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Friday, June 5, 2009

Everyday Coaching, Part II: Situational Coaching

Part of my 5-part series on coaching: Intro, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

Today, in Part II of our Coaching series, we’re going to cover coaching one of your team members who needs to modify their behavior or actions regarding a particular activity. The two essentials for behavior modification are:

1. Feedback
2. Goal setting

Let’s say that all the staff in your office know that world-class customer service is key for repeat business. You’ve taught all your folks that, worked through different scenarios and you are confident they all know how to make customers feel your office is the place they need to be. You’re feeling pretty good about it all.

Then, one day, you walk out of your office and see one of your team providing less than world-class service to Sue, one of your customers. Specifically, Bob was not friendly when she came in and barely acknowledged Sue’s presence.

OK, OK, you’re starting to get a little steamed…no, very steamed because you’ve worked so hard to make every customer feel welcome and a part of your family. But, either:

1. You’re a non-confrontational person who doesn’t like to make people mad (including your staff) so you're going to suppress your anger, fix the problem with your customer, and hope the problem goes away.


2. You want to flame Bob, because the customer’s always right and you won’t stand for this.

Neither of these choices is great. Doing nothing is not an option and if you kill one of your team, you get the chair.

First things first…you get the facts from Sue (at least her perception). Great, you know how she’s feeling and you’ve made it all better with her and now you need to ensure Bob gets the feedback he sorely deserves.

The thing is, Bob’s a great guy. He works hard and tries his best, but he’s somewhat moody. If he’s not paying attention, he can give customers the wrong impression. So what do you do?

1. Talk to Bob, and soon, so you can identify the issue (the sooner the better after an “incident” because Bob will likely remember the events better).
2. Let him know your perception of the incident and issue (“Bob, I observed what appearded to be a kind of “Eeyore” mood earlier today”); then get Bob’s perception (he has one…maybe he didn't know there was a problem or maybe has a reason, like his kid is sick or there are money issues or there's something else that is affecting Bob’s mood). The best way to get the facts is to see all sides.
3. Provide your coaching suggestions based on the training that you and the staff have all done (“Bob, we all need to have situational awareness…how we’re feeling and how we need to treat our customers, regardless of how our day is going.”). Provide encouragement that you know Bob can overcome the issue.

Are you all done? Well, you could just pray and hope for the best. However, coaching is a process and you can’t usually fix an issue with just one interaction. So...

Next steps:
1. You need to observe Bob (and you’ve let him know this during your initial session…that you’ll be observing)
2. Give him feedback – immediately – when he exhibits the performance you coached him on or when he misses the mark (“Bob, that customer was putty in your hands…Way to go!” OR “Bob, there still seems to be an issue with being moody. Tell me about what just happened”).
3. Get back together and discuss. Provide your perception about how Bob’s doing and let him share how he thinks things are going, too.
4. Repeat steps 1-3, above, as necessary, until you're satisfied everything's under control.

Tomorrow, Part III: Ongoing Coaching.

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