Slack certification app gives people the opportunity to make bad choices and see what happens or to make good choices and see what happens”, Swanson said.

    The training starts with the user selecting a character, along with the description of his job duties and role. Upon starting, the user starts interacting with the chatbot to perform a particular task.

    5. Switch to Micro-learning

    Huge courses and seminars can be daunting for young employees for a few reasons. Firstly, such digital-age issues as shortening attention spans and distractions from smart devices negatively affect the way modern employees learn and work. Secondly, the recency effect (retaining the most recent piece of information the learner receives) and the primacy effect (retaining the first piece of information the learner receives) also influence the learning process.

    That’s why, according to psychologists and HR experts, you should offer L&D materials in tiny bits, and not in huge chunks of material. According to research, learning is most effective in small, highly focused sessions lasting from 15 to 30 minutes.

    There are many apps and online tools that have answered this demand for micro-learning, such as Grovo, TAG or Blinkist. We definitely shouldn’t underestimate the power of quick learning sessions, because they can easily build up to be even more effective than a huge quantity of information overloaded at once.

    6. Set up Learning Time Blocks Wisely

    The concept of  “setting up learning time blocks” was rather popular a few years ago. But today, Josh Bersin and other experts in the field say that this concept doesn’t work. They state that professionals are not able to set aside time specifically for learning and that they always prioritize their work over the learning process. Josh Bersin is advocating the idea of “Learning in the Flow of Work” as a primary learning solution for modern companies.

    But the truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It always depends on the company and the methodology it uses to train its employees. For example, US visual media organization Getty Images regularly holds “WeLearn Wednesday”. Each Wednesday, the company’s L&D representative shares a course recommendation through Slack, and that brings results.

    Another tactic that Getty Images used to motivate their employees to take a course was to post a photo of the company’s Chief HR Manager learning at his desk. The photo resulted in a significant increase in the number of employee course enrollments.

    If the “learning days” training structure seems to be inappropriate for your company, you should consider using the “learning months” structure. If the learning process in your company is predominantly experiential and immersive, you will see a significant increase in the consumption of self-directed learning.


    Using examples of best practices from top tier companies can teach you how to up your L&D game to the next level.

    By introducing new concepts and structures into the way your HR team handles learning and development, you can increase employee satisfaction and boost your employer branding. Make sure you keep up with all the recent developments in the industry because things are changing fast and there are new platforms and learning methodologies cropping up every day.

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  • January 20, 2020 - Comments Off on Micro-learning Part 2: Why Learning in the flow of work is disrupting the L&D space

    Micro-learning Part 2: Why Learning in the flow of work is disrupting the L&D space

    why learning in the flow is disrupting the L&D space


    In Part 1 of this series, we talked about Micro learning. In Part 2, we talk about another concept that has built over micro learning, called Learning in the Flow of Work. Before we get into understanding what exactly this concept means, we need to first establish why there is so much buzz around it.

    We are all aware of the current landscape under which organizations and businesses are operating. It is dynamic and it is constantly being disrupted thanks to digital technologies and their capabilities. While organizations are working towards redefining their business models, processes and systems, their L&D teams are working towards:

    • identifying new-age skills required by their workforce to support the new business scenario, and
    • developing learning strategies that will support the development of these skills and propel the organization towards exponential growth.

    Reimagining the people and learning strategy has become a business prerogative as 80% of CEOs’ believe that the need for new skills is the biggest challenge they face, according to research by PwC.

    With the rate at which change is taking place today, the employability gap is increasing significantly, as not enough professionals currently possess the capabilities to effectively operate in the digital age, seasoned leaders included. In essence, the global workforce must go through a cycle of mass unlearning and relearning and do so quickly. The challenge is, however, that organizations and their employees alike do not have the luxury of time for capability development. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report supports this fact. Unfortunately, not partaking in the process is also not an option.

    The reality also is that while employees are geared to develop themselves, L&D teams aren’t as quick to jump on the bandwagon. Therefore, employees often take ownership of driving their own learning, and the source they usually go to is Google. We are so used to Google providing us any information we seek at the snap of a finger that we use Google incessantly, even when we know the answer to something. But this is also when we know what we are looking for.

    Now imagine that you need to learn something new. Google might have all the information you need, but you don’t know where to start your learning journey. Any attempt to start learning is often left unstructured and all over the place. It ends up being a trial and error process, and this can be time consuming and ineffective.

