By David Saxby
If you were to review the memories from your youth, chances are there was a teacher, a friend, or a family acquaintance whose name you still recall. You have interacted with hundreds of people over the years and their names and faces tend to fade. Yet, there is probably that one person who is indelibly imprinted in your mind, a unique individual who had a positive impact on your life; someone who played a key role in shaping you into the person you have become. A person who, in some way, acted as a coach to support your personal growth, point you in the right direction, or help you get back on track when you were heading down the wrong path.
How would your employees respond if you ask each of them if they feel they have a coach at your call center, someone who is there to support their individual growth at your company?
Providing supervisors and managers with the skills to be effective coaches for your call center employees is critical to decreasing employee turnover, increasing employee morale, and exceeding your clients’ expectations for service.
Consider these ideas for improving the coaching skills of your management team:
Give them the tools for the job: In a research study conducted by InTelegy Corporation, ineffective management and processes was one of the most common causes for staff to leave a call center. Employees felt supervisors had no skills and received no training on how to manage people in a call center environment, skills like leadership, motivation, coaching, development, and discipline. To avoid this, hire a specialist in the coaching field who can provide your managers with the skills to be effective coaches. Also, check out classroom, online, or CD training programs that offer this type of instruction.
Understand learning styles: We all learn and absorb information differently. A good coach understands the learning style of the individual they are coaching. If someone is a visual learner, they learn by what they see or read. Auditory learners learn by listening. Kinesthetic learners learn by feeling or experience. We all learn using a combination of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic abilities but one of those styles is generally dominant. An individual will learn and retain more if information is presented in their preferred learning style.
Acknowledge those small improvements: John Wooden was one of the greatest collegiate basketball coaches in history. Wooden kept journals on each of his players. He kept track of the small improvements he felt they could make and then, at the end of practice, he would share these thoughts with each player. His unique insight and his unprecedented achievements – a .806 winning percentage, nineteen conference championships, ten national championships, seven straight national titles, and four unbeaten seasons – have stood the test of time. A good coach works daily to improve the small things that help the team perform at its best.
Know employees’ strengths and weaknesses: Use a personality-profiling tool to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your employees. A personality assessment can be an excellent way to help management identify skills that need improvement and to provide suggestions on coaching.
Keep them in the loop: Employees want to feel like they are part of the team. Ask for their input and ideas on how to improve performance, increase productivity, and decrease costs. Most employees don’t have a clue what it costs your company to process a call. Share the numbers with them; let them know the expenses in running a call center.
A manager with strong coaching abilities can be invaluable in retaining and motivating your employees and helping them develop their skills. Wouldn’t it be great if twenty years from now someone asked your former employees to identify one person who had played a big part in their personal growth and their response was, “There was this coach at a call center…”
David Saxby is President of Measure-X, a training firm specializing in providing training on customer service skills and employee retention. He can be reached at 888-644-5499 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out their website at measure-x.com.
[From Connection Magazine – March 2002]