Why We Developed CDR-U Coach, Our Avatar Coaching Technology

Retaining talent in the foreseeable future will not be easy. To adapt to the talent needs of the future, development opportunities need to be provided to all employees, not just the top few. Interestingly, executive coaching is provided for those typically in the last third or quarter of their career span. Sometimes high potential employees are afforded coaching, but even these individuals are usually in the last half of their careers.

Younger employees need personalized development and coaching to help their careers flourish and to reach their true potential. In fact, the younger employees arguably need this type of coaching even more than executives in their golden career years. For example, understanding one’s strengths and passions is crucial to find the performance and career path that best fits one’s strengths and needs. However, there is another important aspect of personality that must be identified and understood for employees to reach their true capability. One’s personality-based risk factors are traits that show up when facing stress, adversity or conflict and can cause even the most promising career to go off track, be stymied or to flounder. Therefore, if more junior employees become aware of their risk factors earlier in their careers, they can learn ways to manage and prevent these naturally occurring behaviors to avoid early career demise or pigeonholing caused by risk behaviors running amok.

To provide personalized development and in-depth coaching for all employees sounds like an irrational or budget-busting idea. It has been an unrealistic option—until now.

Correspondingly, here are a few studies that demonstrate how much those early in their careers want opportunities for personal growth:

  • Bridge survey data finds that offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position. [i]
  • Qualtrics reports roughly 80 percent of millennials said that an emphasis on personal growth is the most important quality of a company's culture. [ii]
  • Though newcomers to the professional world—the oldest Gen-Zer today is pushing 25—Gen-Z is highly motivated to grow their careers with 76% seeing learning as the key to their advancement. [iii]

To provide personalized development and in-depth coaching for all employees sounds like an irrational or budget-busting idea. It has been an unrealistic option—until now. In fact, now is the time to make a budget for talent development and CDR offers the budget-friendly solution to deliver essential personalized development for all employees.

People today, particularly younger employees, are tech savvy. In response to today’s trends, CDR developed a digital coaching platform called CDR-U Coach that coaches through avatars. Interestingly, we have learned from early users that millennials and Gen-Zers welcome this approach. Many prefer this process of receiving their feedback from an avatar and, in this way, not being “judged” by a human. Many said they felt safer hearing their feedback from an avatar. With their selected avatar, they can confidentially listen to the frank, direct feedback and developmental insights. Users can take their time, digest the information and even pause if they wish to, to process the feedback and write notes, although they receive extensive coaching reports. They can go back at any time as their career progresses or situations become challenging. They can also revisit and refresh when they are thinking about a promotion or a new career opportunity. The user can continue to update and build on their personal development or career action plans with accurate data and feedback to guide them.

The future of talent development requires organizations to:

  1. Democratize: provide opportunities for everyone—not just executives and selected high potentials.
  2. Personalize: development needs to be all about the employee and their true talent; canned, generic or generalized development courses are not sufficient.
  3. Digitize: technology is required to digitize development to scale so that one’s budget can allow one to offer in-depth coaching and a personal developmental planning for all.

CDR-U Coach is a solution that meets all three of these requirements. CDR-U Coach provides personalized coaching feedback and action planning guidance based on the results of the in-depth CDR Assessments. The CDR Assessments measure one’s in-depth character traits, inherent risks factors, and drivers and reward needs. Driven by complex algorithms leveraging rich data with predictive results, CDR-U Coach provides an A/I type experience for users with no two individuals receiving the same feedback—it is that personalized. This first of its kind scalable talent development solution is available 24/7 to users and offers developmental planning modules. Now, organizations can provide top-to-bottom coaching and personalized development with executives continuing to receive the in-person coaching.

Effective personalized development requires a deep understanding of oneself. According to a HBR study, only 10 to 15% of people are actually self-aware [iv]. This translates to people who make performance, development and career missteps routinely since they aren’t clear about their own true talent related to their strengths, gaps, risks and motivational needs. CDR-U Coach, by design, personalizes the coaching feedback to provide a new keen level of self-awareness.

What about the Weirdness of the Avatar?

Many may still think having coaching feedback by an avatar is a bit weird. The avatars are human-like and are not cartoon characters. With CDR-U Coach, users can select their avatar, and if they don’t like the one they choose, they can change it and select another at any time. There are various genders, races, ages and voices offered. To be clear, the avatar feedback is not gamification or a Pixar movie-type experience. Our purpose is not entertainment. Rather, the objective is to deliver valuable, personal coaching feedback that is individualized based on each unique persons’ results on the CDR Assessments. The design is functional and intended to communicate essential, need to know personalized feedback to help all employees improve their performance, careers, job and life satisfaction.

One executive coach who has an extensive counseling background expressed concern early on about losing the “human touch.” In an ideal world, we would provide live in-depth coaching debriefs to all employees, which takes about 2.5 to 3 hours plus time for developmental action planning discussions. However, the costs of conducting live coaching with scientifically validated assessments by trained experts is not economically feasible. Remember, executive coaching only covers about 15 to 20% of people in organizations. CDR-U Coach provides the scalable solution to reach every employee with confidential personalized coaching to make sure their performance and careers are on the best track for success. Younger people crave feedback and support on their personal career development, and CDR-U Coach satisfies this need.

Another bonus to using CDR-U Coach is that since it is an enterprise solution to talent management, the objective assessment data can also be used for succession planning, team development, custom training designs, talent capability analysis, finding hidden talent, improving D & I initiatives and more. Using the avatar coaching platform is a win-win for each employee and the organization!

 By Nancy Parsons

[i] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/millennials-are-most-likely-to-stay-loyal-to-jobs-with-development-opportunities-300682301.html  (getbridge.com)

[ii] https://www.inc.com/ryan-jenkins/want-to-retain-more-millennials-in-2018-offer-this-1-thing.html

[iii] https://www.forbes.com/sites/markcperna/2021/03/02/why-skill-and-career-advancement-are-the-way-to-gen-zs-heart/?sh=26a9989122b5

[iv] https://hbr.org/2018/01/what-self-awareness-really-is-and-how-to-cultivate-it