How AI can help managers be better coaches

April 21, 2021 Cyril Le Mat

More and more people are searching for purpose in the workplace. Recent research from the Cornerstone People Research Lab (CPRL) found that globally, 66% of employees said meaningful work was “extremely” or “very” important when choosing an employer, and in order to find meaning in what we do in the workplace, we often turn to our peers and managers.

A good manager is someone who can provide guidance and support to help employees be the best they can be at work and to do this successfully, managers must have an understanding of each employee’s work and goals to be able to effectively guide them to a solution. Essentially, they must become coaches.

Coaching employees to success

Management styles have evolved over the years, and there is no right way to manage a person but one increasing trend being commonly adopted in the workplace is coaching. Instead of offering advice or mentoring, coaches will ask questions to understand ongoing work and goals, such as: What parts of your job are most interesting and rewarding? What areas are you finding most challenging right now? What are you doing to reach short- and long-term career goals? How can I help? These open questions allow for employees to really think things through, fuelling meaningful conversations about their career and uncovering potential barriers or challenges. It allows managers to have a better understanding of employees’ goals while letting employees seek out actions on how to achieve those goals.

But in order to know which questions to ask, managers need to first understand the employee themself – what skills they currently have, their interests and professional aspirations. All of which can be challenging to keep up with if managers are not in constant contact with employees or if employees change their goals over time. But this is where AI can help.

AI as a coaching tool

Effective coaching requires a personalised experience from the coach but in large organisations where managers are dealing with lots of people, it can be challenging to keep up with each and every employee’s professional goals, especially if they change over time. Plus, new employees may come along with completely different skills and aspirations.

By feeding an AI solution with employee data, whether it’s lifted from their CV, LinkedIn profile or  previous training courses they’ve taken, managers are able to quickly profile their employees, identifying their skillsets and gaining an overall better understanding of how they want to progress in their career. The Cornerstone Skills Graph, for example, is a skills taxonomy of over 53,000 unique skills pulled from job positions across a variety industries, which organisations can leverage to instantly match skills across people and job roles within the organisation.

With this information, managers are able to form more personalised questions to coach employees in their career. And given that AI also has the ability to provide personalised recommendations based on the data, managers are also better equipped to help employees progress in their career.

Coaching is one of the many hats that managers wear, and a strong coaching culture can bring many benefits to the organisation with the right tools and data. Managers certainly aren’t superhuman and cannot solve every single issue or challenge that employees have, but with the help of AI they have the power to uncover deep skills profiles for their employees, keeping them engaged in the workplace and driving them towards success.

For more information on how to utilise AI in your organisation, visit the Cornerstone Innovation Lab for AI.

About the Author

Cyril Le Mat

Cyril Le Mat is a Data Science executive with over 10 years of experience building data teams and machine learning products for startups and tech companies. After graduating from the Ecole Centrale de Nantes with a master’s degree in mathematics and computer science, he worked as a Management Consultant and Data Analyst for various companies. He then joined several French startups as Head of Data Science : Cheerz (acquired by cewe) and HostnFly. In 2018, he joined Clustree, a HR Artificial Intelligence platform focused on skills framework and careers,where he built a technology that surpassed the state of the art of the market and was acquired by Cornerstone OnDemand. He is now an international expert in Artificial Intelligence applied to HR, developing machine learning products at Cornerstone OnDemand.

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