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Stop The Cookie Cutter Coaching

Published: April 16, 2013 | By: Melissa Kovacevic

A Quality Manager once told me, “We seem to focus on activity, not results” and unfortunately he spoke the truth.

When working with Quality teams, I ask them to explain their tools and processes in place for coaching:  who coaches, how often monitoring and coaching is done, their quality goals, etc.

Some Quality Managers are setting an exact number of coaching sessions for each agent every month supported by an exact number of calls, emails, interactions monitored for each agent every month.  I’m not talking “minimum” numbers.  They hold analysts to a specific number each and every month per rep.

If a manager is focused more on achieving this exact number of coaching sessions and monitorings to complete, then it follows that their supervisors and quality analysts who are coaching also become more focused on completing that process and number goal instead of what is actually resulting from those activities.

You may have observed the last minute rush by some analysts and supervisors to get their coaching or monitoring quota reached before month end.  These coaches are moving people in and out of coaching meetings like a factory production line in operation. When I observe the fast coaches, their sessions are what I like to call a “cookie cutter” process. The same things are said to the same agents, over and over again.

The cookie cutter coaches have little enthusiasm for what they are doing and simply churn out pieces or paper or online documentation stating “coaching completed”.  No surprise that the results aren’t stellar when this happens.

Coaches need to understand that people learn differently and coach to that understanding.  Some pick up skills quickly, others need repetition to build the skill through practice.

Neil Fleming’s VARK learning styles theory ( deals with learning differences in great detail. VARK stands for Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic.

VARK Learning Styles are generally described as:

  • Visual: Learn by viewing charts/graphs/pictures
  • Aural:  Learn by hearing information presented
  • Read/Write:  Learn by reading or writing information
  • Kinsesthetic: Learn by experience, doing activities

We may not have the time or resources to test everyone for their VARK learning style, but we can make sure our coaches are using a mix of learning styles to see what is most effective for each agent.

  • For Visual: Posted Skill Stickie note, goals posted at cubicle, graphs or charts
  • For Aural:  They listen to you handle calls, listen to their own calls
  • For Read/Write: Ask them to write down skill reminders for themselves, write list of phrases for them to practice,  offer e-learning modules
  • For Kinesthetic: Role play together, side by side call observation with coach

Make coaching personal and appealing to the way your agents learn and you’ll see greater success in skills improvement and retention of those skills.


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