CSP Happenings





Tagged: coaching

Managers Should Encourage Employee Feedback

August 31, 2017

Managers and directors do a lot of talking, and rightly so. Their career experience puts them in positions where they provide instruction to their staff, lead employee evaluations and create strategic visions for the future of their companies. Despite their need to lead through direction, great managers listen carefully to their employees. They utilize feedback from staff to drive progress, and trust the judgment of their staff to make smart decisions.

coaching

To leverage the knowledge junior staff hold, managers must create an environment

where two-way communication is encouraged. Most office environments try to create a culture of open communication, but the difficulties of any business (personality clashes, revenue struggles, etc.) can damage those lines of communication. When employees feel their career progress may be at risk, due to a stubborn superior or concerns about layoffs, they put their heads down and work hard, rather than offering constructive criticism of the company. They want to appear as team players, and keep ideas to themselves out of

fear of appearing dissident or negative. This breakdown in communication misses an abundance of opportunity and ideas, which would otherwise make the company more efficient and profitable:

Blind Spots

Often, managers can’t be as detail-oriented in their work as junior staff members. Individuals with highly-specified roles know certain business processes inside and out. In turn, if there is an inefficiency or problem with those processes, junior staff tend to know about it (and usually complain about it to each other) first. Managers need to make sure those complaints are brought to their attention, and ensure that opportunities to improve reach their desks. Otherwise, those issues go unchanged and leave junior staff frustrated.

Office Morale

Companies that communicate poorly often see a “communication divide” arise between staff and management. Typically, management is happy with the company direction and sees a positive financial outlook, while the rest of the staff feel overworked and negated from the profitability their hard work achieves. This animosity creates a toxic culture, divided between staff and management, and management can sometimes be oblivious to those issues if staff only vocalize their dissatisfaction to each other. Mangers need to make sure their staff feels safe in expressing grievances when they arise.

Innovation

The biggest folly of arrogance managers can make is assuming that good ideas must come from the top. Some of the most successful companies designate time for employees to pursue long-term, innovative projects that will create new revenue channels or huge efficiencies for the company. A good starting point for managers to create a culture of innovation is to regularly remind employees that new ideas are encouraged and welcomed. The sheer number of junior staff members (compared to managers), combined with the specificity of their work (detail-oriented) creates a major opportunity for innovation managers can’t afford to forego.

Occupation-Specific Trials and Tribulations

Depending on their roles within the company, different employees experience different perks and hardships. A call center representative may struggle with difficult customers, while a data analyst may long for more social interaction. Each job role is different, and managers need to understand the intricacies of the different job roles. When they understand the pros and cons of working within a specific department/role, they understand how to communicate with the department and comprehend what’s top-of-mind for those employees when they think about progress and goals.

Individualized Coaching

Above all else, employee feedback is the greatest coaching tool a manager can have. Understanding an individual’s perspective helps the manager tailor their coaching, address the employee’s concerns and create a better sense of camaraderie. If an employee doesn’t voice their opinions, training and coaching may feel irrelevant and the manager’s goals won’t gain the same respect as goals that are mutually created between employee and manager. Individuals are complex, and good managers appreciate that an employee is also a whole person with unique needs. In a sense, two-way communication can be a self-serving endeavor for the savvy manager: taking the veil away from what their employees are thinking streamlines a manager’s work and helps them address the root of their employees’ needs in the most efficient way possible.

Good Coaches Should Inform, Not Condescend

August 24, 2017

Managers and directors must be good coaches. The very nature of managing a staff team requires those in charge to make individuals within the team more skilled, smarter, and happier due to career satisfaction. Unfortunately, some managers fail to handle teaching moments with grace and sensitivity, and leave their employees feeling like a failed performer, rather than a valuable member of the team.

The reality is that high performers often rise to positions of management, and these same individuals sometimes lack the soft skills necessary to be a good coach. In a sense, they need to be coached on how to be a good coach. Coaching is a difficult skill that requires a sense of compassion, awareness, critical thinking and creativity. Simply put, a good coach should build employees up, rather than breaking them down. Here are some approaches managers should keep in mind when coaching opportunities arise:

Solution-Oriented Discussions

Every good discussion between management and staff should focus on a common goal that is desirable for both parties. Establishing a common desire and end goal helps align thinking and shifts the conversation in a way that is collaborative for the employee. This collaboration empowers employees to feel like partners in their own success, as well as the company’s. 

