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Tagged: employee 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.

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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15 Qualities of a Good Coach in the Workplace

August 26, 2015

Think back to the people in your life who have recognized your potential and used their talents to help you discover and shape your own. When a coach like this is present in the workplace, his or her influence can have a profound impact on the professional development of the entire team as well as the individuals within it. Most people would rather work under a manager who behaves as a coach than one who dictates and directs from above.

Coaching your employees is an important step in developing an internal culture that supports the customer experience. Sometimes coaching can happen “on the fly” when learning opportunities present themselves, but formal coaching sessions provide a great benefit to employees, who get the chance to ask questions, practice skills, and set goals against which they can measure their progress over time.

CSP believes strongly in the power of a good coach, so we’re here to offer you a little coaching ourselves on how to effectively guide the development of your team.

The Measurements of a Good Coach

coach

There is no exact blueprint for a good coach, as each coach will have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, there are some distinct qualities that good coaches have in common.

As you read this list, ask yourself how you measure up against each of these qualities and identify which areas could use more of your attention. If you have been receiving coaching yourself and feel like it could be more effective, this list might give you a window to a constructive conversation with your mentor to improve the relationship.

1. A good coach is self-aware.
To understand oneself, one’s coaching style, and how it is perceived and received by employees, is a critical first step to becoming a valuable and effective coach. Self-awareness is a journey unto itself, so we’ll be writing more about that in the coming weeks.

2. A good coach brings specific and well-defined issues to the attention of others.
Being unspecific about problem areas, or failing to bring them up with the appropriate parties, suggests a reluctance to affect positive change and a lack of leadership.

3. A good coach prepares for each session with information, examples, ideas, etc., and is ready for discussion.
Coaching sessions should be scheduled in advance, and the coach should have a solid agenda for each session that lays out the mission for the day. Without structure, the coaching session can devolve into a casual conversation with no real substance or direction.

4. A good coach treats individuals as partners in the organization, encouraging their input and trusting them to carry out assignments.
Some coaches are fans of “tough love,” while others are more lenient, but what all good coaches have in common is respect for their mentees. Contempt and resentment have no place in an effective coaching relationship, and only breed further conflict.

5. A good coach knows the strengths and weaknesses of his or her employees.
Much like the coach of a sports team, he or she knows how to tap into the individual strengths of employees to get the most out of them and to get the greatest amount of productivity from the team, collectively and individually.

6. A good coach makes expectations clear at the beginning of the coaching session.
Both the coach and the employee must have a sense that this meeting has a distinct purpose, and must agree on what that purpose is, for the session to proceed smoothly.

7. A good coach allows enough time to adequately discuss issues and concerns.
Blocking out enough time for a solid session, rather than squeezing it in and rushing through, shows respect for the employee’s time and allows them to participate more thoughtfully.

8. A good coach seeks out ideas and makes those ideas part of the solution.
Take it as a red flag if a coach is not willing to hear ideas, suggestions, or thoughts from other members of the team. A coach is there to serve the employees, not for the employees to serve his or her ego.

9. A good coach listens to others and tries to understand their points of view.
Rather than assigning blame or delivering unhelpful criticism, he or she allows the employee to explain things from the other side, which can often uncover the root of a misunderstanding or miscommunication.

10. A good coach expresses encouragement and optimism when both easy and difficult issues are discussed.
Sometimes an issue can be the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. It’s the coach’s job to make this issue less intimidating by modeling a constructive attitude that brings the team together to address it.

11. A good coach directly asks for a commitment to solutions that have been agreed upon.
Coaches can’t be wishy-washy about their expectations. If the employee isn’t held accountable for improving, it becomes a waste of everyone’s time to continue coaching.

12. A good coach provides the resources, authority, training and support necessary for others to carry out solutions.
Coaching doesn’t end when the session ends. It is up to the coach to follow through with any additional guidance the employee might need to move forward.

13. A good coach offers support and assistance to those he or she is coaching to help them implement change and achieve desired goals.
Professional development is a team effort. It’s usually not wise to simply cut the employee free after a session and expect him or her to achieve everything on their own.