    This is where Learning in the Flow of Work (LFW) can prove to be fruitful. So, let’s understand the concept better. Learning in the Flow of Work, in the simplest sense, is making learning a part of everyday work. It works well as a learning method because it recognizes that for learning to effectively take place in the current business landscape, it must fit into the schedule of the employees, because, as we have already established, capability development is a necessity and time is of the essence.

    Now, a methodology such as microlearning has an element of technology involved. So, it is expected that a lot of concerns might be raised on its actual impact:

    • You could have employees who aren’t very tech-savvy, so how do you engage them?
    • Your mobile addicted employees are easily distracted by social media and notifications from other apps, so how do you get them to stay on the learning path?
    • Your employees are racing against time with their project deadlines and deliverables, so how do you empower them to make time to learn?
    • You may already have several different platforms that you use for communication, performance management and even learning, perhaps, so how are you going to get your employees to be a part of and engage on yet another platform?

    What makes Learning in the Flow of Work so convenient and powerful is that it:

    • is accessible on-demand,
    • allows learners to drive their own learning based on convenience,
    • is carefully curated to fit the needs of the learner, taking away the need for experimentation, and
    • Can easily be integrated with all sorts of existing digital platforms.

    In other words, Learning in the Flow of Work is an advanced and more effective take on microlearning.

    But how do you go about actually implementing this?

    Incorporating Learning in the Flow of Work in an organization effectively takes on the following considerations

    • Learning is embedded into existing platforms:
      1. Imagine you are in sales or marketing. Using a sales/marketing CRM is a huge part of the process, and you spend a significant amount of time on the platform. Marketing, Sales and Service Software provider HubSpot capitalizes on this by incorporating HubSpot Academy right on the platform to help users of the platform also develop their technical and functional capabilities
      2. Microsoft products are perhaps the most used professional tools today, with Microsoft’s comprehensive portfolio of Office 365. A notable mention from Microsoft’s portfolio is Microsoft Teams, a collaboration tool that provides a shared workspace for teams to chat, meet, share files and work with business apps. The software also allows for multiple other integrations with service partners to provide users a complete environment to learn, teach, work and be productive.
    • The content mix comprises 4 E’s that allows for multi-modal delivery of learning:
      1. Education – through in-classroom and virtual workshops, videos, etc.
      2. Experience – through developmental plans, checklist, job rotations, on-the-job assignments, etc.
      3. Exposure – through peer feedback, mentoring, coaching, etc.
      4. Environment – through tools, systems and infrastructure such as articles, books, games, e-learning courses, mobile applications, etc.
    • There is a shift in the way content is created, curated and deployed for maximum engagement:
    1. Learner capabilities, learning styles and learning needs can be understood to deploy well-curated, personalized learning.
    2. Content is chunked into sizeable bites the delivery of which is appropriately spaced to allow maximum absorption, retention and recall.
    3. Platform capabilities allow for tracking engagement and performance as well as automated follow-ups to propel learning

    This concept was introduced by Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte, and now the Josh Bersin Academy, the research and professional development academy for HR and business leaders. It has transformed the Learning and Development space and has CEOs and HR experts investing time into deciding the best way to implement this new learning methodology.

    Taking a cue from this new learning methodologies,  several organizations have found different means of incorporating learning into their employee’s day to day activities:

    1. Procter & Gamble: They believe in the ideology of ‘The fastest learner wins’, as to keep up with today’s trends and changing market conditions, one must be a fast learner. P&G has incorporated learning in the flow of work in it’s learning/training program as well - by providing easy access to information, performance support aids, and carefully curated training - which can be directly applied to work.
    2. Sainsbury’s: Usually, corporates implement those learning training programs that they think fit, or that they think is possible to implement effectively - without taking into consideration what is practicable or that can be applied in their employees’ day to day lives. At Sainsbury’s, they take time to realize the practical difficulties that the employees face and come up with learning platforms/solutions based on the same.
    3. Banco Santander: The organization’s goal is to create corporate learning experiences that match high quality customer grade experiences. To do so, the organization works towards creating learning in the flow of the work ecosystem, which allows the workforce’s capabilities to be developed at scale.

    Has the concept of Learning in the Flow of Work got you thinking about your own learning practices? Think it’s time for an upgrade?

    Maybe KNOLSKAPE can help.

