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Coaching quality can be one of the most difficult coaching feedback sessions managers have with their employees. Have you ever run into a problem getting your employees to listen to and accept feedback on the quality of their work?  When coaching quality does it typically become an argument about the rules?  Whether you are managing a call center, a production facility, a sales team, a Starbucks, or a Gap, creating a quality product or customer experience is key to any businesses success and developing your employees focus on quality is a must to deliver on these expectations.

Coaching Quality - Having an Effective Coaching Feedback Sessions

Why are these coaching feedback sessions so difficult and even adversarial?  There are many reasons that coaching quality can be difficult ranging from, employee compensation being tied to a quality assurance rating or survey results, to a human’s inability to accept re-directive feedback.  In any case, the manager can at minimum create an environment where coaching quality is seen as a good thing by focusing on these key points.

  • Define what a good job looks like

  • Provide Training

  • Measuring Success

  • Feedback loop

The first step in ensuring you produce a quality product or provide a quality service is to define what you expect.  Do you think it’s a fluke that all sweaters are folded the same way and at the same size on the sweater display?  Are you amazed when your hair cut looks exactly like the one in the magazine?  Or when it doesn't?  Setting standards or expectations for performance are key in achieving your desired outcome.

You can communicate the standards all day long, but if the employee doesn't know how to do the job, it doesn't matter.  Some jobs require training and others simply need to be communicated.  In any event, let the employee know what a good job looks like.  When coaching quality if possible, always give the employee a visual of what the end result should be. This can be in the form of peers as examples, training, final products, or by watching you.

Measuring success is crucial when coaching quality because this will be your leading indicator on how to measure quality and ultimately how to coach.  It is a common misconception that measuring success must be numerical in nature.  When coaching quality the quantitative measure is certainly the easiest approach to measuring success, using measurements such as units completed and dollars sold or survey results indicated.  Non-numerical and qualitative measures can be used as well.  They may look like adherence to a call flow, selling a value proposition, the tone of an interaction or willingness to take ownership.  For the coaching feedback sessions you want to focus on the behaviors that are driving the measures.  What are they specifically doing or not doing that needs to change or that you want them to continue doing? This will ensure that measuring success can be done in a way that is always relevant to the job the employee is performing.

Once the success behaviors have been articulated, it’s time to begin coaching quality around the job done.  This feedback loop is imperative for employee development.  Without employee development, the business will not grow and flourish as it could.  Many operations and businesses stagnate and never reach their full potential because the manager/coach does not conduct coaching feedback sessions that are a necessity in driving employee productivity and performance.

So, how does the manager focus on coaching quality while keeping their employees engaged and accepting the feedback?  Set-up the coaching feedback sessions in a non-confrontational way, such as utilizing the IGROW Model.  You may have the employee audit their own work prior to your coaching feedback sessions. If that’s not possible at a minimum let them know ahead of time what you will be discussing.  Ask them to come prepared to assess their performance in the specific area you wish to discuss.  The format of the coaching feedback sessions should always follow a standard flow.

  • Ask the employee to tell you what they did or are doing well.  Do not let them go immediately to their opportunities or things that were not completed to standards.  It is important to learn from the things they have done correctly and to point out what they are completing successfully.

Notice as you are coaching quality you are not discussing a quality number or survey metric. Your coaching should be behavioral in nature.  Do not coach a number.  Be granular and talk about behaviors.  Behaviors Drive Results.

  • The manager/coach should then provide positive feedback.  You may have identified behaviors the employee did not.  If you identified the behaviors the employee already discussed, that’s okay.  Reinforce those.
  • Next, have the employee identify and articulate the behaviors they did not exhibit to meet the standards. Ask them to be specific.  You want the employee to take ownership and be accountable for their own actions.
  • The manager/coach should then provide their feedback based on observation or data.  Again, be specific and behavioral.
  • Now that you have identified what they are doing well (meeting quality expectations) and what they can do better (to meet quality expectations), move to the coaching on how they will change their behaviors to meet quality guidelines.
    • Since the employee has identified the gap in performance, this may only require follow-up on the coach’s part to ensure they have changed their behavior consistently over time.
    • If the behavior identified requires skill development, the coach should walk the employee through Development Action Plan writing.
  • Leave coaching feedback sessions letting the employee know you believe they will successfully make a change in behavior and that you will follow-up with them on their progress.