Coaching is so much more than sitting in a room and discussing skills with our agents. If a manager looks at coaching as a boring checklist item to be completed weekly or monthly, the agent will approach it the same way. Your view of coaching affects you, your customers and each member of your team.
A good coach has to live by the skills and behaviors they are teaching their team members. Our agents are observing us as we interact with both internal and external customers. If we are “telling” them what to say and do and aren’t demonstrating these same things in our daily communications, we will have a hard time convincing them that we are 100% engaged in our efforts to improve.
It’s hard to speak positively and demonstrate a good attitude all of the time of course, but that is the challenge we leaders and coaches will always face. We are going to have those days where internal and external customers make us crazy. There will be personality conflicts to deal with and customers who ask for unreasonable things. Even when that little voice inside our head is saying negative things, we need to make sure that we take a deep breath and consider how our staff will perceive our actions and comments.
With this challenge for staying positive also comes the need to not appear as a 24/7 smiling phony robot either. But overly emotional coaches and managers will lose the respect of their teams either way. Keeping our cool, admitting there are challenges or issues that can be upsetting while still keeping factual during difficult interactions are skills that are key to our success.
Here are some specific ways you can be a great example for your agents and get a read on the tone of your center:
1.Walk The Talk: How are you talking about other department heads or employees that you deal with at your company when you discuss issues with your team? If you are constantly complaining about other areas of the business in front of your agents, you are encouraging them to do the same. Just walk around your center and listen to what they are saying to each other.
2. Live What You Coach: When you get off that challenging call or receive a nasty email from a customer, are you mumbling and gesturing about how stupid that person was or instead, evaluating how well you handled or should have handled so you can share the example in your next coaching session or training meeting?
3. Coaching Them But Ignoring Your Own Skills: Are your emails curt, full of grammatical errors or vague sounding? How can your agents be coached on email skills quality if you aren’t checking your own emails before hitting send? Let reps know what you are working on too.
4. Set The Center Tone: What is your attitude especially your body language saying when you walk through your center? If you are coaching agents to be positive and good team players, your “I’m irritated” facial expressions aren’t providing them with a good role model for their own interactions today.
5. Open Door: Do you tell them your door is always open and then shut down any new ideas they may want to share? Being closed to new ways of doing the same old things is sending a bad message to your employees. Even if the idea won’t work, show appreciation for them wanting to improve the customer and employee experience. Ask them to continue to make suggestions. Make the open door policy a reality instead of a nice slogan on paper.
6. One To One Time: Are you spending time with each agent individually, demonstrating good listening skills and empathy towards them? You want them to be respectful listeners and show understanding with your customers, so be sure you are practicing these skills as well. Giving agents one-to-one time to ask you questions, learn and make suggestions is important since building overall knowledge and confidence come from these skills and activities. Coaching is more than a corporate program!
7. Ask For Feedback On Your Skills: Ask each rep how you can be a better coach and leader. You are giving them feedback in coaching and should welcome the same from them, even some of the tough things to hear. Ask how, what and why questions to truly understand what is needed to take your coaching and leadership skills to the next level.
Coaching by example means being aware of your own tone, body language, communication skills and willingness to dedicate the time needed for both you and your team to be successful.