    You may know this – KNOLSKAPE has, since our inception, worked towards transforming the landscape of learning and helping organizations stay ahead of the curve in developing employee capabilities.

    What you may not know is that in our current endeavor towards this goal, we have launched AktivLearn Passport. Leveraging the world’s largest library of online business simulations, rich talent intelligence and a cutting-edge experience platform, Passport helps leaders and organizations build current and future capabilities to take their businesses towards 10x growth.

    A three-step model will have you deploying the Learning in the Flow of Work methodology in no time. Using a wide variety of courses on leadership development and future skills, through a multi-modal delivery channel, empower your leaders to:

    • Lead the NOW and the NEXT seamlessly
    • Make quantum leaps in capability development
    • Become continuous learners

    Make this possible for your learners and talk to us today.

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  • January 14, 2020 - Comments Off on Micro-learning Part-1: Why all the fuss around Micro-learning makes perfect sense

    Micro-learning Part-1: Why all the fuss around Micro-learning makes perfect sense



    Skill development and keeping one’s self abreast with the latest developments in the market has become the need of the hour. Constantly learning and the need of the learner to absorb information in the simplest, most time-conserving way possible has become imperative. Organizations have recognized the varied needs of the learner today. This is where microlearning comes into play.

    To keep this simple, micro-learning is a concept wherein complex or time-consuming concepts are broken down into units. This makes it easy to consume by the learners as the focus is on short, specific topics, which in turn makes retention easy. The reason for the development of the microlearning concept is due to the increased inefficiency of the traditional learning methods, such as classroom lectures, memorization and a one-size-fits-all learning method.

    Let’s dive into the various other reasons that traditional learning methods are no longer effective:

    • Lack of productivity: While it is still a common practice among corporates across the globe to send their teams to day-long learning sessions, it has been proved time and again that the amount of information that is actually retained by the employees, or their takeaways from the sessions have been found to be far more negligible in comparison to the time wasted in not being productive at work. In fact, a Brandon Hall report on eLearning within corporations found that e learning boosts retention rates by 25 to 30% in comparison to 8 to 10% , with traditional learning.
    • No established correlation between productivity and traditional methods of learning: While lectures and seminars have existed in the learning and development space and have been the most common method of teaching or training, a direct connect between the two has not been established. It has thus become imperative to find methods of learning and emulating the habit of learning through real time methods and experiences, which have been found to be far more effective and engaging. Recently, there have also been cases where a direct correlation between productivity and micro-learning.
    • Environmental impact:  Studies have found that online mediums or other real time sources of learning such as SAP Enable Now, Whatfix and Workday Guided Tours equate to an average of 90% less energy and 85% fewer CO2 emissions per learner than traditional learning methods.

    It has thus become imperative for corporates to follow learning methods which have been proved effective over time, while it does not deter the employees from their work, so that productivity is not lost. Microlearning can prove to be an effective substitute to much of the learning that is traditionally done in the classroom, which is why major corporations are investing heavily in it:

    1. There is a better retention of concepts that are being taught.
    2. Employees are able to transfer the concepts being learnt, and directly use the same to address challenges in the workplace.
    3. Corporates save on a lot of time and resources by diverting more of the same to strategic functions, thereby increasing productivity.
    4. Microlearning can be deployed at scale without compromising on the learning experience across learners.

    Implementing Micro-learning in your organization:

    The operations in an organization are multifold, so to draw your attention to how micro learning can be implemented to critical areas of operation in your organization, let us break it up into different aspects:

    1. Onboarding: Onboarding is a very critical activity- both from an employer and employee’s perspective. It has a bearing on the longevity of the employee’s career with the organization, performance etc.


    2. Operations: It has become the need of the hour to find solutions that cut investment of time and increase efficiency, and corporates have realized that incorporating learning as part of the organizational system is the only way to sustain, let alone grow. Micro learning has found an effective solution for the same.

    23Customer delight: Businesses are increasingly looking to find ways and means to address customer requirements and are in constant pursuit of finding the perfect mechanism which can be implemented in their companies.

    4. Growth and development: Lastly, every organization looks to integrate the growth of the organization along with the development of their talent pool. Micro learning solutions for the same have been found to be very effective.


    Learning is an evolving process, and it has taken many forms over the years. While micro learning has broken down learning into small units, another concept that has made learning even more effective is Learning in the Flow of Work, popularized by Josh Bersin - which is a concept that recognizes that for learning to really happen in a corporate space, it must fit around and align itself to the work schedules of employees.

