Carol Braddick's picture Submitted by Carol Braddick March 30, 2017 - 4:46pm

The HR Tech Market Heats Up
We’ve all sat next to that annoying business traveller who keeps his mobile going no matter what the flight crew say.  What’s got him hooked?  Emails can’t be that interesting.

He might be deep into his team’s latest engagement scores.  He doesn’t ask HR for his scores. Instead, he receives weekly dashboards that enable him to quickly understand hot topics such as the tone of employee responses on the previous day’s reorg announcement or what’s gone viral on social.  And he may be tapping away because he can also respond real-time to an issue that’s heating up among a group of employees. 

If the organizations where you coach aren’t keeping you up to date on the new tools their managers are using, you’ll miss out on data that you can leverage in coaching programs.  Coaches don’t need to track the fast-moving HR Tech market.  Instead, ask for an update on how the organization is working across these three broad trends:

Trend 1: People Analytics: 
The analysis of patterns in large sets of business and people data to:

  • support workforce decisions;
  • identify most promising points of intervention;
  • predict workforce needs and behaviors; and
  • measure impact of interventions.

Trend 2: The Consumerization of HR:

  • Digital tools across all areas of HR that meet or exceed our expectations from consumer tech, e.g., mobile access, intuitive design, social and gamified.; 
  • Just in time access to support personalized via machine learning to users’ needs and preferences; and
  • Continuous dialogue with employees across the full employee experience and continuous multidirectional feedback

Trend 3: The Democratization of People Data:

  • Transparency of data collection and analytic formulae;
  • Employees empowered with 24/7 mobile access to their own analytics and broader people and business data; and
  • Visibility into employees’ strengths, availability, assignments, achievements, and social capital (i.e., an open, intra-company LinkedIn).

Tools Your Clients May Already be Using 

Have you ever asked for a recap of “a week in the life” of your client?  What tools is she using, and what data, insights and recommendations do these tools serve up to her?  For three areas of the HR Tech market – feedback, learning and productivity – here is a sample of the types of tools your clients may already be using or close to adopting.  

Continuous Listening and Feedback
This niche of the HR Tech market offers tools that enable leaders to quickly identify actions with a high probability of the desired impact and commit resources to these actions.  Workometry’s engagement analytics, e.g., analyze tens of thousands of employee comments by focusing on the semantic meaning in comments instead of keyword frequency.  They are also able to identify perception contagion by looking at patterns of perceptions across work relationships.  Leaders working with PeakOn’s real time dashboard have a new page, Topics, that summarizes comments from thousands of employees.  There’s a smart summary for each topic, e.g., Growth, that displays the comments most representative of the set associated with a Topic.  Leaders can also click through to the full set of comments, acknowledge comments, or use the Conversations tool for anonymous dialogue with an employee. In addition to displaying focus areas for each leader, PeakOn provides tips for focus areas, e.g., a guide, e.g., on setting OKRs (objectives and key results).  

Multi-directional feedback is also “going continuous”, and not just at organizations that have dropped performance reviews or ratings.  Tools such as Tap My Back and Zugata make it easier to give feedback on the go.  Employees can create a team for sharing feedback or use the default set of people imported from email and project management tools.  Leaders can use the aggregated themes and trends in feedback at team or group levels to spot common development needs and underutilized strengths. They, or their teams, also receive recommendations on internal mentors and learning content driven by Zugata’s machine learning.  Employees and their managers can also see updates on feedback and progress on priority skill sets.
Personalised Social Learning at Scale 
Tech has also made it possible to challenge the conventional wisdom of an inevitable trade-off between the scale of a learning and development solution and its richness.  Everwise, a social learning platform, offers its users these assets:   

  • Just in time mobile access to content personalized to the employee’s evolving skill set, preferences, role and circumstances, e.g., new to the role and its challenges of managing up;
  • Personalized suggestions for connections to peers, peer networks, and internal and external experts; 
  • A high touch introduction to one or more mentors, matched based on her learning needs, career goals and preferences in a mentor; and
  • Prompts and tips across all resources and relationships on how to “take the learning back”.

Embedded Cognitive Productivity Tools 
Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics, a cognitive productivity tool that resides in Outlook, captures its user’s data to create a picture of how she uses her time and who she communicates with.  The dashboards generated from leaders’ data show who’s getting their attention, and who’s on the side-lines – across emails, videoconferences, messaging and meetings.  Like Google’s Goals, it also hones in that prized, elusive resource for leaders - open, unstructured time.  Time-poor leaders receive updates on how often they have “focus time” – two uninterrupted hours working solo.  When they use their focus time, they’ll get a prompt to disconnect during these hours.  Behavioral nudges utilizing social proof, e.g., “Julian, you’ve had x% fewer focus hours than other managers at your level”, may soon pop up.  

Benefits for Organizations, Leaders and Coaches

Buyers of executive coaching services will get more value from their investments in HR Tech and coaching if they proactively update coaches on the new tech their leaders use.  The up-to-date coach can integrate this tech into coaching programs in valuable ways such as:  

  • Starting with a baseline of a leader’s personal productivity and network analytics and need for the focus time to reflect on coaching sessions and experiments;
  • Leveraging the actions highlighted to improve engagement as opportunities to practice an approach or skill that is explicitly part of the leader’s coaching agenda;
  • Keeping up, real time, with the ongoing live feed of employee input about the leader; 
  • When discussing engagement results and feedback posted about a leader, observing how the leader responds to feedback;
  • Using network analytics to understand a leader’s activity across relationships in matrix organizations, so that coaching sessions focus on relationship quality and building new relationships; and
  • Comparing the analytics of a leader recently promoted into a more complex role with those of his new peers (in aggregate) to find tips on a successful transition. 

Today’s analytics tools highlight the most promising areas for change and action.  If it’s true that it “takes a village” to help a leader change long standing mindsets and behaviors, the rich learning ecosystems that serve up customized content, prompts and resources 24/7 is a key part of that village.   This opens a new chapter in evidence-based coaching.  We have better evidence for what leaders should work on and how they are progressing in their journeys.   

Miss Part 1 of this blog mini-series? Read Ready for a Tech Upgrade: Part 1!


Hello Carol, we haven't met but I spotted your session on Development of Coaching Apps for OB.
I'm cheekily asking if you would repeat a similar version for AOCS in Q3 this year for our members?

We normally run these on a Monday evening from 6-7pm. Please take a look at our website - we have around 140 members, mostly coaching supervisors, worldwide -

Be great to hear from you soon! Best wishes,
Peter Welch - board member
[email protected]