Employee morale is the pulse of a company. They are your frontline (pun intended). A company’s health and vitality can be seen and heard through the attitude, job satisfaction and confidence that an employee has when they are in the right position to represent the company and move forward in their careers. I bet if asked, you could tell about the last time you interacted with someone who really embraced the work they were doing. You can feel it when someone is empowered, proud of the work they do and confident that they are doing something important that is needed. As a company it is the ideal headspace, we want our employees to enjoy their work, and it all starts with training and coaching.
Coaching versus training
Since training at its core is the action of teaching a person a particular skill or type of behavior, training starts from the moment a person applies to work at your company. Some training is conscious and other training is provided through subtleties without realizing you are training. For example, when an employee applies to work at your company, is your company culture and expectations clear and represented in the questions asked during the interview? Do your communications reflect the actual level of value that you have for your employees or do they feel like a number pulled to fill a vacant slot? Clear expectations, modeling the desired behaviors or approach, and implementing easy to understand and follow processes, are the foundation for quality training.
Coaching, while similar to training and sometimes included in the training bucket, really is standalone from our perspective. If your business were a theatre, training would be the play script, stage, and props and coaching would be the director. We want employees to excel in the roles they were trained for and coaching is understanding the employee including quirks, traits, and strengths, as a person. The employees and the company will constantly change and evolve. This means understanding the role the employee performs and figuring out how to bring those pieces together to create the best performance possible is important, along with having the patience to continually run through this process. Moments in time like what we are experiencing with this pandemic make this cycle a critically important process to your business.
Here at Frontline Call Center, we provide both Tech Support and Customer Care. There are many genres of business supported under these two categories. Our approach to training, regardless of the type of support or the company supported, starts with this approach.
Who – Who are we supporting or what is the brand we are supporting? What services or products are offered and where? Who are the people we work within the company and why? Who are the end-users we are supporting demographic wise?
Why – Why is the company outsourcing to us? Why do they want or need our support?
What – What exactly are we supporting? What do we need to touch systems wise to support the company? What access is needed to make the processes as seamless as possible? What can we do to provide paths for known scenarios while addressing how to handle or find information on the unknown scenarios?
How – How are we providing the needed support for the company? Knowing the “what” from above, what training methods make the most sense for presenting training to the employees for this type of support? Regardless of the type of training delivery, it needs to account for different learning styles (visual learning is the most critical to stay engaged), the demographic of the employees being trained, and accommodating those who learn faster or slower.
- Instructor-led training
- Training video’s
- In software system practice
- Data sheets review on products or services
- Knowledge testing
Training is clearly defined but we often see where coaching is muddy waters when it comes to intentions. The mindset behind coaching is really important because coaching with the intention of punishing through a write-up or warning is not real coaching. That is pointing out an error and then saying, “Hey, fix it this way or else”. As a company, we experienced this firsthand when an employee almost gave notice because we invited them to coaching. Further talking revealed that coaching to the company they were at previously; meant you were getting fired in short order. We have several other employees who worked for this same large retailer and in talking with them the same view was present. This led to us making it clear in the orientation that coaching is for growth reasons, not discipline, and would happen regularly. Coaching to improve and grow an employee is taking the time to understand how the employee made the decision to do what was done and then from that level of understanding, walking them through how to do it differently. Coaching can also include grooming for growth into a new position.
Regardless of why we are coaching an employee, as a company we encourage the following keys to be followed.
- Know why you are coaching. What is the desired end result?
- Listen, understand, and make sure they are empowered to perform. No one likes to be set up for failure.
- Document, document, and document some more. What caused the need for coaching? What was learned through the listening and understanding portion of the coaching? How was the employee coached? What is the expectation of the employee moving forward? Be clear and be specific!
Differentiating employee coaching from employee discipline helps mitigate the fear of learning or fear of trying something new. To grow as a person and employee, we humans need to be curious and open to processing information. That is hard to do when you have performance anxiety or fear of being let go.
By documenting the training and the coaching done with an employee, you have a written record of what was done. This written record is important from several angles. For example:
- It protects the company. It validates that training on compliances was done.
- It provides credentials.
- It can be used for performance reviews or for evaluating fit for career advancement or placement.
All of these are valid reasons to document the training and coaching but the most important is that it gives a standard against which to hold an employee accountable. Not only does it hold the employee accountable, but it can also help hold the person or company doing the training and coaching accountable to notice when the training or coaching has been taken to heart and is being followed. That is how we know that what we are doing is effective and working in building the confidence of the employee to feel supported and empowered, boosting morale.
Visit the Frontline Group blog regularly for helpful tips on improving your company and taking the next steps into the digital world with CX or Application development.