    In the next part of this series, we will be exploring this idea, how it has helped organizations transform their learning techniques, and the advantages of this concept with real-time examples.

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  • January 10, 2020 - Comments Off on Coaching is important, but it isn’t easy. Here’s everything you need to know for becoming an effective coach

    Coaching is important, but it isn’t easy. Here’s everything you need to know for becoming an effective coach

    Coaching audience


    Happy new year, everyone!

    The start of a new year spells new beginnings – we make resolutions and take vows on how we expect to perform in the new year. It is a time of hope, high spirit and an opportunity to reflect on what has transpired in the previous year. Many organizations have now entered the final quarter of their financial year, many are just starting a new financial year and many others are somewhere in between. Nevertheless, now is a good time for teams and leaders to engage in coaching conversations, performance reviews and discussions on the way forward.

    Coaching, today, has become a popular investment in organizations. Senior leadership places it high on their agenda, to facilitate 10x growth for the organization. And why not! After all, there is substantial research to support the benefit of effective coaching conversations to organizations:

    • According to Bersin by Deloitte, organizations where senior leaders coach effectively and frequently record a 21% improvement in business results,
    • A Gallup study on coaching says that coaching average performers can improve overall productivity by 19%, and
    • The International Coach Federation found that 86% of organizations that invested in coaching report having recovered their investment in coaching

    There is no debate that coaching is beneficial and necessary. Which is why a large chunk of organizations, both big and small are investing time, money and effort into:

    1. developing leaders at all levels through coaching, and
    2. coaching leaders to become coaches themselves.

    While organizations are finding ways and means to quantify and formalize the coaching process and impact measures, there is a massive ground reality that often doesn’t get considered or highlighted. If not for the opportunity to facilitate the development of managers as coaches, this reality would have much likely evaded me for longer as well.

    What exactly am I talking about?

    In October 2019, I spent several weeks with first time and middle-level managers of a large telecommunications company. The agenda of this engagement was to help these individuals with a manager tag not just lead their teams, but also coach them to realize their potential and deliver greater performance. This program was aptly titled ‘Manager as a Coach’. Their organization felt that the best people to coach employees are their managers, the people who:

    • lead and work with these employees on a regular basis,
    • observe and understand the team members, and
    • extract the most value out of the employees

    The learning program aimed to help managers understand the coaching process, how to effectively take part in it, and help them separate their roles as managers from that of coaches.

    During the program, we encountered many of the concerns and assumptions that we had anticipated and prepared for:

    • Managers believe that they already engage in coaching conversations with their team members and do so effectively,
    • Managers believe that they are thoroughly aware of their team members strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and fears,
    • Managers think that coaching their team members means solving their team members’ problems,
    • Managers believe that only the low or none performing team members need to be coached, i.e., coaching is primarily for correcting behavior

    The program that we facilitated for these managers effectively addressed and corrected these assumptions, but that is not why I write this post today.

    During this program, I was able to engage with the participants and understand their individual challenges and fears. As L&D professionals, instructional designers, HR teams or even managers, this kind of information is rarely brought to our attention.

    What’s this elusive information, you may ask?

    While coaching is placed high on the leadership agenda, the consensus among the participants in the workshop was that the coaching mindset and behavior are not cascaded down.

    Often, individuals being groomed to become impactful coaches for their team members do not have managers who coach them for greater performance, sparking off other challenges and fears:

    • How do you motivate your team when you don’t receive positive reinforcement from your manager, or your own morale is down?
    • How do you develop your teams’ skills when your leaders are mostly concerned with KRAs, targets and getting the job done no matter what?
    • How do you expend energy on developing and improving team performance when the leaders’ answer is to replace a team member in favor of someone “better” or “more competent”?

    Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this. What is true of high performance is that it a harmonious union of high skill and high morale. Every individual who has the necessary skillsets to accomplish something and the motivation to do it will do well. What is common for coaches and leaders is that both must work towards improving and maintaining employee skill and morale to ensure high performance. It is merely their approach that differs.

