During my visits with various contact centers, the word coaching is often used in conversations with management. However, it isn’t always clear what coaching actually means.
A good operational definition of coaching is:
Taking the time to develop a persons skills by teaching, communicating, and measuring their success
To begin applying any definition of coaching, you have to approach it with discipline and have an appreciation for the value it brings to your employees and the company. That said, you must make the time to prepare for coaching, set aside time for regularly scheduled coaching sessions, and develop ways to track individual performance improvements.
On the surface, this sounds simple, but in the dynamic, real-time environment of a contact center, this can prove to be a daunting endeavor. And, if you’re like most contact center leaders, your plate is already full, so any new addition will come at the expense of an existing activity.
The key? It starts with an investment commitment
Whether you are an experienced coach and simply looking for new ways to improve, or in the beginning stages of establishing a formal program, you have to be honest with yourself, your company and your employees with regard to the amount of time you’ll actually have to dedicate to coaching.
If you have 10 direct reports and are spending less than 10 hours of every week on coaching activities, you’re not investing the time needed to do it effectively and in ways that will provide real returns for your organization.
There are several reasons why people say they can’t dedicate 10 hours every week to coaching, and some are very creative, but in many cases, the reason they can’t spend time coaching is simply because they haven’t become accustomed to doing so.
And, when you’re not successful, you end up spending a lot more time explaining why you’re not successful, thus taking time away from the activity that makes you successful - growing your people through coaching. Applied to the real time contact center world when the metrics aren’t there, we spend a lot of time trying to fix the metrics at the expense of spending time with agents. Thus begins a cycle that is hard to break.
Get the buy-in from senior management for a coaching program and the time that is needed. A professional basketball coach needs his front office to back him up; the same applies in the contact center. This is no simple task, and it starts with looking to your own team of peers, getting them all on board and spending some time together talking about different approaches to coaching, the benefits of spending time with the frontline, the potential return on the time investment and the impact on the enterprise’s bottom line, and what things would need to change to make more time for coaching.
You’ll most likely find that just about every leader could make time for coaching if there were fewer administrative type activities and what you’ll also find is that if these activities were pooled (similar to the what you do with the inbound contact center workload), tremendous efficiencies could be gained.
Next, turn your attention to the other results, and document all of the wins for the company by moving the administrative tasks from leaders and providing them with time to develop their teams.
Starting a contact center coaching progam starts with investment. It’s as simple as that.
Stay tuned the second and third installments in this series for more coaching tips.