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1 performance matters / jun 2013 How to Develop a Coach the Coach Program Practical guidelines for planning and developing a more structured coach the coach program. By Rebecca Gibson, Interactive Intelligence Pipeline Articles

2 Rebecca Gibson Interactive Intelligence I frequently have the opportunity to speak with Interactive Intelligence customers and consulting clients about the indispensable role of coaching in driving high employee performance. It doesn t take much convincing to persuade anyone that better coaching yields higher performance. In a previous column ( Who s Coaching the Coaches? Pipeline, August 2012), I shared a broad overview of the importance of a structured approach to improving contact center coaches performance and implementing a coach the coach program. This prompted inquiries from readers who had specific questions and concerns about the details of implementing this type of program. These practical guidelines are intended to provide that practical advice, so if you re ready to implement a more structured coach the coach program, use these steps as a roadmap to focus your planning: 1. Clarify your company culture and work environment. You re probably eager to get started deciding how many coaching sessions to observe and how to communicate your coach the coach program to your team. First, take stock of your company s culture since your coaching program whether you are coaching coaches or any other employee should mirror the larger culture. Answer the following questions to get started: What is the overall performance culture at your organization? Is it high-touch and personal or more along the lines of, No news is good news; we ll let you know if you do something wrong? Do you screen and hire for the required job skills or do you expect to train and mentor less experienced employees to attain full proficiency? Your approach to coaching and how you develop your coaches should support your performance culture. Is now the best time to implement a new set of performance requirements or a new method of measuring employee performance? Consider your work environment, including recent organizational changes, to determine if it s the right time. For example, if you ve recently had layoffs and your coaches and employees are overwhelmed with their workloads and fearful of keeping their jobs, you may prompt even more uncertainty and fear by implementing a new evaluation method. Now, write a paragraph that describes your culture and work environment and consider how you can use it to guide the details of the program. Here s an example: The culture at Company X relies on innovation to remain competitive, and the work environment is fast-paced and collaborative. As a result, we need every aspect of our business be relentlessly focused on collaborative employee and team innovation, and we know we can t slow down for hierarchical, manager-driven employee development. While the management team provides some structure around employee coaching, we expect every employee to take responsibility for their own skill and career development and to participate in the ongoing development of their direct reports, their team members and peers, and even their managers. 2. Define coaching measurements. After you ve identified how your company culture and work environment will influence your coach the coach program, define how you ll know if your program is successful. Use the categories of measurement below to define at least one measurement in each category that reflects your company culture, your work environment and the goals of your coach the coach program. This provides you with a yardstick to measure the: (a) quantity of coaching activity; (b) whether coaches are meeting coaching standards; and (c) if coaching is having a measurable impact on employee performance. 2

3 3. Define the Coach the Coach Program process. In this step, you ll describe the process that will support your goals and align with your coaching culture. Of course, you ll include a description of your coaching culture and the coach the coach program measurements you ve created, along with a clear description of the overall coach the coach process. Here s an example: Each contact center coach maintains his/her own coaching plan that outlines his/her strengths and weaknesses. Each month, the manager observes two coaching conversations and provides immediate feedback, using the completed coaching scorecard as a guide. Throughout the month, the coach self-evaluates against the coaching scorecard and his/her coaching plan. Once a month, the coach meets with his/her manager to review the results of the manager observations and the self-assessment, track overall progress and set goals. Make sure that you include a description of how the coach the coach results will be used. Will you add the results of your assessment to the coaches incentive plan or scorecard, or to their annual or quarterly review? What if you find a coach isn t meeting the minimum expectations? If you find a coach isn t improving to meet minimum requirements, could that result in a performance action plan or even termination? Examples include: Completion of coaching activities accounts for a portion of a supervisor s overall scorecard. A supervisor who does not meet the minimum required coaching evaluation score is placed on probation until the score improves. Supervisors are evaluated based on their team s performance results. 4. Create a Coaching Scorecard It s not enough to simply observe coaching conversations and provide feedback. It s important to have a set of specific, observable coaching criteria that can be used to clarify what you expect from your coaches and for coaching evaluation. If you aren t sure how to start creating your coaching scorecard, see Who s Coaching the Coaches? (Pipeline, August 2012) for an example you can adapt to your own purposes, or search the Internet for coaching models. Measurement Category (a) Coaching Activity reveals the amount of time that is spent on coachingrelated activities. w # of coaching meetings w Time spent coaching (b) Coaching Performance reflects the extent to which coaches meet predefined coaching standards. w Scorecard evaluation against standard criteria w Self-evaluation w Agent evaluations w Employee satisfaction survey (C) Results indicate if coaching is having an impact on employee performance or contact center/corporate goals. w Evaluate employee performance in critical areas Sample Goal w Meet with each employee twice per month to review quality results. w Track coaching conversations and agreements to ensure progress. w Meet minimum coaching expectations during each observation. w Identify areas for improvement and improvement strategy. Track progress toward goals. w Achieve 90% agent satisfaction with coaching and development initiatives. w Compliance requirements achieved in 97% of evaluated calls. w Reduce callbacks by 10%. w Improve performance of bottom 15%. w Reduce employee turnover. 3

