Updated: Dec 19, 2022
We all know the war for talent is fierce, customer demand continues to rise, and employees are looking for a new level of understanding in the workplace.
To ensure sustainably great customer experiences, you need a team that is ready to deliver excellence for them each day - and beyond just perfunctory effort to caring about quality and performance.
Once you have taken the time to ensure you have a compelling reason why someone would want to work for you, and you've selected the best talent you can, you must continue to develop and inspire them.
Let's be crystal clear here - nothing we are about to discuss works if you haven't paid attention to employee value proposition, selection, and training.
You have ensured that your compensation package, benefits, culture, and path to growth are all in line with what your candidate pool expects based on market and competitor trends.
Those who source talent understand what types of candidates you are looking for and there is a plan to interview for those who align with the ideal employee persona.
You have onboarded your team in a way that makes them feel welcome, enables them with the tools and skills they need, and ensures they understand what is expected of them. This includes the boring, but important stuff, like scheduling, paperwork, parking, and tools they need for their jobs.
Now if you have those three items well in hand, let's talk about how to coach your team. I am not talking necessarily about traditional training here - this is not about gathering the team in a room and holding a formal training session.
There is nothing wrong with formalized training - in fact, it is a key part of an employee development strategy, but it isn't the final word on the topic. I spend a lot of my time in front of audiences delivering hospitality training, leadership training, employee engagement training - and I believe it has tremendous value.
However that is not what we are talking about today.
Let's focus on how daily coaching is the most powerful employee engagement strategy of all.
You will open up communication
Communication is one of the most noted items within most employee opinion surveys in terms of what is lacking from their perspective.
This is why pre-shift huddles are usually on my list of things that you have to do to impact the overall employee experience, as they are a fundamental cornerstone of employee engagement and communication. Be sure that you have these locked in each day and don't let them get pushed off of your schedule.
Communication goes beyond just the pre-shift, though. You must embrace a spirit of listening that helps you understand your team even better. Listening has become a lost art and if you take the time to talk less and listen more, you'll be able to connect even better with your team. This also means taking the time to speak with your team beyond the daily work and get to know them on a slightly more personal level.
Just the simple act of saying hello and goodbye at the start and end of the day will help you build deeper relationships.
This is also a way to ensure that you keep your finger on the pulse of employee sentiment, hear ideas from your team, and ensure that you are taking an active role in their development. This is crucial as the war for talent rages on and a retaining team members is top of mind for us all.
You can observe and manage performance in real time
When you spend time with your team you are able to see what they are doing in real time and understand how their work interacts with other in the business. It gives you the chance to impact both behavior and performance in a way that drives immediate results.
This is not about standing back and just watching all the time - although there is something useful about standing still and observing how your business runs. This is also about jumping in and helping in a front line role so you can understand what frustrations they might be experiencing and ideas they may have about improvements for the business.
The crucial piece is the agility to course correct mid-stream. As you work with your team, it is a chance to coach them and share ideas that can improve their performance. If you ever played any kind of games or sports, you may remember that coaches typically jump in to make corrections right in the middle of the action. A tennis player might be over-looping their forehand. A bowler might need to keep their head steadier. A chess player may struggle foreseeing the way a knight moves around the board. Coaches know that waiting until hours after the practice to give feedback is much less impactful than jumping in right away to make the correction.
You will find this not only improves performance in the moment but also prevents any bad habits from developing.
You can model behaviors
Perhaps the most impactful thing about being out with your team in the business is a chance to show them how it is done.
As a leader your team is always watching how you behave and taking their cues from you.
Even if you don't think your team is watching and listening, they absolutely are doing so. If you pay close attention to detail, embrace customer service, and clean up after yourself, your team is sure to adopt some of those behaviors as well.
I remember working with a restaurant group many years ago and they were doubling down on improving employee handwashing - a great priority to be sure. They found that if managers, chefs, and district manages washed their hands regularly every time they entered a kitchen, the team was more likely to do so as well. The same was true with appropriate safety shoes, jewelry, and hair coverings.
Remember your good and bad behaviors will rub off on your team, so as you spend time in with your employees, set a great example.
Sometimes it is hard to slow down and take the time to interact with your team. This is especially true when you have so called business experts spouting trite old expressions like "work on your business, not in your business." While it is true that you don't want to get into the weeds with small minutia everyday, there is something special when leaders step into the front lines and interact with their teams.
In fact, the daily act of coaching your employees is the most important thing you can do to ensure that they want to stay with you and that they provide the experiences your customers demand to make you successful and profitable.
Tony Johnson, CCXP Customer + Employee Experience | Speaker | Author | Trainer | Consultant 606.356.7447 FREE RESOURCES AND TRAINING TOOLS WEB - TWITTER - FACEBOOK - YOUTUBE - INSTAGRAM - LINKEDIN - PODCAST - CALENDAR Improve Your Customer Service with my Book: TOGETHER WE SERVE: Four Proven Strategies to Create Winning Experiences for Your Guests and Your Team. Click to Purchase on Amazon.com
Tony is an award winning speaker and author on the topics of sales growth, customer experience, and leadership. Tony speaks to thousands annually and has been featured on ABC News and Fox News. He is available for business planning, motivational keynotes, leadership workshops, and employee service skills training.
Tony is the founder of Ignite Your Service and the Chief Experience Officer for 4xi Global Consulting.
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