Inviting Employee Feedback

By creating a collaborative environment, managers create opportunities for employees to share experiences and opinions the managers might not otherwise see. Often, employees feel forced to tell white lies out of fear of sounding like they have bad attitudes. When there are legitimate issues with business processes or approaches, employees are often afraid to point them out due to fear of appearing to make excuses. When this happens, management misses out on key learning moments that might be holding the company back. It’s incredibly important for employees to feel comfortable expressing dissatisfaction with certain processes in place so that managers hear about blind spots they might not independently identify.

Specific Actions Instead of Vague Ideas

A good coach should always focus on specific actions employees can take to improve. Without clear directions, employees leave constructive feedback meetings with anxiety and agitation, rather than clarity and purpose. The more specific a manager can be, the more likely the employee will change behavior and feel confident in her/his actions.

A Pathway to Success, Rather Than Repercussions for Failure

When employees receive criticism, their big-picture concerns come to mind very quickly. They worry about job security, finances and the stability of their homes. Managers need to diffuse this sentiment by explaining how constructive feedback sets employees up for long term success. Instead of being concernedabout job security, employees should have confidence that their job security will be enhanced by coaching sessions. They should feel they can bring more value to the company and become a better, more important employee as a result.

Measurable, Small and Meaningful Goals Set by Coaches

Once employees feel comfortable and have specific actions they can take to improve, there should be a plan of action for them to gradually improve. Giving employees small, modest goals makes those improvements achievable and gives them something realistic to work toward. Coaches should explain how these small improvements are valuable, and follow up with praise when employees show concrete improvement.

When working with employees, managers should always give staff members the benefit of the doubt. People almost unanimously show up to work with the intention of performing well, and managers need to maintain this mindset, rather than doubting their team members. Business is highly personal, and points of constructive criticism are most effective when framed in the context of helping, rather than hurting, employees. Managers who do this well see low turnover, high performance and company culture that is built on a solid foundation of trust.

Transforming your business’s perception of customer experience

August 15, 2017

If you’re a business executive, director or manager, you know customer experience should belong at the center of your daily activities. However, many organizations focus more on their operations, products and internal work environment than on their customers. How can businesses improve? Creating lasting structural change within an organization isn’t easy. However, executives can encourage their companies to transition toward customer-centricity by focusing on customer experience. Here are four major transitions in mindset and attitude executives can encourage:

As highlighted in this Forbes article, many companies are structured around products instead of customers. This is a symptom of a company being too self-involved to take a step back and understand its customers. When a business focuses too much on itself, it looks at the products it provides, how they can be improved and what new products they can bring to the table. Conversely, a customer-centric business understands who it serves, what their needs are and how the business can delight these individuals. Businesses must switch to customer-centric thinking by letting customers define their business, constantly soliciting feedback and putting their experiences at the forefront of the business.

Business helper to business differentiator

In financial services, most providers think they are relationship-focused above all else. However, according to the Bank Administration Institute, consumers rarely think of financial service providers as being relationship-focused. The reality is that the various responsibilities business face (marketing, sales, project administration, IT, etc.), while important, have the capacity to distract from the central goal of a business to make its customers happy. Businesses must move from a model that likes strong relationships with customers to a model that prioritizes strong customer relationships above all else.

Nice-to-have to must-have

Many businesses fail to regularly solicit feedback from customers. More commonly, businesses solicit feedback, but fail to analyze or act appropriately on their customers’ requests. Businesses tend to prioritize daily operations and revenue goals above trainings and meetings regarding customer experience because the day-to-day items feel more urgent. However, this designation of what is important is based on the perspective of the business professional, rather than the customer. Back-of-the-house work helps the business itself function, but does little to contribute to customer satisfaction. If a company’s priorities stay out-of-whack for too long, hundreds or thousands of customers are left with an underwhelming or mediocre perception of the company due to faltering customer experience. This underwhelming experience risks losing customers, and makes the brand’s/company’s value rely solely on the products it offers, which is a hugely risky strategy, as products are constantly changing and innovating among competitors. Making customers excited about the brands they do business with is a must-have.

