Being a digital coach at Xylos… What’s that like?

Katrin Kulawik

I’ve been a digital coach for over fifteen years now. My job? I help organization’s end users (that’s IT speak for “people” by the way). How? I get them to understand their IT tools in order to eventually get the best use out of them. So, in the end, my goal is simply to make people more productive. And so, automatically, I get to reduce their stress, by saving them and their organization precious time. Time that these people get to devote to their actual job.

Generally, organizations tend to underestimate how much time and energy is wasted, struggling with IT tools. What’s even more underestimated, is how a bit of encouragement and guidance can, essentially, give people their real job back. As a digital coach for Xylos, you get to put back the “talent” in “talent manager” and the “sales” in “sales manager”. You get people to do what they do best, even better.

The reciprocal coach – end user relationship

When I tell people what I do for a living, they tend to assume I’m in the business of teaching or transmitting knowledge. Fair enough. But, first, at Xylos we don’t consider “transmitting knowledge” to be sufficient. Rather, it’s one of the steps towards anchoring true digital literacy, or simply put, towards using digital tools fluently. Second, in every project I take on, I actually learn as much myself as I teach others.

I have the theoretical knowledge of the digital tools. When I guide people in diverse organizations and functions, I continue to discover the impressive applicability of digital tools, like for instance Microsoft 365. People explain their daily work to me, and then we see together how to put the IT tools at their service, and get them to work as quickly and as comfortably as possible.

An example: the cloud is still a rather mystical concept for corporate end users. Their employer asks them to store their files online for data security and cost-related reasons. But I notice that it still leaves them somewhat uncomfortable. Often, they don’t know which storage space to choose exactly.

So, just to be sure, they store the same files in a variety of places. “Not too big an issue,” you’d think. But imagine 250 people reasoning this way with hundreds of files on tens of projects. You quickly start to see what type of mess this can create. One that your IT service desk is then expected to simply solve. How is that fair, right? Anyway, at Xylos we identify numerous issues like these that are under the customer’s radar. Then we come up with a change management or “digital adoption” plan to steer their entire network of people in the right direction. As a digital coach, I’m like a medic and a sergeant at once, accompanying customers’ front line soldiers in daily battle.

Webinars designed around the user’s needs

Of course, a good military leader keeps an ear to the ground for soldiers’ feedback. By doing so, I get to understand issues more precisely and react accordingly. Often, a concern externalized by one person, reveals a difficulty many others struggle with. A great modern solution to turn to in that case can be: organizing a webinar.

During one coaching session, this is how, together with an employee, Julie, I revealed a more general difficulty with cloud storage in one organization. As I explained to Julie, the use of OneDrive (her personal storage space on the corporate cloud), she told me she and her colleagues tend to simply send files to one another, whenever requested. When I asked her for a concrete example, she realized couldn’t longer account for all the people the file had been shared with. She also recognized that many misunderstandings that existed around the subject of that file might have originated from just that fact. Colleagues had been discussing topics, while each basing themselves on a maybe just a slightly different version of the document.

I organized a webinar in which I recommended, among other things, a monthly audit and cleanup of shared data. The webinar helped to increase productive use of OneDrive, but also made people aware of the security risks, associated to not governing documents and data diligently. So, thank you, Julie, for drawing my attention to this point, at a time when productivity cybersecurity are major concerns for pretty much all companies.

Solving information overload

During another coaching session, on Microsoft Teams this time, it was Philip who pointed out to me that he couldn’t find his way around the tool. I was surprised because he didn’t come across as someone that wasn’t digitally savvy. He had been absorbing the knowledge about Teams rather effortlessly. “It’s just too much information, files, messages… Then in Teams, then in Outlook…. It’s just chaos” Philip boldly stated.

Once again: great feedback. I can only thank Philip for making it utterly evident that a good knowledge of the tool is really not enough. If a collaborative tool is used by its various members without consensus on how they are going to use the tool as a team, then indeed, it’s chaos. And finally discouragement and disinterest sets in. The whole It investment risks to become a failure.

As a result, in my seminars, I dedicate an entire chapter to this important lesson.

I have plenty of examples, like Julie and Philip. Users’ questions during my coaching sessions, their use cases and the problems they encounter force me to continually review my point of view and reinvent myself. They undoubtedly contribute to the enrichment of the sessions I offer, and I thank them a thousand times.

Long live reciprocal learning!

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