Part Five “digs deeper” into the skills of giving feedback during the coaching session. The combined goal of parts four and five of this series is to equip the coach with tools that make the process of coaching comfortable and make the coach confident, competent and consistent.
It sometimes surprises us, again and again, how different each team member can be. Giving feedback would be simple if every staff member agreed with us and how we heard the call! It would be even simpler if every staff member was eager to get the feedback and act on it with speed and enthusiasm. But staff members are anything but alike and each one has their own “Personal Approach Need” just as do we when we are on the end of receiving feedback from someone.
Have you ever reacted to feedback? Sure you have! “Who does she think she is to tell me that?” or, “How rude of her to just lay that on me!” or, “Why doesn’t he just tell me what he wants and stop beating around the bush?” Getting a staff member to respond instead of react often has everything to do with how they receive the information from us.
Personal Approach Needs (P.A.N.) are real and operate naturally without our conscious awareness most of the time. Here are three categories of P.A.N. that are easy to see and prepare for as the coach:
- Down and Dirty … This staff member hates it when you beat around the bush. Don’t use the ‘sandwich’ approach of “compliment, criticize, and then compliment again”. For them that’s a setup and they smell it ten cubicles away! They want to know what you know, how to do it better and they are ready to hear it, so, say it! It doesn’t mean we forego all tact and sensibility. It simply means we get down to business.
- Be Gentle … This staff member loves the ‘sandwich’ approach, in fact, for this staff member, build a Dagwood sandwich! The way for a “Be Gentle” to hear and respond to feedback is to first get affirmation of all they do right and then hear how to do even more things right!
- Why is this important – Help me Understand … This staff member appears resistant to feedback, and initially, they are. If something doesn’t make sense, doesn’t feel right, isn’t logical, or simply doesn’t connect with them as important, they challenge you. Where some will challenge you defiantly, most will simply appear to be non-compliant until they “get it”. The real power behind this staff member however is when they do indeed “get it”. At that moment they become your biggest supporter and turn from resistant to role model.
These three P.A.N. are the most prevalent on any team. You may think I’ve missed a category, the staff member who won’t comply and disagrees with your assessments and instructions. If you have someone who refuses to develop their skills or come into standard with the team, you are not dealing with a coaching issue at all but a management performance issue. Instead of more training or more coaching, it’s time to counsel privately in your office and maybe even issue a warning and create a performance plan.
As an added tool for delivering coaching feedback, it’s time to combine this understanding of the various needs we have on how we like to be approached with vocabulary tips for the coach and then – it’s time to coach!
Here’s a straightforward piece of advice for giving feedback that applies to everyone of any and all Personal Approach Needs: If the feedback is positive, personalize it. If the feedback is negative, depersonalize it. Simple.
Report the Positive in Personal Terms – Notice how in each of the statements below the positive feedback is directly attributable to the person who did something right.
“You really responded very well to her using just the right amount of tonal and verbal empathy for the situation.”
“You really nailed all four parts of the Hold Technique. That meets our standard perfectly, and the caller was impressed.”
Report the Negative in Impersonal Terms – Notice how in each of the statements below the negative feedback is depersonalized so the focus is on what to do differently and not on the failure of the person who did something wrong.
“At one point in the call, the caller was frustrated. Adding empathy would probably have helped her calm down. It’s as simple as adding it to the words and phrases as you talk with the caller.”
“The Hold Technique has four steps, and steps two and three were missing when the caller was put on hold.”
In a nutshell, if it’s good, YOU did it. If it’s bad, “IT” needs to be fixed and here’s a suggestion to fix “IT”.
Combining personal approach needs with effective vocabulary, your staff will quickly discover that you are there to applaud, help, encourage and develop their skills and not to simply cheer or jeer.
You are now ready to hit the floor, sit at the elbow and develop your staff! Our next article will talk about how to keep all the coaches in your center calibrated so that your call center is a consistent and well-oiled operation of talented people!
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