General effort to specific behaviors

Almost all business care about customer experience, but they don’t know how to improve. Here is a typical, and poor, format for acting on customer feedback: Negative customer feedback comes in through dissatisfied customers reaching out to management, management calls together a meeting to highlight the issue and demand improvement, and employees make efforts to improve, masking over the underlying causes of poor customer experience for long enough that the issue slips from everyone’s mind. Sound familiar? This failed effort happens due to lack of ongoing coaching and training. The reality is that customer experience relies on a practiced set of behaviors and actions. CSP strives to utilize Voice of the Customer research to guide ongoing coaching sessions and training sessions with management. Meaningful change only comes when it is practiced regularly and when positive customer experience behaviors become engrained through repetition and training.

Are you coaching your employees across these three categories?

July 18, 2017

 

Coaching employees is an essential step in creating a positive work culture. Happy employees need opportunities for continuous improvement and a chance to thrive in their roles. Strong customer experience relies on good coaching and training, and managers themselves must work on improving their own skills as a good coach to ensure the success of their work environments.

In a productive work environment, managers find coaching opportunities in day-to-day interactions, looking for teachable moments to help employees improve the way they work. In addition, periodic reviews and one-on-one sessions create an important two-way dialogue between managers and employees to help create a mutually developed plan for improvement.

However, quarterly reviews and pats on the back aren’t enough to make lasting business improvements. Managers need to consider the category of feedback they give, and if they are coaching the holistic employee. An employee may be great in meetings with clients, but struggle internally to keep their work organized. A different employee may have incredible technical skills, but come off as abrasive during when interacting with colleagues. Coaching needs to cover different categories, and hitting these different categories of employee performance helps create a more complete business professional. Business professionals benefit from comprehensive coaching feedback and, consequently, continue to develop as high performers.

Technical

Often, technical learning falls on the side of training, rather than coaching. Employees work in a group setting to learn the skills needed to do their jobs well. Despite this, managers can help coach the overall learning experience. Good coaches should help their employees self-reflect by asking them what skills they excel at, which the struggle with and how the manager and employee can work together to create a work environment where everyone feels successful. Managers give perspective to technical learning by explaining its importance to the employee and placing it in the context of the business. Moreover, managers help point employees in the right direction of help and support to improve technical skills. If an employee wants more assistance, managers either have an opportunity to give instruction or find someone within the company who can provide the most useful instruction.

Interpersonal

Employees need guidance on interpersonal skills, and this category is particularly important for coaching since it receives such little formal training. Mangers have years of experience and have worked with hundreds of professionals, so they tend to be able to identify an employee’s interpersonal strengths and weaknesses. When an employee’s interpersonal skills are strong, their ideas and contributions tend to shine because they know how to present their ideas in a digestible, constructive manner. When a manager coaches interpersonal skills across an organization, the business environment thrives and office cohesion results in great customer satisfaction.

Organizational

Great product/service delivery relies on planning, revision, adjustment and time for contemplation. When an employee has time to do all of this, he or she can deliver the best work possible. The only way to have enough time for these different activities is through organizational skills. Great work requires advanced planning and building in time for unexpected requests. Unfortunately, organizational skills tend to be under-coached. Managers try not to micromanage their employees and want to show flexibility by acknowledging that individuals have their own methods of working. However, managers have career experience, and are required, by the managerial nature of the job title, to be highly organized. Coaches should give employees enough independence that they feel respected, but also offer suggestions for getting work done in a more efficient, organized way. Advice on how to organize calendars, block out individual days and stay abreast with many simultaneous tasks/projects is invaluable information for less-experienced employees.

Next time you consider the way you coach employees, think about the different topics you cover in your coaching sessions. How comprehensive is your coaching? Are you only covering specific technical skills in your coaching style, or are you cultivating the entire employee? Great service delivery requires great professionals, and professionals can’t be great unless they continuously improve a diverse set of technical, interpersonal and organizational skills. By evaluating their own coaching approaches, managers can accelerate the learning process for their employees and turn junior staff members into multi-talented professionals who will innovate and drive business.

Want better employee performance? Use benchmarks.

