I love working with new coaches and helping them to become the best they can be. Most are very excited about coaching with agents and welcome the opportunity to apply their experience in a new role in the center. Many coaches are supervisors or leads who now coach regularly in addition to their other center duties.
Some coaches have shared their fear of coaching with me during our sessions. Here are some of their greatest fears:
1. The reps will hate me
Who doesn’t want to be loved? We all have a need to feel that people love to work with us, learn from us and that they respect our knowledge.
Unfortunately not every agent is gung-ho about being coached and some clearly express this in their words or actions. This may be directly to the coach or via grumblings among their team members.
The problem is when we start to believe that our coaching is intrusive and put out our own negative vibes that agents can pick up on. The agents may not hate you but they will learn to hate coaching itself if you sound like you do.
Another thing that affects their attitude is when our coaching is done in a negative way. Telling instead of asking them for input. Beginning by listing all the failed skills instead of starting off with the good things they do with customers.
Your approach can make them dread coaching instead of seeing the opportunity to improve.
2. I don’t have time
No one in leadership or coaching can avoid those last minute meetings or fighting that customer emergency fire that just popped up. Anyone who is coaching has to learn the art of balancing priorities within the times allotted each day. I find that most coaches struggling with coaching time haven’t looked at ways to break the coaching down into easier to do timeframes.
Having a one-to-one sit down requires far more time than a phone chat to say “great job on that last call” or an email with kudos for a job well done. Spending time together with an agent to practice skills is key but definitely requires time to bring results.
We will fail to do coaching activities regularly and timely if we don’t schedule them on our daily calendar. We should also work these activities into our schedules when time opportunities open up.
We may not always be able to follow our planned coaching schedule that day but what is important is that we do what we CAN do and make sure that what we didn’t get to today is on our schedule for tomorrow.
3. I’m afraid to demo calls and make a mistake
This is a common fear that many newer coaches share with me. They feel the need to be perfect on every call, every chat, and every email instead of showing the agent that they are still learning too and may make an error at times.
This need for perfection will often drive a coaches coaching style too. They become so rigid about the coaching process that it becomes like a factory of identical coaching sessions being turned out instead of personalized interactions with each agent.
Make the role-playing and demo calls with customers fun. Sit side-by-side, talk about your own skills and theirs before and after each call. Even if you aren’t in the phone queue anymore or navigating through screens with ease since you aren’t working with them as much, don’t let that stop you from demonstrating the soft skills that are so necessary for our customer interactions.
Be open to letting the agent show you some things they’ve learned. Create a learning opportunity for both of you.
4. I used to be a rep with them
Hopefully everyone in coaching and leadership has at one time been a rep and worked their way up through the center in a variety of roles. Internal promotion is a great thing for centers to have in place.
Sometimes the need to be “buddies” with former agent co-workers gets in the way of being an honest coach. I’ve seen some supervisors spend more time in the coaching session talking about work gossip and weekend events with their former co-worker agents rather than time spent on how to wow the customers.
Newer supervisors shared that they were nervous and unsure of how to deliver bad skill news to a “friend” that they sat next to and had lunch with every day last year. Coaching skills and their discussion should always revolve around what is best for the customer. We need to avoid sounding like they should “do” it this way because I say it’s right and instead help them see skills from the customer’s expectations. What does the customer want versus what does the coach want!
…If you have new coaches on your center team, be sure to have a talk with them about their coaching fears. Let them know you understand and want to support them. Only by voicing their concerns and looking at ways to overcome them will they become the best coach.