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Measure the Effectiveness of the Coaching Role
By Susan Hash

If you manage a contact center that tasks supervisors with coaching agent performance, you probably rely on daily interactions between supervisors and agents to move the needle on frontline agent performance. But does it? When you look at sales, productivity, engagement, satisfaction and quality results, what insight do those offer into the effectiveness of coaching relationships and interactions? Are you convinced that you couldn't move the needle even further with better coaching?

If you're not sure, the best place to start is with a systematic approach for establishing standards of coaching performance and evaluating coaching effectiveness, which includes the following steps:

1. Establish what you expect from your coaches. The specifics of coaching programs vary depending on a wide variety of factors, the company's performance management culture, the complexity of the agent job, turnover and the organizational structure. Regardless of what you expect your coaches to do—the range of agent skills they are expected to coach, it's imperative to establish standard coaching processes and standards of coaching performance to enhance consistency and clarify expectations. Without standard, documented expectations, it's likely that each coach approaches his or her coaching responsibilities differently, with varying levels of effectiveness.

2. Require coaches to track and reflect on their coaching activity and results. Your coaches hold formal and informal coaching interactions every day. Measure the quality and quantity of those interactions so you can tie that activity to results.

To evaluate the effectiveness of informal conversations, encourage coaches to self-reflect each week on the nature of their interactions with their team members. Did they take advantage of informal opportunities to praise employees' work this week? How can they find more time in each day to engage in informal coaching conversations? Coaches are always short on time, which makes it even more important to quantify how many emails and informal conversations are taking place, and whether those informal interactions are really being leveraged to effectively communicate expectations, praise and correction. Coaches can add the number of informal coaching conversations and emails to the weekly self-reflection each day. Then, use the weekly coaching self-reflection to help coaches identify opportunities to increase the frequency and effectiveness of informal coaching.

To evaluate formal interactions—scheduled coaching sessions that serve a specific purpose; e.g., to review monthly productivity or QA results—create a standard coaching tracker form to record the date of the coaching, what skills or results were coached, future agreements and how improvement will be measured. Combined with the informal self-reflection, this data will assist you and your team in establishing a yardstick against which to measure the impact of coaching on performance improvement.

How to use this coaching data: Let's say that a manager notices that sales numbers are dropping. Tracking the interactions may reveal: How often are sales results being coached? Is there any information in coaches' self-reflection which indicates that they have insight into the problem? What are the next steps and agreements documented in the formal coaching? Using this data, you're in a position to support your coaches to, in turn, support their staff in meeting their sales numbers.

3. Ask frontline employees to evaluate coaching. Promote an open, collaborative culture, in which employees' perspectives and opinions are solicited and valued. You can leverage questions in your employee satisfaction survey to learn more about how your agents perceive coaching, how involved and invested they feel in the process, and, most important, how open they are to receiving and acting on it. Feedback can also be included as part of the coaching interaction with coaches asking, "Do you feel our coaching interactions are beneficial? How could we work more effectively together?"

4. Observe coaching interactions and provide coaching. While self-reflection is a critical component of coaches' development, observation is the best way to evaluate your coaches' skills. Observation and evaluation provide you with a granular view of the coach's abilities, which allows you to provide granular feedback about everything from body language, tone, word choice and organization.

Just like your frontline quality assurance process is the most immediate and effective method to positively impact agent performance, observing direct coaching activity is the surest route to boosting the skills of your coaches. And, if you've managed to position your QA program so that frontline employees understand that the purpose is to support their development and help them be more successful, then you're equipped to position coaching observation the same way.

Inside View: Memorial Health System

Most of us generally expect to see a strong focus on providing a superior customer experience from companies in industries like consumer products, banking or retail. In the health care industry, however, the customer relationship is much more complicated. Delivering a superior customer experience while navigating the complexities of patient care requires innovative practices. Memorial Health System developed its customer-centric strategy by adapting the best practices of leading service organizations outside of its industry. The hospital has placed a priority on building a culture that makes it easy for the employees to live and breathe customer experience.
Read the full story here. (PDF)


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