June 27, 2017

What should a manager do when an employee’s performance falls short? Consider the following scenario: An employee isn’t reaching his personal performance requirements. Maybe his sales are low, his ability to open new accounts is subpar or he receives weaker customer satisfaction scores than his colleagues. During a performance review, the employee is informed of his low performance, and feels pressure to improve. He worries about his job security and thinks if he simply tries harder, he’ll achieve better results. However, two weeks later, his willpower is drained and he resorts to the same ineffective behaviors.

In this scenario, the employee gets lost in a cloud of ambiguity and stress. Employees want to perform well, and when they don’t, managers need to treat the moment as an opportunity to teach, rather than to scold. Benchmarking makes this teaching moment possible.

Benchmarking is the process companies use to identify and establish key performance standards, or benchmarks, and measure their performance against those standards over time. These standards are usually achieved by quantifying performance based on customer feedback scores. Coaching employees to achieve benchmarks is highly effective for a few reasons:

Non-accusatory feedback

When a manager discusses poor performance with an employee, the conversation feels highly personal. However, the ability to look at a benchmarking score as an external performance metric helps things feel less personal, and shifts the conversation in a positive way. Rather than the manager telling the employee he’s underperforming, the manager speaks in terms of improving customer relationships through specific behaviors. The result of a non-personal conversation leaves the employee feeling supported, rather than attacked.

Clarity

Benchmarking helps managers give specific feedback and learn about their employee’s personality traits. Different personality types yield different performance strengths and weaknesses. For example, an extroverted, persuasive personality may do well to promote add-on purchases, but rub certain customers the wrong way by being too abrasive. Conversely, a perceptive and introverted personality may do well at highly analytical tasks for high-maintenance customers. Benchmarking illustrates performance strengths and weaknesses in clear terms the manager and employee can look at together. Additionally, this process gives an opportunity to talk about the employee’s highest scores. The manager learns about the behaviors which achieve stand-out scores, and the behaviors are taught across the company as a best practice.

Tangible goals

Benchmarking is done using scales, such as a numeric 1-10 scale. Seemingly small differences, like a customer giving a “7” versus an “8” in overall experience, have major implications in terms of the loyalty of the customer and the customer’s likelihood to recommend the brand to others. Therefore, employees should be encouraged with realistic and specific targets. When an employee is told he isn’t doing well enough, he might feel discouraged. A good manager offers specific strategies to employ, and encourages the individual to see if he can improve his score marginally over the next three months, maybe from a score of 7.5 to 7.8. Presented in this context, the goal feels realistic and achievable, easing the anxiety of the employee and inspiring hope that the strategies recommended by the manager will work.

Good managers should always consider the emotional impact of the feedback they give their employees, make sure their feedback is precise and give the employee a clearly defined path to success. CSP’s Manager Development and Training uses Voice of the Customer data to coach managers and employees on the specific behaviors that improve key drivers of both employees’ engagement and customers’ satisfaction.

Deconstructing Company Culture: Q&A with CSP’s Brittni Redding

December 20, 2016

Meet Brittni Redding, CSP's Director of Client Education.

Meet Brittni Redding, CSP’s Director of Client Education.

With her background in both financial services and managerial/professional development, Brittni Redding was a natural fit to join CSP in 2016. As our Director of Client Education, Brittni has been instrumental in developing and supporting CSP’s Manager Development and Training solutions.

Brittni’s hands-on role with our clients, and her previous experience in a variety of training and coaching capacities, give her a unique edge. She’s keenly tuned in to what makes managers and their employees gel – and what doesn’t. Rather than keep her behind the scenes, we’ve invited her to share some of her insights as a facilitator and educator on all things company culture, here on this blog. 

How have businesses’ (and specifically, banks’) expectations of their managers and internal leaders changed?

In banking, there are typically clear measurements for what is being accomplished — e.g., loan and deposit volume, services per household, or the controversial cross-sell.  We’ve all worked with the “top performer” who rocks at results but leaves a trail of dead bodies in their wake to get there.  This sends the message that the organization accepts, even condones, a “win at all costs” mentality, which in turn affects culture and climate.

Most organizations are learning that beyond bottom line results, it’s important for Managers and Leaders to be held accountable for how they are getting there.  They should ask themselves: Am I inspiring my team to deliver exceptional customer experiences, or are they encouraged to chase a score?  Do I utilize customer feedback as a development tool to ignite coaching conversations, or is it a punitive measure? 