    The other truth that coaches and leaders share is that no one is a born leader or a born coach. These are capabilities that we much work towards exhibiting correctly and improving. While there are certain coaching traits we all possess in varying degrees, they aren’t always exhibited, either because:

    1. We don’t want to – this is called preference,
    2. We don’t even know we can – this is called a blind spot, or
    3. We don’t know how to – this is called a learning curve

    Having a great manager who is also a great coach helps us become better coaches ourselves. For those of us who feel that our managers aren’t even good coaches, we can still take away from them everything we should not be doing to become great coaches.

    The challenge that people leaders face is that while they manage the expectations of the people reporting to them, they must also manage the expectations of the people they report to. While we manage emotions, expectations, motivations, skills, and careers, which are in our control, there also exist an unforeseeable number of external variables that we have absolutely no control over. These variables make it exponentially more difficult for managers to do their jobs well. Add to that the fact that you may not feel very motivated yourself at the moment, but that personal feeling cannot be taken out on others.

    Being a manager who is also a coach is not easy. It can rank among the most difficult jobs that a person will ever do, considering that there are so many variables involved, most that are outside our control. A manager who plays the role of a coach has limited control. Why is this important to highlight? Because, in such a case, it is important that we take complete reins over that which we do control – our own responses.

    Imagine this – You have set up a coaching conversation with a team member for today evening. Earlier in the day, you were part of a presentation that went horribly wrong. From there, everything went downhill, leaving you agitated.


    This is only one of several scenarios that we face as managers daily. You recognize these scenarios by how they make you feel – tired, agitated, frustrated and/or demotivated. As coaches, however, how we manage our response to these scenarios can make or break our credibility as coaches and the trust that our team members have in us as their coach. Thinking about the possible responses to this situation, one would:

    1. Cancel the coaching conversation or push it to another time,
    2. Show up to the coaching conversation and, consciously or unconsciously, take out their agitation on the team member being coached, or
    3. The ideal situation – put aside one’s own personal feelings in favor of the coaching conversation.

    Now, what is likely to be the outcome of each response?

    1. Cancel or reschedule:

    A coaching conversation has been scheduled to meet a specific goal or address a specific agenda, most often a performance issue. This is a time-sensitive activity and must be addressed at the earliest to ensure that performance is not compromised with.

    At the same time, a coaching conversation often deals with fears and anxieties from the team member being coached, either because of a lack of clarity around why they need to have a coaching conversation or because they have some deep-rooted fears that they want to address so that they may perform better.

    Canceling or rescheduling such a crucial activity is unfair to the team member as well as the organization, both of whom are looking for a resolution to the problem at hand.

      2. Displace emotions:

     A coaching conversation can be a very delicate situation to manage, as emotion can run amok. As coaches, we need to be patient and remove our own emotions and opinions from the process. In other words, the team member being coached must be at the centre of the coaching conversation.

     Of course, coaches are people, with emotions. It isn’t fair on coaches to have their emotions disregarded. Having said that, there is a time and place for each person to express and let out emotions. A coaching conversation is neither the time nor the place for a coach to do so. Any feelings and opinions a coach has that are detrimental to the coaching conversation must be left at the metaphoric door. The team members being coached don’t deserve their coach’s displaced negative emotions.

     3. Actively engage:

    This is the ideal state for an effective coaching conversation, one where a coach can keep his/her feelings and thoughts aside, keep an open mind, listen patiently and actively, and respond appropriately to the situation at hand.

    Many times, this is easy to do. When you’re having a good day or your energy is up, it is easier to spread warmth and joy. The loophole here is if a coach is able to do this all the time. Irrespective of your state of mind, body, and being, can you ensure that you give the team members you coach the same experience every time?

    A coach’s relationship with the people s/he coaches is sacred. We trust our coaches and expect certain things from them. This is what brings us comfort and confidence to be open and honest in the coaching conversation, enabling it’s effectiveness.

    The element of surprise has little space in coaching experience. Surprise, while exciting, can also be extremely nerve-wracking. The comfort an individual gets in routine is important to alleviate the anxiety around surprise and focus on the more pressing issues.

    Consistently behaving in a positive manner, one that benefits the person you are coaching, and the coaching experience is the ideal situation to be in, and one to aspire for.

    At the end of the day, it is important to remember that coaching is about relationships, rapport and trust. Team members being coached deserve consistency and continuity from their coach – YOU. Therefore, as coaches, we cannot allow our own feelings, thoughts and opinions to interfere or cloud our interaction and the goal in front of us – coaching our team members towards performance.

    ‘So, what do we do?’ you must be wondering, and I don’t blame you! There are so many complexities and so much ambiguity in the process. So, let’s quickly recap:

    • Coaching is crucial and high on the leadership agenda
    • Coaches aren’t born, and there are multiple traits that make for a great coach
    • A manager who is also a coach must balance the expectations of the team as well as his/her own manager/s
    • Team members who need/want to be coached come first, not the whims and priorities of the coach
    • Coaches need to manage their own anxieties and motivation issues while managing their team members’ performance and obstacles

    Most importantly, coaches must be consistent.

    Maintaining Consistency

    We’ve already established that like, leaders, coaches aren’t born. There is also no single kind of coach that is the best. Different people need a different kinds of coaches. Therefore, coaching behavior also requires us to flex our styles to suit the needs of the person we coach.

    The International Coach Federation (ICF) recognizes 11 core competencies of great coaches:

    Coaching blog -1


    There are certain traits that support these behaviors/competencies. Harrison Assessments’ SmartQuestionnaire, which dives deep into behavioral preferences of people and provides insights into strengths and stress responses, measures 175 traits. Their behavioral competency analysis for coaching outlines seven essential, fifteen desirable and six avoidable traits for coaches to exhibit.

    How is any of this information relevant or helpful?

    No two coaches are alike, and coaches need to maintain consistency in their coaching behavior. Understanding the traits that make for a good coach – one’s strength, weakness and preference of behavior – helps us create our coaching personality. In other words, what do you think you need to do to be a good coach?

    Identifying the traits you think will make you a great coach is the first step to actually becoming a good coach. Let’s break down this process:

    coaching blog -2

    Applying this model looks something like this:

    Andrea’s coaching competencies and trait preference assessments gave her the following results:

    Steps One and Two of the process are now complete. To establish and sustain coaching persona, Andrea must now decide whether these are the traits and capabilities she wants to display during a coaching conversation with a team member. Let’s assume that she has decided that her assessment results are what she wants to define her as a coach.

    Now let’s move on the step three – Activities Checklist.

    Below is a sample of what your coaching checklist could look like. Bear in mind that this is a self-reflection of your performance in the coaching conversation, not an evaluation of your ability as a coach.


    While the coaching conversation is about the team member being coached, the coach places a very important role in the process. Therefore, it is imperative for the coach to create such a checklist to gauge their own performance in the coaching conversation. This is an important activity, because, remember, you are coaching people who report to you.

    Whether you like it or not, no matter how good a relationship you think you have with your team members, there is always an invisible line between friend and manager. For fear of how their words may reflect on their promotions and career growth, your team members aren’t always going to be entirely honest with you.

    Therefore, as a coach, you will have to spend some time reflecting on your own performance as a coach and think about what you can do better to add more value to the conversation. But remember, this checklist is an iterative process, so ensure that you constantly update it based on your own capabilities and the needs of the team member you coach.

    And, finally, we come to step four – Implementation

    This is the trickiest part of the coaching exercise. You can implement the steps and techniques but measuring the performance and improvements can be difficult. To accurately understand how the coaching conversation is going and how you are faring as a coach, you need objective measures and feedback. Since you establish SMART goals as part of the coaching process, the coachee's progress is far easier to measure. But how do you measure your performance as a coach in an objective and realistic manner?

    One way to do it is by asking the coachee for feedback. That, unfortunately, is not entirely accurate as it is riddled with biases and the coachee's frame of mind. Self-reflection activities also may face a similar fate. This is not to say that these ways of measurement should be completely written off. Of course not! They are just better suited for more seasoned coaches.

    New or inexperienced coaches require a little bit more handholding. Think of it as coaching for coaches - a means to practice coaching ability in a safe environment without severe real-world implications, with real-time, objective feedback on performance. You could have a real-life coach do this for you, or you could turn to digital technologies to enable this at an accelerated manner.

    At KNOLSKAPE, we believe in immersive business simulations to help leaders accelerate capabilities. Among our repository of world-class simulations is the Coaching Simulation, designed to help leaders learn and implement the essentials of coaching, motivate their teams and master the nuances of dealing with emotions of team members.

    Watch coaching simulation video

    Simulations have proven to be a surefire way for demonstrable mindset change and improved business performance. This is true for all KNOLSKAPE simulations, coaching simulation included.

    If you’re interested to explore Coaching or any of KNOLSKAPE’s other simulations, click here.

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