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How to Transform Managers into Coaches

Customer service managers juggle a lot of roles and responsibilities in their day-to-day. While all of these roles are important to team success, effective coaching is absolutely crucial to leading and developing a team.

Today more than ever, opportunities for professional development and career growth are critical for customer service performance. In fact, a study by Deloitte found that organizations with leaders who coach effectively improve business results by 21%, compared to those who don’t. Additionally, coached employees are three times more likely to go the extra mile for their team.

Management training

Despite the importance and impact of coaching, research shows that 85% of highly disengaged employees are not receiving enough coaching from their manager. Many also believe that the feedback they do receive isn’t meaningful or doesn’t provide clarity for their learning and development. As another contributing factor to this disconnect, many managers don’t feel equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to provide helpful coaching to their employees.

For coaching to be an understood and effective form of customer service learning and development, managers must develop the styles, skills, and techniques needed for coaching. This transformation requires smarter training. Here are three strategies to help train managers to be coaches:

Give the manager their own coach

There is no more effective means for learning than hands-on experience. Managers who want to become great coaches should experience coaching firsthand. When a manager receives coaching from another leader, they’ll reap the benefits of coaching—and will be more inclined to become a competent coach for their team members.

This form of coaching also provides a model of how a new coach can deliver effective coaching sessions. Because feedback is such an important element to coaching, this an excellent opportunity to help new coaches define and establish key pieces feedback criteria for their own sessions. It also provides helpful examples of how to approach and tackle difficult conversations.

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Help managers understand different styles of coaching

It’s difficult for managers to make coaching part of their already hectic, everyday routine. Anticipating difficult conversations and planning the logistics of coaching sessions can make coaching feel cumbersome. A framework for how and when to deliver coaching will help managers easily establish expectations, provide ongoing coaching, and decide how to approach a wide range of situations. Help them start on the path to effective coaching with these types of conversations:

Role and relationship orientation: Coaching is all about fostering healthy relationships. This form of coaching should occur when a new agent joins the team—or if their responsibilities change.

Quick connections: These conversations are informal, but give the manager the opportunity to briefly connect with their agents to see how they’re doing.

Recurring check-ins: Coaching should always be a continual process. Consider scheduling more formal one-on-one meetings on a weekly or monthly basis to seek and give feedback on goal achievement, job priorities, and agent needs.

Developmental coaching: This form of coaching aims to guide agents to improved performance and career development. This is a great chance to review a recent interaction and provide immediate feedback that will help them drive future performance.

Teach relevant coaching skills

Coaching doesn’t necessarily come naturally to most managers, especially if they were recently promoted to lead the team. A recent survey found that 26% of managers said they weren’t ready to become a manager and 58% said they didn’t receive any management training at all. Tailored customer service coaching training is necessary to ensure a good manager also has the skills to be a good coach. Here are a few critical skills for which managers should receive additional training.

  • Active Listening: Great coaches are active listeners. Good listening makes it easier for them to gather important information and understand how their agents feel during coaching sessions.
  • Communication: Complex communication skills are necessary for coaching. Managers need to learn how to guide a conversation by asking the right questions, rather than merely giving direction.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Customer service teams are very diverse and complex. A developed sense of emotional intelligence helps managers read, understand, and respond to every agent.
  • Feedback: Frequently, managers approach coaching as a solution for when something is going wrong. However, they must become experts at providing both positive and negative feedback—regularly—in a way that fosters and encourages agents to do their best work.

It’s also essential to allow managers to put these skills to practice before they apply them to real-life situations. An online training environment creates a safe space for managers to practice hard conversations and hone their craft of deliberate coaching before they start coaching team members.

There’s more to transforming a successful customer service manager than just promoting a top-performer. It takes first-hand experience, helpful frameworks, and intentional training to turn great managers into great coaches. When managers are prepared to deliver essential and helpful coaching, their agents will become more equipped to do their job, motivated to do their best, and engaged with their work.