In your observation, does the topic of company culture get as much attention as it should?

Company culture is always a hot topic, but it’s hard to move beyond the rhetoric to action.  So much of it is founded in “unspoken rules” that developed over a significant amount of time.  Changing those requires a long, uphill battle of resetting expectations, maintaining consistency (even behind the scenes) and establishing buy-in from the top down.  To succeed nowadays, organizations must be prepared to act not only on the measurable performance of people and processes, but on cultural misalignment. 

I bring this into focus for CSP’s clients by helping them develop a unique “service climate” at the branch or department level.  Managers play a key role in fostering a service climate geared toward service through consistent communication, coaching, peer to peer feedback, and best practice sharing. That service climate is then owned at the employee level, based on their perception of what behavior is expected, supported and rewarded. 

What is the role of managers in facilitating changes and making training stick?

Front line managers are the most critical players in holding employees accountable for training concepts – but that training must also be aligned with organizational goals. I once facilitated a training session for a group of contact center representatives, on the topic of recommending additional products and services.  I employed all the adult learning must-haves: interactivity, robust discussion, activities, handouts, job applicability, what’s in it for them – everything!  During a call listening session after the training, I desperately waited to hear the reps utilizing concepts from the class…but it didn’t happen. 

Why? The front line managers’ objectives weren’t actually about customer relationship expansion at all, but reducing hold times through effective and efficient service.  I had missed the critical step of communicating with the most important link to employee accountability – the managers.  Now, before considering learning and development objectives, I like to run pilots or special manager sessions to make sure we are on the same page.  The combination of alignment and post-training accountability is a must-have for any change to stick.

Is there a common theme, idea, or truth about manager development that you think companies tend to miss or undervalue?

Too often, managers tend to focus on identifying and improving employees’ weaknesses, rather than investing in their talents.  What they don’t realize is that they can achieve the same desired outcomes (or better) with a positive, strength-based approach rather than the more conventional weakness-eliminating model. My belief in this mentality is what led me to become a certified Strengths Coach through Gallup.

Empower your employees to play to their strengths and affect the company culture.

Your company culture should empower your employees to play to their strengths.

This is something that has played out for me personally.  Discipline, execution, and all the dirty details have never come naturally to me, whether at work or after hours. I had a personal goal to get healthy and work out more, but none of the strict master plans putting me at the gym or on the treadmill seemed to stick. Meanwhile, what I am good at is the big picture view, coming up with ideas, and collaborating with others.  My friend encouraged me to join a tennis team, which incorporated more of how I’m naturally inclinedand that worked! I continue to do that for exercise to this day.  I’m accomplishing the same outcome of exercise but doing it in a way that I enjoy and that comes more naturally to me. 

Now apply this logic to a coaching scenario:  when faced with Bankers and Tellers who are more analytical than socially driven, some managers might try to correct this “weakness” and get these employees to be bubblier.  But a strength-based approach would have them instead apply their eye for detail to drive customer service – going into more detail about products, following up meticulously, etc. 


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4 Strategies for Encouraging Cross-Departmental Collaboration

August 16, 2016

Cross-departmental collaboration is a reflection of a healthy internal culture. When employees feel comfortable working together, communicate effectively, and understand each other’s roles and functions within the system, your customer feels the difference.

common obstacles to cross-departmental collaboration and how to avoid them
What gets in the way of cross-departmental collaboration? 
Obstacle 1 – Tunnel Vision

When employees get too limited by the tunnel vision of their own job descriptions and team functions, frustration often ensues. This is often the root of communication breakdowns and interpersonal conflict. For example, an employee might make an unreasonable request from another team, assuming it was a simple request when it actually created a huge hassle.

Solution

Cross-train. Offer employees frequent opportunities to step into each other’s shoes, job-shadow each other, or train each other. The idea is not to make everyone essentially interchangeable, but to give employees a basic understanding of how each department functions, individually and as part of the bigger picture. This is especially important for regular processes that touch multiple departments.

Obstacle 2 – Ineffective Meetings
Employees would rather watch paint dry than attend ineffective meetings.

According to the same poll, 8% of employees would choose a root canal.

