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  • Part 4: Make a Resolution to Start Coaching

    Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2015

    by PhonePRO

You might be fine with coaching and monitoring conceptually. But when the time comes to actually do it, one often finds a new stress arising when thinking about the conversations that need to be had. Suddenly, you seem to have lots of other work that you really need to catch up on. One may think, ‘Once I’ve completed this task at hand THEN I’ll have a coaching conversation.’ If you’re really good at this, you can establish ‘getting ready to get ready’ activities that serve to never get you out and coaching.  Time to Start Coaching

Why is coaching so scary and frightening? How do you tell someone else what to do? Worse, how do you tell them that what they are doing is wrong? There’s the flaw that causes the fright: Telling is all monologue and all the pressure is on you! Don’t tell.

Ask. Asking begins a discussion that leads to a conversation. That’s giving feedback within our framework of coaching, which is the activity of working one-on-one with an individual for the purpose of self-development, employee engagement, and maintaining continuous high standards of customer service. (See Part One of this series.)

Think of a good coach. I remember taking golf lessons – not necessarily a fond memory! I’d take a swing, look at the golf pro and he’d ask, “Where was your head?” to which I’d quickly reply, “I don’t know. Where was it?” He rarely let me get away with that. He’d ask again, “No, think about it. Review the swing. Where was your head?” We’d do that with my elbow, my hip, my hand position, etc. Nothing was where it was supposed to be, but the feedback he gave me wasn’t ‘telling’ it was ‘asking’. By asking this question, he made me think, on purpose, about my positioning, my grip, my stance, my swing. He made me be intentional with my motions. With my focus. What the students come to know for oneself is powerful learning. Masterful.

There are volumes on the subject of learning to give excellent feedback. Most of which include a staircase of steps to follow and arrays of how to start the conversation. I get lost in those lists or maps on how to proceed. I cannot reduce those steps down to a wallet-sized, easy-to-carry copy that I can refer to when the moment for a coaching conversation arises. (Because not all coaching conversations should be planned. Coaching is also a spontaneous ‘catch them while they did something good’ moment, too!) So here’s your 4-Step Formula for Giving Feedback:

4-Step Formula for Giving Feedback
Step One: Ask a question.
Step Two: Listen to the answer.
Step Three: Repeat steps One and Two. (Not really a ‘new’ step)
Step Four: Offer ‘ideas’ as needed.

Sounds too simple, right? In a way, yes. Because developing the talent on your team is still ‘work’, but this formula helps remove the fright. Let’s look at a scenario: A call has just finished, your rep finishes entering the call information into your customer database and turns to you and asks, “Well, how did I do?” In the past, you might have gone ahead and answered this question which starts you down the ‘telling’ path:

Coach:Not bad. You need to open the history screen during the call, though, and not wait until you’re putting in the notes after the call is over. Had you done that, I bet you would have noticed the customer has an application in process with us. You could have given them a status update on it. That would have been better service to the customer.

Instead, answer the question with a question:

Coach: How did it feel to you?

Rep: I guess it felt OK. Do you have any feedback for me on where I could do better?

Coach: Why was it OK and not terrible or terrific?

Rep: Oh, I don’t know, really. I answered their question alright but I wouldn’t say they were thrilled that they called today. Coach: Was there a chance to add anything that would have achieved an ‘I’m so thrilled I called’ response from the customer?

Rep: You know, not really. That was a straight forward question and I answered it. I didn’t check their history file while I had them on the phone, though. When I put the notes in from the call, I saw where they have an open application on file with us. I could have mentioned that and offered to check on the status of it for them.

Notice that the formula feeds on itself beautifully. As you listen to the answer from your question, your very next question is formed from that answer. Now you have a conversation where the student is learning, for themselves, where they are in their skills, where they can go with new skills, and the impact those newly learned skills will have on the customer experience and to the business’ reputation. What an improvement from ‘telling’ feedback that informs the rep what they need to do!

So all you need is a handful of good starter questions and the rest is, literally, born out of conversation. If your reps are likely to start the coaching process by asking how they did, then you already have a handle on what your first question is. What if they get used to you doing that and suddenly turn to you and say, “That was a great call, wasn’t it?” If you agree with their assessment, smile in agreement and then ask, “Tell me why it was great – what happened?” If you don’t agree, don’t smile and ask the same question. They’ll understand your question just the same. If you are the first person to start the coaching process, here are a handful of questions for you to be ready with. Most of them will require some customization from your end based on your callers/ products/ services, but you’ll get the jist:

  • How did that call go for you, Linda?
  • What seemed to work really well for you in that call, Sharon?
  • Why did you approach this caller differently, Jason?
  • What happened when you mentioned the extended coverage plan?
  • When did you feel the call going south, Amber?
  • If you could do that call over again, what would you change?
  • Where else could you have advised the caller to check for that information?

You will find tremendous success in your conversations by not telling. You and your rep(s) will be discussing, diagnosing, and determining development opportunities together! If you find yourself in a position where you have to ‘tell’, remember the concepts of ‘Standards’, ‘Styles’, and ‘Ideas’ as described in Part 2 and Part 3.

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