Having managed many contact centres over the years, I have seen that one of the biggest challenges for managers is coaching their teams to improve performance. It’s a huge investment of both time and energy, but it can also be one of the most rewarding parts of the job for both you and your team member when it pays off and you start to see results.

Coaching your team members is not only a constructive way to help them improve both their skills and performance, but it can also do wonders to lift employee satisfaction and engagement levels, and highly engaged employees tend to have lower levels of absence, stay with your business longer (reducing attrition) and often deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction.

But coaching isn’t just a matter of spending time with your team member. To ensure your coaching sessions deliver results, there are 4 stages that will help to ensure you get the most out of that investment.

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1. Planning

Coaching needs to occur on a regular basis to ensure an improved performance. When determining the frequency of coaching sessions you’ll need to balance the effect you need to make on performance and the impact of taking your team member away from their role. As a minimum, monthly 1-to-1 sessions are recommended to ensure constant focus. If you have a team member with particularly poor performance, then more regular coaching sessions can have a dramatic effect on improving their results.

When planning your sessions, ensure that your team member knows when the meetings will occur, how often, and that they know exactly what metrics they are being evaluated on. This means they can also plan for the meeting by gathering their own thoughts and ideas before the session. Planning also benefits Team Managers as they can manage their time more effectively to ensure they are able to meet their commitments to delivering effective coaching.

2. Preparation

Before your coaching session, ensure you have gathered all the performance data needed for the meeting to ensure you are prepared for your discussion. This will also show your team member that their performance and results are important to you and that you have taken the meeting seriously.

If your team member has a number of areas they need to improve in, it might be better to focus on a couple of the most important metrics at a time. You can’t “eat the elephant whole”, and for your team member it can be extremely demotivating if they are failing to improve in multiple areas.

3. 1-to-1

There are many ways to structure a 1-to-1 coaching session but with all coaching and 1-to-1’s, it’s important that it’s a two way communication process and that your team member contributes at least as much as you do. One effective and easy method to focus on is the GROW model. GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and Way forward.

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The first step is to set a realistic goal with your team member on the metric/s they need to improve, such as improving their customer satisfaction level.

Next is to understand what the current reality is. What is their current level of performance and what are the causes.

We then explore what options there are for improving performance. Is there further training needed? Perhaps they need a side-by-side coaching session to learn how to improve the skill? It’s important in the options stage that you ask your team member for their input on what they think they could do differently to improve.

The last step is the way forward, where you and your team member agree what actions they will take.

While there are many different ways with which to structure your 1-to-1 meeting, it is very important that the process is documented with what was discussed and agreed. Without keeping a record, you won’t be able to follow up in your next meeting. It’s always best to take notes at the time and provide your team member with a copy. This will make the preparation for the next meeting easier for both of you.

4. Follow-up

You’ve taken time to undertake coaching, so it’s vital we see some results. After the 1-to-1 has taken place, follow up with your team member informally to ensure they are taking the steps that were agreed to improve their performance. This can be as simple as a quick 1 minute conversation checking in or sending them a quick email to recognise some improvement you’ve seen, no matter how small.

From there, it’s time to repeat the process for their next coaching session.

Coaching staff to deliver improvements in their performance isn’t just about “doing” a coaching session, it’s a skill and like everything, the more you do it, the better you will become.

Bright has recently introduced a new module to our award winning Bright Navigator solution to help manage all four steps of the coaching process, from planning all the way through to the follow up. The system provides both agents and team managers alike by providing a confidential and collaborative tool to support the process. For centre managers, the solution provides the ability to monitor the regularity and completion of sessions to ensure team managers are delivering on their expectations. The tool is also flexible enough to support all areas of the organisation to manage 1-to-1s, return to work meetings, and other regular meetings where process guidance would be useful.

The example below illustrates how managers can organise coaching meetings, set review targets and empower agents to take control of their own development.

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Michael Lynch
Client Relationship Manager
Bright UK