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Great Coaches Take Responsibility For Success

This blog post originally appeared on the Intradiem blog on March 14, 2013.

I don’t think any contact center leaders will be surprised if I suggested that some of their Agents aren’t self-motivated individuals. And some might be motivated, but don’t fully understand how to make the skill improvements needed.  As Leaders, we need to take responsibility for helping each agent reach their full skills potential.

Unfortunately some supervisors and quality coaches take the “passive” coaching approach as in my examples below.

“You need to improve…Now Go Do It” Coaching

I recently observed a quality analyst who did an excellent job identifying what the agent needed to work on.  After the coaching session, the analyst simply said,  “Here’s your quality form. Thanks for coming in. Let me know if you need anything.”

The agent left with a list of things to work on but no concrete ways to work on them.  The analyst never offered to demonstrate or role play with the agent. He told me, “These are adults. They should know what is expected and do it.”

I asked the agent afterwards how she felt about the session.  She told me, “They keep telling me to work on empathy but I have no idea how to do it. I’m not comfortable doing it but he just says, ‘Keep trying’. “

“Read This Email” Coaching Style

A supervisor I was working with said that her time was limited for coaching.  Her solution was to email Agents on her team individually in lieu of meeting with them.  She wrote what she heard on their calls and added, “Please come see me if you have any questions”.

I asked some of her agents about the “email coach” approach.  Most told me that they read her coaching email and then filed it away into the dark recesses of their mailboxes.  They felt that the supervisor offer to “answer questions” wasn’t really heartfelt.  The only time she met with each of them privately was if a customer complained or it was review time. They saw the prospect of a coaching “meeting” as a time where they would be told what they were doing wrong.  Negative passive coaching at its worst.

How Can We  Take A More Responsible Role in Coaching?


  1. Be an active participant:  roll up your sleeves to discuss, demonstrate, role play.  Sit in their seat and take calls while they observe and let them rate your skills and discuss.
  2. Create a Coaching Action Plan together with your agent:  What will you do to help, What will they be working on, When will you get together again…and then be responsible for timely follow-up and your commitment to help.
  3. Encourage and reward when improvements are shown: don’t wait for them to reach 100% perfection.  Notice efforts and reward verbally, in writing, and with small treats and items. Use free or inexpensive small incentives more frequently, in addition to your larger incentives.

Make coaching interactive, fun, motivating and above all, take responsibility for coaching success!