Coaching manager a must in a call centre

Have you ever asked yourself why elite sports people and teams have coaches when they are champions and consistently successful? It is because they always want to ensure that they keep being the "best of the best" and on top of their game.

Given the robust and demanding nature of the call centre environment, coaching is performed at the very last minute, if at all. It is performed for the sake of being performed rather than to serve its purpose of being an avenue through which employees, especially sales people, become high-performing and execute their responsibilities in a consistent manner.

For members of a call centre management team, coaching should be a manager's number one priority. If managers do not coach their teams consistently at the expense of allowing non value-adding tasks to take priority, team members will ultimately question how serious and committed their managers are to the task of bringing the very best out of them and suddenly team results, employee satisfaction and morale will plummet dramatically.

There are two types of coaches. Reactive coaches are managers who spend very little time coaching. The time that is allocated to coaching is generally spent on the poor performers of the team when their performance has been below standard for a prolonged period of time. On the flip side, proactive coaches are managers who will allocate and schedule time to coach all of their team members, irrespective of performance levels. By doing this, the proactive coach encourages strong performers to continue in this vein and guards against poorer performers slipping to standards so low that they are beyond help.

Coaching will allow a manager of a call centre operation to:

Build and enhance relationships with employees, especially the sales people. In high-performing call centres where sales people are on the phones for the majority of the day talking to customers and making sales, it is difficult for managers to develop and maintain relationships with them. Therefore regular coaching allows managers to build and enhance relationships with sales people to the point where managers are able to understand how sales people are feeling, what they think and what their strengths and development opportunities are. 

Learn from their people at the same time as their people are learning from them. Coaching is a two-way learning street. It is an ideal means by which managers can develop their own knowledge of products, systems and customers to appropriate levels and as a result be closer to the business and ultimately understand it a lot better. All employees value and look forward to the opportunity of "teaching" their manager a thing or two and will respect the fact that their manager is willing and can develop knowledge through the team.

Discuss the sales executives' progress against agreed action plans and key performance indicators. Once aspects of employee development have been identified through coaching, it is essential that managers and employees agree on measurable and realistic improvement targets and action plans that need to be achieved before future coaching sessions.

Motivate sales people. Sales people are mainly driven by success and the ability to earn an uncapped amount of money. The coaching that managers undertake supports sales people in' achieving their work value propositions thus making the manager highly valued and respected, while at the same time making sales people motivated.

Unfortunately, even with the clear value-added characteristic of coaching as mentioned above, most organisations that conduct any form of call-centre activity do not have established coaching frameworks for managers to operate within, making it easy for managers to conduct little or no coaching at all. This places organisations at risk and leaves employees unsupported.

Coaching frameworks for managers don't need to be cumbersome or labour-intensive. Having these frameworks does not mean the call centre is promoting robotic behaviour that impedes the effectiveness or autonomy of managers. Rather, the frameworks are a road map for managers to ensure that coaching is performed on a regular basis within predetermined and effective standards and processes.

Author: Mark Manolas


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