14. A good coach follows up on coaching sessions in a timely manner.
It’s all too easy for coaching to fall down the priority ladder among all the other demands of a manager’s day-to-day job duties. At the end of each coaching session, it’s a good idea to go ahead and schedule the next one, and to hold to that commitment when the time comes around.

15. When solutions do not turn out as expected, a good coach proactively helps to define alternative actions.
If at first the employee does not succeed, it could be that there was a misunderstanding, or it could be that the original solution was a mismatch for that particular employee. A good coach is open to having a backup plan (or two).

The theme running beneath many of these qualities is this: When coaching is done in the spirit of mutual respect, the rewards and benefits for your employees and your customers are endless. What is important is to establish a positive coaching relationship between the coach and the employees that incorporates all parties’ strengths.

Read more: What are the differences between training and coaching?

More articles like this one can be found in our STARS library, available to current CSP clients as part of our full-service delivery. Contact us to find out how we support effective coaching and training in pursuit of the optimal customer experience.

Know the Differences between Employee Training and Coaching

March 25, 2015

Training and coaching sound like they could refer to the same thing: imparting information that someone else—in this case, your employees—can learn from.

In fact, training and coaching each serve a distinct purpose to your organization and can’t be interchanged. Knowing the differences between the two, and how and when to deploy them, is the key to affecting employee performance and satisfaction.

Training

training
Goals
  • Orient new employees to workplace standards and practices
  • Impart a specific new skill (e.g., using new software)
  • Instruct many employees at once with the same level of information
Setting
  • Often offered as a group lesson or course, sometimes digitally
  • May be a one-time session or a series of sessions
  • Few opportunities for one-on-one attention
Content
  • Standardized lessons delivered to all employees the same way
  • Content may be proprietary, owned by either the company or a third-party vendor brought in for training
Methods
  • Top-down, classroom-style teaching from one or more instructors
  • Worksheets, workbooks, handouts, or required reading
  • Activities, presentations, or projects, individual or grouped
  • May culminate with a test and/or certificate of completion

Training is best suited to new material or with new employees. Its purpose is to introduce a concept or skill and give the employee a basic proficiency with that topic, which they will then take into practice on the job. Training is often a one-time commitment per topic, rather than an ongoing process.

Coaching

coaching
Goals
  • Encourage employee development and improved performance
  • Address specific problem areas with specific employees (vs. a group)
  • Less about “how to” and more about “how well”
Setting
  • Most often occurs one-on-one, though one coach may manage more than one employee
  • Less structured than training; scheduled and delivered as needed
  • ·An ongoing process that follows the employee’s own progress
Content
  • Customized to the employee’s needs and learning curve
  • Hands-on opportunities to learn and practice, sometimes on the job
  • Worksheets and handouts less common, but coach may recommend additional material for continued learning
  • May be tied to employee performance reviews
Methods
  • Bottom-up approach built on the employee’s needs and questions
  • Encourages employee to examine and reflect on his/her own development and take constructive critique
  • Deliberate focus on specific areas of improvement, with benchmarks and goals for measuring progress

While training is skills-oriented, the purpose of coaching is to develop talent. We’ve written before that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all training; coaching allows instructors and employees to identify and address the specific issues that training may have missed. It’s also easier to accommodate different learning styles with a more personalized approach.

Why Training & Coaching Are Essential

Training aims to establish a well-informed, high-performing workforce. Coaching works to maintain it. If employees are recurrently falling below expectations, stagnating in their progress towards their goals, or failing to grasp the skills and talents you’re trying to impart on them, the problem might lie in how they are being trained, and what kind of coaching they are (or aren’t) receiving to reinforce that training.

Together, training and coaching benefit both employees and customers. Solid training and coaching support a smooth, stable working environment and improve morale and overall performance. That trickles down to the customer experience – customers know they can rely on the quality of service they’ll get from anyone they may talk to at the company.

Customer feedback also trickles back up into educational efforts, revealing any problem areas in service that need to be addressed on an institutional level.

That’s why CSP builds in plenty of overlap between the customer research and training/coaching components of our customer experience management programs. A superior experience depends on consistent alignment at every level of the organization. If you could use a fresh perspective on effective employee education, we welcome your questions.

For more information about how CSP supports employee & customer engagement, contact us today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles