Corndel Advance, Management

Coaching survey results: Extra support needed for managers during the pandemic

06 July 2020

Since the start of 2020, Corndel’s Professional Development Expert (PDE) coaches have delivered nearly 40,000 hours of coaching to more than 3,500 middle and senior managers on our apprenticeship programmes.

Half of those coaching hours have been during the Covid-19 crisis, providing us with valuable insights into what employees from some of the UK’s largest businesses are struggling with, and what development and support they really need.

We know that L&D teams are looking to create a sustainable learning delivery model that works for the new ‘blended’ workplace. COVID-19 has expedited the need for talent professionals to focus efforts on development that truly meets current learner needs and has an immediate impact on productivity.

Team and personal effectiveness challenges experienced by our learners 

In order to tap into the collective insight within our business, we surveyed 100 Corndel PDEs, asking them to consider 26 statements about their learners’ team and personal effectiveness challenges and rate them as highly significant, moderately significant, slightly significant or not at all significant 

We’d like to share the findings with you to help you support your managers and inform your short and mid-term L&D strategy. 

What does this mean for leaders and L&D teams? 

The most common challenges identified by our coaches fit broadly into three themes which, if tackled through just-in-time learning and development as well as managerial/mentoring support, could make a huge difference to employees.

Priority 1: Well-being and resilience in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world 

91% of survey respondents reported their manager learners want support in balancing the collective demands of family, home and work. 

Our survey shows thatthree months into the pandemic, mid and senior managers are trying to deal with their own stress, overwhelm or anxiety at the same time as looking out for signs of mental health struggles of their team members. For manyjuggling the collective demands of family, work and home remains a daily battle. 

The uncertainty and volatility of the situation show few signs of abating and managers at all levels need to be encouraged to prioritise self-care and developing or refreshing personal resilience techniques. Being able to bounce back from inevitable setbacks is crucial right now and managers are likely to respond well to practical techniques for establishing a positive mindset in difficult times. It’s important to start with self development and then to focus on building team resilience; which ultimately is the ideal breeding ground for finding creative and innovative solutions.

Priority 2: Effective communication in a changing workplace 

91% of survey respondents reported their manager learners want support in communicating effectively in a virtual world. 

There are two factors at play that are disrupting ‘normal’ lines of communication across teams. First, the majority of managers have seen their teams move to remote working where there is no face-to-face contact for months on end, and with no clear plan as to how the new workplace set-up will pan out. The challenges of a remote manager/direct report relationship include getting the right level of connectivity to avoid both overwhelm and isolation, and building/retaining trust 

Our survey shows that managers are finding this difficult and they are constantly questioning their communication style, frequency and messaging to remote team members. The second disrupting factor has been the meteoric rise in uncertainty and ambiguity and its impact on leadership communications. Balancing positivity with painful-to-hear truths about business performance and job security is taking its toll on managers. They are keen for guidance on how best to communicate during uncertain, changing times.  

Priority 3: Leading a high-performing, motivated team  

88% of survey respondents reported their manager learners want support in motivating their teams during this crisis. 

Our survey reveals that managers need support if they are to motivate their teams amid uncertainty and continuous change. The managerial landscape has become exponentially more complex over recent months. Those with people management responsibilities need a sophisticated set of skills to help them uncover individual motivations that collectively drive a dynamic and high-performing team. 

Never was it more poignant to consider that a team is made up of individuals, each with their own drivers and obstacles. It’s about individual and team purpose; and how a leader expertly identifies intrinsic motivation – ie inspiration that comes from within – and nurtures it to create a team culture that is optimistic, innovative and productive.  

What help is available for your employees? 

In response to these insights, we are continuing to support all our learners through one-to-one coaching, flexing the focus of those conversations to ensure learners are getting the help they need to thrive during this turbulent period. 

We are also working with clients in a range of sectors to provide practical support to their employees who are not currently enrolled on a coaching-led apprenticeship programme. Do talk to us if you’d like to find out more about how our work aligns with your existing talent strategy, and how we maintain a people-first approach to remote delivery of training.

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