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Coaching 101: It's About Development, Not Correction

Over the years I imagine I have listened to thousands of customer service phone calls.  Many times my listening was a part of a coaching session with a rep.  When it comes to coaching, I've seen both ends of the extremes.  I've been in contact centers where coaching sessions are celebrated, looked forward to, and even requested by the agents.  And, I've experienced the opposite.  Centers where even the mere mention of a coaching session can result in a "no call/no show."

Contact Center Coaching

What's the difference between these two extremes?  It's simple, really.  When coaching is a part of an overall employee development strategy, it thrives.  Conversely, when coaching is conducted to correct mistakes and errors, well, employees run from it. In truth, Supervisors, Team Leads, and QA personnel don't much like it either!

Today I want to focus on creating a coaching strategy that genuinely facilitates growth and is a part of a broader employee engagement strategy.

You are responsible for the growth and development of your direct reports.  Start by creating a specific development plan for each team member, and don't do that in a vacuum.  Bring the employees into the process.  To help them advance, you need to know where they want to go!

Join Bill this November 12-14 at ICMI Contact Center Demo. He'll be participating in session 504: Answers to Your Burning Contact Center Questions.

Identify the skills they must master to advance and move forward.  Of course you need to help them develop the skills they need to succeed in their current role.  But there should be a focus on the next step in their career, too.  With a development plan in place, your coaching sessions focus on improving skills for today's assignments as well as grooming skills for the next step.

Build a schedule for your time with your reps. Rather than taking an ad-hoc approach to conducting a coaching session, schedule those sessions.  Get them on the calendar so that both you and your reps can plan and prepare for them.

Create an agenda and goals for each coaching session.  What do you want to accomplish?  How will you go about achieving each goal?  Growth is rarely accidental.  Creating goals will help you guide their growth.

Make sure that when you are meeting one-on-one in a coaching session with your reps that you are focused during your time with them.  Secure a quiet room versus rolling your chair up to their workstation.  Block the time on your calendar to reduce or eliminate interruptions.  And take a moment to clear your head before the session.  Focus on what you want to accomplish and how you are going to do that!

When you meet with your rep, calibrate on the goals of your time together.  If they know what the focus of the session is, you are much more likely to achieve your goals.

During your time with the reps make sure to ask questions!

"What are you feeling good about?"

"Is there anything specific you need some help with?"

"What would you like to accomplish in the next 30, 60, 90 days?"

It is so important to know these things about your direct reports and the best way to do that is to ask!

Finally, make sure to focus on positives during each session.  People grow when they are building off of their strengths.  Yes, there may be the need to "correct" something.  But even that can be positioned positively.  For example, "I think you will have even greater success if you…"

There may be no greater responsibility than the development of your direct reports.  When your coaching becomes about honing skills and helping employees grow beyond their current role, your reps will embrace the experience and look forward to coaching sessions.  And so will you!