One poll found that 17 percent of employees would rather watch paint dry than attend a meeting. Ouch. Face-to-face time is essential to healthy collaboration – or at the very least, being on the same conference line or web conference. But meetings have a tendency to clog up calendars, disrupt the workday, go off-topic or off-schedule, or otherwise not accomplish their objectives.

Solution

Meet more mindfully. Before you schedule a meeting, think hard about how to make the most of that time. Meetings should have designated leaders, note-takers, and time-watchers. An agenda, prepared and provided in advance, can keep everyone on track. And there should be a plan in place to follow up on the meeting’s objectives and action steps before they are forgotten. Be mindful of scheduling, too – make sure employees have a chance between sessions to make meaningful progress. 

Obstacle 3 – Social Silos

Consciously or unconsciously, each department can wind up so isolated from the others that it’s effectively in its own silo. Its members only interact among themselves and rarely cross over to other territories. The result is a series of micro-cultures that aren’t always compatible. Much like the tunnel vision that prevents employees from understanding each other’s jobs, social silos prevent employees from understanding each other, period.

Solutions

Celebrate together. Create opportunities for employees to socialize with each other, during and after office hours. For example, you might consider a casual gathering on the final Friday of each month, and rotate the duty of “hosting” this gathering between departments or teams. You can use these opportunities to highlight positive progress and accomplishments from various teams – but unlike meetings, these gatherings don’t need a strict agenda.

Uniting around a common goal is one of the best ways to break down silo walls. So another way to get groups to mix up or interact could be to introduce a goal or project that isn’t directly related to work functions. Examples include: a charitable drive, a company 5K team, annual outings, regular “Happy Hours,” or some friendly competition like a costume contest around Halloween. All of these can break the ice and help employees see each other as people, not just co-workers.

Obstacle 4 – Top-Down Direction
cross-departmental collaboration can't happen without the right leadership

Cross-departmental collaboration can’t happen unless managers lead by example.

Direction and leadership are not the same. Cross-departmental collaboration requires buy-in from all involved, including and especially the designated leaders of any given group. Otherwise, the entire effort feels inauthentic. Managers, after all, are just as susceptible to social siloes and tunnel vision as their staff.

The other side of this coin is whether or not employees feel they have a voice in how their departments are run, and in how departments interact. If they don’t feel they have an opportunity to raise an issue, ask a question, or be proactive, there’s little motivation to simply follow orders.

Solutions

This one is twofold. First, department heads should be modeling cross-departmental collaboration by regularly and visibly engaging with each other – and with each other’s teams. If they notice that their department is becoming too isolated or is hesitant to collaborate with others, these leaders should be the first to start building bridges, and not just directing others to do so. Second, you need a mechanism in place to effectively collect employee feedback, in a way that makes employees feel safe from any negative consequences for speaking up. CSP highly recommends a Voice of the Employee program to gather this kind of data.

 

Your culture is the result of your actions and your priorities. Cross-departmental collaboration is not the kind of thing that can be enforced upon your staff. It must be nurtured at all levels of the organization, with deliberate intention, even when other priorities seem more immediately urgent.


More reading on this topic:

Employee Training: All at Once, or One at a Time? It Depends

July 13, 2016

Employee training is pulling away from the model of slideshows in a dark conference room with stale bagels. Because attention spans and time are both in short supply, training must cut to the core issues and deliver worthwhile solutions – or in other words, you need to know what you’re doing and do it well.

Companies, on average, do not allocate much of their budgets to employee training – a little more than $1,200 and about 30 hours per employee each year. Instead of seeing this as a cost, treat it as an investment.  So, do you diversify your investment by plugging into individuals? Or do you put all your eggs in one basket by focusing on full enterprise training?

graph-963016_640Data instantly pinpoints weak links.

If you’re not sure where to start, look at the stats. Using comprehensive data, like the extensive reports provided by CSP, you can develop or choose beneficial team training programs. The data highlights the areas of concern, be it employee performance or customer satisfaction, and zooms in on detailed aspects with matching metrics.

Now you know not to spend time on teaching key phrases and language, for example, but improving listening and critical thinking abilities. More importantly, you’ll know if you need to address the entire team or pull someone aside for one-on-one coaching.

Team training moves everyone forward, together.