4 Coaches can use the scorecard as a job aid to guide their coaching interactions in the right direction and managers can use it to ensure that coaching is evaluated against a standardized set of criteria. Communicate the Intent of Your Coach the Coach Program Focus on providing a positive, clear message to the contact center: Since coaching is such an important part of the contact center s ability to meet our goals, we are implementing an exciting new program to help our supervisors become even better coaches. The program will consist of self-evaluation and manager evaluation, as well as coaching observations and agent input. Don t be surprised if your manager s manager attends your next coaching session don t worry, they are there just to observe and provide your manager with feedback. You ll also have the opportunity to provide feedback about the coaching approaches that work best for you. Our employees knowledge and skills are our competitive advantage and we are committed to providing you with the support and tools you need to be successful. That s what the coach the coach program is all about. 5. Implement your Coach the Coach Program. Your program and measurements are defined and you re ready to go! Just a few more steps to get you started. First, use or the company intranet to communicate the program to the entire contact center (see the sidebar). Talk to your coaches as a group and individually to share your vision of the coach the coach program and to set positive expectations. Make sure that your message is clear: The program is about providing support to help your good coaches become even more effective at this critical activity. Your primary goal at the outset of your program is to make sure that it s a positive, low-risk experience for all stakeholders. One way to do this is to allow coaches to select the coaching interactions to be observed for the first few months. Sure, they may choose the easiest coaching conversations, but that s OK. Give it a few months so that everyone can get comfortable with the process and have positive experiences before taking a more objective approach. A Critical Component: Observation Now is the time for the manager to observe a coach/employee coaching conversation in order to gather information for the manager/coach coaching conversation. I recommend that the manager observe two coaching conversations with two separate agents each month and provide feedback immediately afterward using the coaching scorecard as a guide. It s important that each of the three participants roles are clearly defined and everyone knows what to expect: Agent: The role of the agent is to engage as normal in the coaching session. The agent should know ahead of time that a manager will be attending his/her coaching session and have the chance to ask any questions. Then, at the beginning of the coaching session, reiterate the purpose of the manager s presence. Coach: The coach should plan the coaching session as normal and also feel free to bring along any job aids (e.g., coaching scorecard or list of desired coaching behaviors to the coaching session). The most important thing is to relax and engage in a natural discussion. The employee will take cues from coach if the coach is relaxed and natural, then the employee will know to relax, too. Manager: Once the coaching conversation has been opened and the purpose of the observation and what will happen has been reviewed, the manager simply observes the coaching conversation silently and notes his or her observations. As much as you can, don t participate or add to the discussion. If the coach or the employee tries to draw you in, reiterate the purpose of the coaching session and your role as a nonparticipant. At the conclusion of the coaching conversations, the manger and the coach thank the employee and then remain in the room for the manager to provide immediate feedback to the coach. While the manager may wish to have time to document a more formal assessment, it is best to give immediate verbal feedback when the conversation is fresh in everyone s mind. Use the coaching scorecard to review the results and discuss observations and trends in coaching conversations, preparation and employee input. Then, meet monthly to incorporate manager observations, coach self-evaluation, employee evaluation, and performance results into the overall assessment of coach performance and effectiveness. As you can see here, it takes time and energy to plan, implement and maintain a coach 4

5 the coach program. But if you believe that improved coaching results in improved employee performance, then it s difficult to argue that this isn t a worthwhile or even an essential investment. Good luck! And, as always, I d love to hear your questions or comments at Rebecca Gibson is a Strategic Consultant with Interactive Intelligence. (317) About Contact Center Pipeline Contact Center Pipeline is a monthly instructional journal focused on driving business success through effective contact center direction and decisions. Each issue contains informative articles, case studies, best practices, research and coverage of trends that impact the customer experience. Our writers and contributors are well-known industry experts with a unique understanding of how to optimize resources and maximize the value the organization provides to its customers. To learn more, visit: Online Resource This issue is available online at: ContactCenterPipeline.com Pipeline Publishing Group, Inc. PO Box 3467, Annapolis, MD (443)

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