Coaching: A Tool to Top Performance
By Munirah Looi
The Business Need
Call Development has emerged from the increasing use and sophistication of call centre technology and the information it is capable of producing. We then used a variety of management information reports to be completed by Team Leaders, Operations Managers and Quality Assurance Representatives, to be submitted to Senior Management to quantifiably measure the quality of service we are providing our clients.
Whilst this satisfies the requirements of senior management, ensures that we are running our business profitably, and most importantly, keeps our clients happy, we must also actively use this information available to develop each and every individual within the team against the measurable criteria that is important to the business.
The Development Need
The objective of call development is to improve the performance of our campaigns through our people—quite simply, to make the most of the opportunity presented by the people we have recruited.
While we claim that “people are our greatest asset,” investing in a structured coaching programme makes the claim a reality.
In its basic form, a coaching session means that you, as a Team Leader or Quality Assurance Representative, are conducting remote call development sessions or sitting down next to a Customer Service Representative (CSR) listening to calls, giving performance feedback and formulating a development/follow up plan together.
What Is Coaching?
“Using day-to-day work as leaning experience.” – Buckley and Caple
Coaching is the act of developing the potential of one’s staff through personal guidance, and is often effective only through investing time and a great deal of effort.
In the call centre environment, it is vital to take into consideration everything that influences the performance of the person being coached; the nature of the department, the pressure within the call centre at that time, the customers, the performance and many other external factors.
In other words, coaching equates to side-by-side coaching or on-the-job training. It follows a guiding structure; the individual who is being coached is fully aware of what is happening; critique, discussion and feedback occur; and goals for improvement are set.
The Difference between a Sports Coach and a Call Centre Coach—or Is there Any Difference?
The coach and player set goals for the season and for each game. Goals are set for the players individually and for the team as a whole.
The coach ensures that the players have the skills necessary to play the game. When skills are lacking, the coach provides the training. The coach also works with the members of the team as a whole to ensure that the players can use the skills in ways that complement and support the team’s goals.
The coach and players spend time together, getting to know each other. This creates conditions that give players a clear sense of being part of something together.
The coach rewards players for excellent performance with recognition, opportunities to be starters or to enter the game if they have been on the bench, bonuses and key positions. Above all, the coach does everything within his or her power to see that the players win.
The coach watches the players perform during practices, games and with post-game films.
The coach provides feedback in ways the players find useful to improve their performance. Feedback is provided as input from the sidelines, time-out, and post-game films.
Notice any similarities in the approach?
Call Centre Coaching is about the what, when, why and how to coach.
What Is Coaching?
Coaching is helping someone to learn in order to improve job performance. It takes place on the job and recognises that people can learn from everyday work issues, such as performing a task or solving a problem.
When to Coach?
Ideally, coaching should be carried out on a planned and regular basis. But also whenever a subordinate has a problem, asks a question, or seeks advice.
Coaching leads to:
- Improved knowledge and understanding of staff
- More efficient delegation
- Greater job satisfaction
- Improved relationships with staff, e.g., greater trust and openness
- More innovative involvement from subordinates
- Increased adaptability and flexibility among subordinates
- Better-motivated subordinates
- Self-development through coaching others
- Increased ability to achieve targets
How to Coach—A Guideline to Key Aims
What do you want to achieve?
What does the individual you are coaching want to achieve?
How will you know when the required change has been accomplished?
What are the combined objectives and tqargets for yourself and the person being coached?
How long do you have to achieve the change?
Agree to each step and report progress back.
Agree on Tactics:
How will you proceed?
Who else will be involved?
What methods are you going to use?
How will progress be recognized?
Who will monitor progress?
How will progress be measured?
What progress has been made?
Consolidate learning—skills and knowledge.
Increasing Morale through Coaching
You know morale is high when:
- Employees ask to work on special projects, they like being together, they don’t clock watch and they come to work!
How to create high-morale levels:
- Make employees feel they are doing something that counts.
- Give employees real responsibility.
- Create conditions so employees experience success.
- Instill trust among team members.
Howe coaches contribute to poor employee performance:
- The coach’s own fear of failure.
- Hesitation by the coach to praise and reward.
- Lack of clarity as to what is wanted.
- Failure to provide feedback.
- Misunderstanding of the role and position of the coach relative to the players.
Coaching, an Approach
We’ve looked generally now at the what, when, why and how to coach, and now I’d like to take this a step further in looking at the specific aims of the coach, the aims that should lie behind coaching as a structure, and a checklist of coaching requirements.
Aims of the Coach
The main aims of the coach are to improve the skills and awareness, increasing job satisfaction and productivity resulting in increased standards, quality and profit.
Therefore coaches must be able to:
- Be open-minded
- Refrain from being pre-judgmental
- Evaluate good points as well as the weak
- Match a coaching session to the individual’s pace and needs
- Effectively use a range of coaching techniques to effect desired responses and skill improvement
- Motivate and encourage individuals to stretch themselves
- Be flexible and adaptable to each individual without compromising standards
Aims of Coaching
- To enable the employee to better appreciate his or her strengths and weaknesses
- To encourage the employee to establish goals or targets for further performance improvement
- To monitor and review an the employees’ progress in achieving goals or targets
- To identify any problems that may be adversely affecting progress
- To assist the employees in generating alternatives and an action plan for dealing with problems that have been identified
- To improve the employees’ understanding of the work environment
- To assist in the realisation of potential
Ascertaining General Coaching Requirements
In advance of any coaching session, certain objectives must be formulated to give the session a structure. The following questions can be of some use to aid effective planning.
- What is the training required for?
- What is the nature of those who need coaching?
- Which training methods will be most effective?
- What training aids are required?
- Where will you be coaching?
- How much time is allocated and how long do you need?
- How are you going to measure how well these objectives have been met?
“The measure of success of a coach is that the performers outgrow their coach’s ability to coach them.”
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Munirah Looi is the CEO and Founder of Brandt International. She is experienced in the areas of Customer Relationship Management, Customer Service Management, Human Performance Management, Strategic Management, Business Process Redesign, Sales and Marketing, and Project Management, and all in all, has 20 years' experience working in these various fields. She is also an experienced facilitator, a human performance strategist, a Service Quality Management and a Change Management practitioner.