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Wednesday, 07 November 2012

Coaching for Performance - Steps for Effective Job Coaching

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Coaching for Performance | Steps for Effective Job Coaching"My responsibility is leadership, and the minute I get negative, that is going to have an influence on my team". - Don Shula

Webster defines coaching as; "to instruct, direct, or prompt". After reading that, I started to wonder how most people who are coached on the sales floor would define it. Coaching; "The time of the day when my manager tells me everything I did wrong or forgot to do". That is not coaching for performance -- that's intimidation.

I have worked in and been around retail stores, call centers, return centers, and customer service in general, for over 20 years. I am always amazed at what some managers/leaders think coaching is. My company actually does coaching for performance seminars. In fact, when we first started, we didn't offer coaching as an option. However, after doing role plays in sales seminars that include a customer, sales person and a coach role play, we realized there was a big need for training centered around coaching that would result in improved performance.

When the role plays were observed, I was taken aback by how negative the coaching actually was. Now don't misunderstand me, it wasn't that it was done in an overtly harsh or mean way, but the content was brutal. In fact, what it became was a laundry list of everything that was wrong or forgotten during the role play. I can only imagine what it must be like in the actual work environment with no audience around. Most people don't look at being coached as a positive thing, but instead, consider being coached a; self-esteem lowering, chop the legs out from under me, knock me down a peg or two, question my ability, why did I get up this morning, experience. Wow...and people don't like to be coached? To quote my young nephew, "DUH".

Great coaches -- not good -- but great, know that the purpose of coaching for performance is to;

1) Put my people in the best position to win.

2) Make my people's job easier and more rewarding.

3) Make my job easier!

Here are a few steps for effective job coaching that can help you achieve your performance goals:

1) First, are there coaching guidelines for all your manager/leaders or does everyone do their own version? It's important to be consistent.

2) Start your coaching by identifying and communicating what you saw that you liked. This makes participants feel much better about themselves and the idea of being coached.

3) Before you share any more observations, be sure to ask participants to do a self-assessment covering the following: 

- "How did YOU feel it went?"

- "Is there anything YOU would have done to get a different outcome?"

- "Are there any areas specifically where YOU feel you need help?"

Experience has shown that when you ask these questions people tend to be much more critical of themselves than you could ever be. 

When coaching for performance, it's important that your body language is positive. Smiling and making eye contact is the key, just as it is in sales. This should be a positive experience because you are there to HELP! Do they feel that way?

For each thing you pick out as an "Area of opportunity to strengthen" offer up three things you observed that you thought they did well. This takes practice because it's always easier to tear down than to build up.

Don't base your coaching on the final result, instead, base it on what you observed during the customer interaction. Remember, you are coaching BEHAVIORS not results. Don't base success or failure on whether the sales person closed the sale or got the customer to purchase additional accessories or services. Base success on whether or not the participant modeled the behavior that best reflects your company's ethics, selling strategies, and customer service. 

If they have done all that right, then thank them for doing a great job and pat them on the back. The truth is, not every customer buys even when everything is done right. That's OK. When the behavior is right 100 percent of the time, the results will take care of themselves.

Coaching for performance can, and will be, a great asset if you look at it through the eyes of the people you are coaching. If you walk up to one of your people and they start rolling their eyes because they know they are about to be "coached", you know they're not looking forward to it. Learn how the experts at Stuart & Associates can assist you and your team in evaluating what YOU are doing, how you may be able to build your team up, and accelerate performance.

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John Quattrucci

John Quattrucci is President of Stuart & Associates, a retail consulting firm specializing in Sales and Margin Growth Programs and Returns Reduction Programs.

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