When employees are overlooked or employee training isn’t properly implemented, companies can experience dizzying unrest: high turnover rates, lack of engagement, dissatisfaction with other co-workers, low confidence and company pride, among other roadblocks.

Team training can open a dialogue between departments as well as junior and senior employees, thus developing a relationship more personable in nature. Ideal scenarios for team learning can include the following:

  • employee training for all or for oneNew material or technology
  • Changes in leadership
  • Continued education
  • Need to challenge complacency
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Fuel for employee loyalty

Team training sets a tone for the company. All of the gears and levers are oiled in a cohesive tune-up. But what happens when one little wheel keeps sticking?

Invest in the individual to see both a return and a contribution to the greater good of the team.

Think of a group fitness class compared to a personal training session. Unless the class is made of cloned robots, no two participants are wired the same. If one person is constantly falling behind the group, that gap is likely to grow each class unless there’s an intervention.

In a one-on-one setting, a personal trainer can take the time to check positioning and mobility, reintroduce basics that perhaps a client missed, and ultimately launch a game plan for the future.

As essential as training is for this person, so is following up with them and establishing an accountability system. Regular check-ins and feedback from the client are crucial for effective future training efforts. It’s up to the employer to recognize changes, improving the weak links and maximizing talent. The return on your investment could propel the entire team forward.

 

It’s unrealistic to know what each employee is doing or not doing well, and the impact of that performance on the team, without some guidance from statistics. Use data to outline a strategy that effectively combines both team and solo training. Customization based on your company’s needs will keep costs down and training, simplified.  

You may also enjoy these articles on employee coaching and training:

Get more from your employee training efforts.

CSP’s customizable Employee Training program provides expert guidance, supports accountability, and promotes transparent communication. Contact us online or call John Berigan to learn more – (402) 399-8790 ext:101.

3 Steps to Coaching Employees Using Performance Reports

June 15, 2016

Customers often base their opinion of a company on their service experience, so you want yours to be top-notch. Proper training helps employees achieve customer service goals, which in turn provides motivation to continue doing well and to keep improving.

As you embark on coaching your employees to make your customer service experience even better, you want the training to be as effective as possible. The three-step approach below can help, combined with using employee performance reports that can guide you in knowing where to start the conversation, and what to address first.

To set up your employee performance training as a roadmap for success and help your employees achieve optimal performance, follow these steps during your coaching sessions:

1. Prioritize issues.

Avoid piling up a laundry list of all areas for improvement at once. Rather, start with the top issue that will help your employee improve customer experience the most.

manager development trainingEmployee performance reports can be used to analyze information that is customized to each employee. CSP provides several such reports. One that is useful in helping to identify priorities is the CSP Evaluation Summary report. This report can uncover patterns with its performance and satisfaction scores, and can quickly point out trends in an employee’s performance.

The Performance Criteria Scores by
Employee report presents all criteria questions for all employees at once. It can be filtered by employee and date, and can show if the coaching is leading to an improvement in scores.

Or use the Performance Issues report to see all criteria scores and which ones are scoring the lowest. Are your employees consistently introducing themselves to your customers? Are they using the customer’s name? This report breaks down each behavior with percentages to give you an easy-to-read chart that also can be explored in-depth if needed.

Focusing on one issue at a time helps you hone in on a single aspect of performance that you can come back to in the future, as part of an overall evaluation of your employees’ responsibilities and expectations.

2. Investigate causes.

Is coaching and training the appropriate response to an employee’s performance? To find this out, analyze the performance areas that are below expectation. Determining the root cause for low performance will help you establish next steps with your employee.

Once you have used the Performance Issues report to identify the area needing improvement, identify the cause for it. Is the performance problem due to awareness, resources, ability, or effort?

Use the chart below to review the actions most appropriate to each root cause:

Root Cause Action
Lack of awareness Re-communicate expectations and priorities
Lack of resources Help the employee secure the needed resources
Lack of ability Coach and train the employee to improve their knowledge and skills
Lack of effort Motivate or take disciplinary action
3. Give constructive feedback.

Your analysis using the CSP reports will not only have revealed opportunities for improvement, but also areas of strength. Use these reports to guide you in the feedback you provide to your employees. Positive feedback strengthens performance and motivates employees to continue providing good customer service or improve upon past performance. Keep these tips in mind when providing feedback:

  • Feedback should be balanced, touching on both strengths and weaknesses.
  • People learn differently so find a variety of resources to help each employee meet his or her individual goals.
  • To get the most value, both positive and constructive feedback should not be a one-time conversation, but an ongoing discussion.

