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Don’t Forget Accountability in Your Coaching Toolbox

The call was bad. Really bad. The coaching I witnessed after the call was arguably worse, but it proved to be a great lesson I want to share with you.

Years ago, our team and the client team were listening to calls together. Then we heard the call. It was awful from the beginning and only went downhill. After the listening session, the agent who took that call was immediately pulled for coaching. I sat in to observe this coaching session. It began with an honest mistake - using the Pendleton Feedback Model.

There are many types of feedback or coaching models. A very popular and effective model for feedback is the Pendleton Feedback Model, commonly known as the WWW/EBI (What Went Well/Even Better If) Model of feedback. The Model originated in David Pendleton's 1984 publication, The Consultation: An Approach to Learning and Teaching, and acts as a tool to cultivate self-assessment and reflection on performance.

The beginning of the model (What Went Well) focuses on behaviors that were executed well and contributed to a positive outcome. The next part of the model focuses on improvement opportunities (Even Better If). Specific high-value opportunities are then agreed upon as areas of focus for the agent to work on going forward.

This model is often quite effective within the context of reviewing a call or other customer interaction because it allows reflections on actual behaviors within the context of an interaction. While this model is both incredibly flexible and incredibly effective, it doesn't work in all situations. And that's why, on this day, it all went downhill.

After listening to the call, the Team Leader asked the agent, "What went well with that call?" The agent's agitated response was truthful, saying, "Ain't nothin' went well with that."

The first purpose of the model is to reinforce behaviors that contribute to a positive outcome, but in this call, there weren't any to highlight. The Team Leader pressed on, likely because I was observing, and she wanted to stick to the model. But with each question about "went wells", as we called them, the agent grew more frustrated and less trusting of her Team Leader. This was not effective coaching.

This Team Leader had relied so much on the Pendleton Model that she failed to recognize when it wasn't appropriate for the situation. It's a model designed to take "good to great." This call was clearly not good. What was needed in this moment was some good old accountability. This agent knew exactly what she did wrong. She knew her performance on this call didn't meet expectations. She had the skill, but in this case, she didn't exercise the will to meet expectations. What she needed was her Team Leader to hold her accountable to the basic expectations of call handling.

While it might not be comfortable, we all need to be held accountable for our actions sometimes. The lesson she learned was that you need the right tool for the job and on this day, she was trying to use the wrong tool.

Coaching, like a lot of things in life, is complex. It requires forethought. It also requires different approaches to different situations. Accountability is to correct "will", not "skill" issues. An accountability approach for a skill is required when someone:

  • knows how to execute
  • has executed consistently in the past
  • knows they are expected to execute
  • chooses not to execute

The conversation should be very focused. It should:

  • Begin with a review of the failed execution.
  • Be specific.
  • Review past coaching and performance expectations.
  • Ask why they chose not to execute - overcome excuses and potentially identify legitimate barriers.
  • Assuming there are no barriers, reinforce your expectations, discuss consequences of not meeting them, and get a commitment to meet them going forward.

Follow up to observe them successfully execute as soon as practicable. If you've done the work to build trusting relationships within your team, you'll find this method highly effective in correcting "will" issues.

Topics: Coaching And Quality Management, Employee Experience, Customer Experience