Coaching Can Get Expensive, So These Companies Have Turned To Technology For Training


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When home improvement company Premium Service Brands wanted to coach franchisees in hiring and distance selling during the coronavirus pandemic, it tried to replicate classroom learning through video calling. But, says Deb Jewell, the company’s vice president of learning, people didn’t always remember what they learned online and translate it into real life storylines.

Premium Service Brands owns brands such as DIY company House Doctors and decorating company 360 Painting and set out to create a virtual reality platform to provide franchisees with a “hands-on” way to put what they want into practice. they had learned, Jewell told CNBC over the phone. Instead of spending over an hour on a video call with an accountant explaining a balance sheet, which some interns found “pretty boring,” the company created a financial simulation based on real life scenarios.

“They look at the financial statements, they try to project the impact on their finances of the decisions they make… They then get a new set of financial statements that reflect that decision, and they go through several months of decision making in one afternoon, ”says Jewel. The year has gone from boring to exciting, added Jewell, and it’s something franchisees can better understand.

While the initial cost of setting up such a system is higher than learning in the classroom, Jewell said it is more effective because people learn faster.

Speed ​​was key for UK social media advertising specialist Pink Leopard, who saw their world “upside down” when Apple updated its operating system in April, causing problems for advertising on Facebook as people opted out of tracking.

The agency spent around £ 23,000 ($ 30,405) to coach seven employees through a series of videos on how to make Facebook ads more effective, as well as a program to help grow the agency itself. While Pink Leopard owner Laura Hanlon said it was too early to estimate return on investment as staff are still undergoing training, there have been “huge improvements”.

Customers benefit: “It allows us to help our customers really grow and evolve, because they can now see the [Facebook ad effectiveness] black and white numbers, whereas it used to be a bit of a finger in the air, ”Hanlon told CNBC by phone.

Personal development

Hanlon has always believed in personal development, she added. Before setting up the agency, she was a freelance writer and said she spent thousands of dollars on training. “I really wanted to achieve the best results for my clients and [to] always be up to date with new strategies and techniques, ”she said over the phone.

Virtual coaching seems ready to take off. San Francisco-based BetterUp believes the technology can be used to train people at scale and in September announced the acquisition of software company Motive, which analyzes conversation data to determine how employees are feeling. It also uses an algorithm to recommend any coaching an employee might need with their IdentifierAI product. The company claims to be “the biggest coaching and mental health company” and is now valued at $ 4.7 billion after an increase in October.

Coaching was a new experience for Govind Balakrishnan, founder of Curio, an audio app where people can listen to news and articles from the Financial Times and The Guardian. Balakrishnan, whose background is in strategy at the BBC, had never founded or run his own business before and turned to coaching to help him with his leadership style as the business went on. expands.

“I come from India, where traditionally there has been a distrust of anything to do with training [or] therapy … things are changing [but] it’s kind of a cultural baggage that I had, ”he told CNBC via video call.

Young female entrepreneur in smart glasses makes a video call with a laptop in the coworking office. Remote teamwork and modern telecommunication.

Yana Iskayeva | instant | Getty Images

Curio, who is based in London, hired coaches from an organization called The Alliance around the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. “We entered the pandemic right after raising our Series A [funding] with a very different kind of culture. And we weren’t set up to operate entirely remotely. We weren’t on scale. We were not created to empower people. And it was a journey for us, “he said.

The first coaching sessions focused on Balakrishnan’s sense of perfectionism. “I come from a culture that is, no excuses, you don’t take vacations, you work and you don’t take prisoners, [an] upwards or out of kind of politics. And it’s not a good approach to inspire people and build something bigger than yourself, ”he said. Now he says his leadership style is more empathetic and he and other bosses have learned to listen to staff more.

Could technology make coaching accessible to more junior staff? “The tools can certainly complement [one-to-one] coaching, but for us it’s about fixing the equipment, it’s us, isn’t it? How we build the culture, how we build the product, how we build empathy, it’s the behaviors. And once you get them installed, they evolve, ”Balakrishnan said.

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