Following these steps and incorporating reports such as those offered by CSP will allow you to continue increasing employee engagement. Help take your team to the next level when you take advantage of these tools and watch your employee performance soar.


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How Manager Development & Training Benefits Your Business

May 4, 2016

Professional development is an ongoing responsibility shared by both employees and their employers. However, managers and human resources personnel are often tied up in handling the paperwork of employment – hiring, firing, benefits, and grievances – leaving little bandwidth to focus on developing employees’ resources, talents, and career journeys.

Most businesses conduct some kind of periodic employee performance review, but miss the opportunities and advantages of structured follow-up and support. “Crisis” cases may get the attention they need, but middling and high-achieving employees can be left without a clear path forward to continued improvement.

Here’s the truth: Continued employee development can’t fall off the priority list.

manager development trainingThis is true for employees at all levels of the company, and especially relevant for managers. Managers are the cornerstones of a company’s internal culture. Their behavior, attitude, and ability to lead and nurture their team are directly correlated with employee satisfaction and engagement, which in turn influences the customer experience.

Off-the-shelf training materials and one-time leadership seminars are appetizers at best. Unfortunately, they won’t fill you up, and the effects tend not to last once employees are immersed back in their day-to-day duties. There may be a temporary boost in morale, productivity, and performance, but without continued support and attention, it won’t be long before they slip back into their comfort zones until it’s time for their next review.

Manager development is manager empowerment.  

In order for managers to effectively lead, coach, and nurture their employees, they must be nurtured themselves. You wouldn’t expect someone who lives on fast food and soft drinks to suddenly get up and compete in the Tour de France. Likewise, without proper “nutrition,” managers lack the supportive structure to deliver their best performance.

manager development trainingCoaching and training are not just about learning and sharpening skills, they’re about empowering staff to excel in each and every position, to collaborate effectively as a team, and to effect positive change in the workplace.

Empowered managers and employees:

  • feel valued by their employers
  • enjoy coming to work each day
  • are genuinely invested in the success of the company
  • resist the distractions of workplace conflict and politicking
  • are unlikely to look for other jobs, and
  • regularly engage in proactive, positive behavior.

These attributes ripple out to all areas of job performance. Even customers will feel the effects: customer interactions tend to go more smoothly, and issues get resolved more easily, when employees feel empowered to take action.

Development starts with data.

Collecting and evaluating data is essential to measuring progress and determining the effectiveness of a development initiative. It’s the first step of CSP’s Manager Development Training solution, forming a baseline from which to move forward with a targeted coaching program.

manager development trainingData also allows CSP to customize each program to each business. Every customer service climate will differ, even between separate locations of the same business. Within those climates, customer expectations and needs will also vary, and thus the key drivers of satisfaction and success along with them. CSP uses each business’s data to illuminate what those key drivers are, and tailor the Manager Development Training program to empower managers and employees to have the optimal effect on those attributes.

Consistency creates accountability.

What these customized programs share in common is a consistent structure of ongoing support. Not only does CSP create a path forward toward organizational improvement, your team also benefits from our years of experience guiding companies through times of change. Obviously, we want the effects of this training to stick, so change management techniques are reinforced from the top down throughout the training process.

As the program takes shape, we supply materials, conduct workshops, and regularly check in to evaluate progress. This consistent, committed approach to development is critical. It’s unlikely that managers will slip back into their old ways when there are measures in place to hold them accountable. Without those measures, there’s always the risk that other priorities, responsibilities, deadlines and duties will wind up distracting their attention from their job performance. That’s why leadership books and seminars so often fade from memory before companies can see the benefits.

There’s also something to be said for third-party objectivity when it comes to in-house matters. Managers commonly fall victim to a type of tunnel vision when they can’t see beyond the walls of their own office. CSP has seen it all, and we capitalize on that 30,000-foot view of organizational management to help each business navigate its own journey forward.

To learn more about Manager Development & Training, contact CSP’s John Berigan by email or by calling 800.841.7954, ext. 101.

 

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