The Four Cs of Coaching

By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor

When most people think of the word “coach,” they immediately imagine someone on the sidelines screaming at their players to do a better job. That may be true in certain sports situations, but in business, a coach needs to have a completely different approach in order to help employees improve performance.

Let’s have a look at the role of a manager/coach and how it integrates with employee development. Where does traditional training come in? How does training relate to coaching? And what are the differences between training, coaching, and counseling?

The process starts with training. That’s the first step.

Let’s say you’re training a group. What usually happens is most of the group understands, learns, and benefits from the information you’ve taught. Unfortunately, not everyone will get it. What do we do about that small percentage of employees – often good, conscientious people — who may need personalized attention after training? They are the ones who need coaching.

Remember that coaching is strategically guiding someone to improve his or her performance. Coaching includes analyzing feedback to see the areas where the training hasn’t taken hold.

Is remedial training needed? That’s where the coaching comes in. These people need one-on-one help to develop their skills. Okay, we’ve talked about training and coaching. Where does counseling come in?

Counseling is helping someone explore, and possibly resolve, personal problems. Counseling is utilized if the employee isn’t performing. It’s for that special situation when training and coaching haven’t worked or where the employee is unwilling or unable to do the job. Counseling is especially useful if there is some distraction that is not job related.

We’re going to give you the Telephone Doctor four-step model for effective coaching in a call center or business environment. We call it the Four Cs of Coaching: Concurrence, Content, Commitment, and Congratulations or Continuation.

Concurrence is critical. Unless you and the trainee agree (concur) that there is a gap and they commit to the improvement that is needed, you won’t be able to coach to your full potential. We need concurrence. Both you and the employee need to concur there is an issue. Once that’s done, we can go on to the Content.

Content: What’s important is to identify the content that needs to be improved. What needs to be done? What are some of the issues involved? Where is the coaching needed? It is needed either because the employee doesn’t know how to do the job or doesn’t want to do the job. You need to find out which it is. The coach and the employee need to agree on the content, the issue, and the problem. Only then can they make a commitment to solve it.

Commitment: The coach and the employee need to make a commitment to solve the problem. Normally, you’re working with an intelligent, conscientious employee who wants to do a good job. With some coaching, the job will be done right.

Congratulations or Continuation: Once you and the employee have agreed on what needs to be corrected, you’ve given them the instruction on how to do it right, and the employee has committed to getting it done, it’s time for congratulations. Let them know they’ve done a good job. This is critical. It’s most important you don’t leave that part out. In a worst-case scenario, it’s continuation instead. A little more work may be needed with some employees to reach the congratulations step.

Much coaching takes place to fill a perceived need. You need to find out that there’s a gap in the performance of an employee and then plan a coaching approach that should improve his or her performance. It’s nice and orderly to be able to think about what you’re going to do. Formulate your plan and decide when you’re going to do your coaching.

Lastly, coaching should be done in private; never embarrass the employee. That’s not coaching, that’s being mean!

Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor, an international customer service training company, based in St. Louis, MO. Nancy is the author of four best selling books.

[From Connection Magazine March 2005]