The four Cs of coaching skillsNancy Friedmancustomer service, coaching employees, boosting performance When most people think of the word "coach," they immediately imagine someone on the sidelines screaming at their players to do a better job. That may be true in certain sports situations, but in business, a coach must use a completely different approach in order to help employees improve performance. Let's have a look at the role of a manager/coach and how that integrates with employee development. Where does traditional training come in? How does training relate to coaching? And what are the differences between training, coaching and counseling? The process starts with training. That's the first step. Let's say you're training a group. What usually happens is that most of the group understands, learns and benefits from the information you've presented. Unfortunately, however, not everyone "gets it." What do we do about that small percentage of employees often good, conscientious people who may need personalized attention after training? Those are the ones who need coaching. Remember, coaches strategically guide their team members toward improving performance. They analyze feedback to determine the areas where the training hasn't taken hold. Is remedial training needed? That's where the coaching comes in. These are the people who need one-on-one customized help to develop their skills. Now that we've talked about training and coaching, where does counseling come in? Counseling helps people explore, and possibly resolve, personal problems. Counseling is utilized if, for whatever reason, the employee isn't performing. It's for that special situation when training and coaching haven't worked, where the employee is not willing, or is unable, to do the job especially if there is some distraction that is not job related. We're going to give you the Telephone Doctor Four-Step Model for effective coaching in a call center or business environment. We call it the 4 Cs of Coaching, and they are as follows: Concurrence Concurrence is critical. Unless you and the trainee agree that there is a gap, and they commit to the improvement that is needed, you won't be able to coach to your full capacity. You and the employee must concur that there is an issue. Once that's done, we can move on to the next issue. Content Identify the content that needs to be improved. What needs to be done? What are some of the issues involved? Normally, coaching is needed because the employee doesn't know how to do the job (they just don't "get it") or doesn't want to do the job. You need to find out which explanation it is. The coach and the employee need to agree on the content, issue and problem. Only then can they make a commitment to solve it. Commitment It is important for the coach and the trainee to agree. Then they can make a commitment to solve the problem. Normally, we're working with an intelligent, conscientious employee who wants to do a good job. With some coaching, the job will be done right. Congratulations or Continuation Once you and the employee have found the content that needs to be corrected, you've given them the instruction on how to do it right and there is a committment that it will be done, it's time for congratulations. Let them know they've done a good job. It is critical that you don't leave this part out. The worst case scenario is continuation. A little more work may be needed with some employees to reach the congratulations step. Much coaching takes place to fill a perceived need. You find out that there's a gap in the performance of an employee and then plan a coaching approach that should improve the employee's performance. Formulate your plan and decide when you're going to do your coaching. Coaching, while immediate, should also occur in private, especially when it becomes on-the-spot coaching. Never embarrass the employee. That's not coaching, that's being mean! Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training in St. Louis, Mo. and was a featured speaker at the NAMB 2004 Annual Convention and Exposition in Salt Lake City. For more information, call (314) 291-1012 or visit www.telephonedoctor.com.