There is no question that managers wield a powerful sword. In fact, 75% of voluntary turnover is attributed to poor employee-manager relationships. (You read that right: Three out of every four people who voluntarily leave a company do so because of poor management.)
So how can call center managers—and, by extension, their companies—avoid the same fate? If so much of an employees’ ability to thrive at work depends on good management, then managers must be empowered to make a difference as more than just taskmasters. They need to be taught how to coach their employees for success.
The following are three ways managers can integrate coaching into the call center.
1. Develop an Inside-Out Mindset
Most call center managers use an outside-in approach to training in which the manager tells the employee exactly what to do. This kind of training is sometimes given to employees in a “get-it-done” tone, without allowing any room for interpretation in their approach.
While there are some scenarios in a call center where employees should simply “follow the script,” there are also times when employees will need to propose a beneficial goal that goes beyond adhering to policy. To foster this kind of employee growth, managers should ask questions that help their team members make their own decisions. This will help employees recognize their own ability to achieve the goal which both they and their managers have.
For instance, managers may tell employees the exact script to follow when a customer has a complaint about a specific service they’re experiencing, but suppose the employee has a goal to help new agents onboard? Managers can ask questions to help an employee come to an effective decision about what to do without having to be told. Effective questions explore and clarify the goal, the circumstances around achieving the goal, and their options and plan for success.
2. Establish a Companywide Coaching Mentality, System and Even Vocabulary
Consistency is key when it comes to implementing any new program at work, and coaching is no exception. Managers and employees should educate themselves around a specific coaching terminology, coaching mentality and coaching-based review systems.
For instance, at InsideOut Development, we propose three key questions that every manager should ask their employee during reviews to stay unbiased and consistent.
- First, did you do what you said you were going to do?
- Second, what were the results?
- Third, how did you get there—was it in a positive way?
By streamlining a simple set of review questions in this way, managers and employees can be confident that they are all speaking the same language and working toward the same goals. Everybody wins when managers can help align employee goals with company goals and evaluate employees more fairly, consistently and effectively.
3. Understand That All Conversations Can Be “Coaching Conversations”
Once your company has established a coaching paradigm, managers can engage in “coaching conversations” more easily, allowing for more coaching and ongoing, companywide improvement. These coaching conversations will be intentional, consistent, based on an employee-manager partnership, and will lead to elevated performance.
Managers can prepare themselves for these conversations by following these steps:
- Believe in the employee’s potential. Every employee will respond better to someone who believes in them and their abilities.
- Act as a mirror. Observe your employee. What are their body language, words and emotions telling you about their situation? Talk with them about what you have observed and see if you can find solutions together.
- Create a context of possibility. Whatever challenge or goal you discuss with employees, help them to see the possibility of accomplishing it. Otherwise, employees will be tempted to give up before they’ve begun.
- Get clear about responsibilities. We’ve all heard the saying that, if you take apart the word “assume,” it makes something unpleasant out of “u” and “me.” Don’t assume employees understand their objective; set crystal clear responsibilities so no one is caught off guard later on.
- Create a safe environment. Failure is an inevitable part of work and of life. Create a safe space for employees to be vulnerable and make mistakes. That way, when failure does happen, it’s quickly learned from and rarely repeated.
- Become comfortable with uncertainty. Whenever possible, allow your employees to take risks and test new ideas in a safe environment. Did they come up with a solution? This type of empowerment builds trust between employees and managers and self-confidence in your employees that is imperative to success.
Doing something as simple as adopting a common coaching system really can improve the bottom line. In fact, we worked with the call center for a major U.S. credit card company to implement a new “inside-out” coaching strategy, and the company saw a 32% improvement in employee engagement in just three years across its team of 980 people.
When done properly, coaching can be so much more powerful than stringent performance evaluations, employee task-tracking tools and even mentorship. Coaching is how you empower, and empowered employees will be the spark for companywide success and growth.