Coaching With Compassion Drives Performance
It’s an age old story in contact centers. We coach individuals when metrics aren’t met or customer service interactions are below standard. In so many cases, this behavior continues until the inevitable end of employment.
Contact center leaders are conditioned to believe that the “data dump and run” coaching method is the most efficient way to address performance gaps. Richard Boyatzis, Distinguished Professor at Case Western University, discovered that this type of coaching puts employees in a position where they need to defend themselves, leads to a state of cognitive impairment, and derails any possibility of improvement. Here’s a great video about this topic below.
In a business where delivering extraordinary customer service is dependent on retaining top talent and keeping them motivated and inspired, it’s imperative that we seek out new coaching methods. Boyatzis offers a simple solution: Coaching with Compassion
What is Compassion?
Berkeley’s Greater Good website defines compassion as the willingness “to suffer together.” They report that emotion researchers define compassion as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
In the workplace, compassion often begins by practicing deep listening. This technique requires a commitment to turn your phone off, move away from the computer, refrain from placing value or passing judgement and just listen. Deep listening becomes a compassionate act when the listener identifies a need, offers assistance, and follows up on the outcome.
Why Practice Compassion?
The research on practicing compassion is still young but the preliminary results are promising. Greater Good at Berkeley reports that compassionate action activates pleasure circuits in the brain. It has also been reported that compassionate acts allow people to become more resilient to stress, lower blood pressure, and increases happiness.
While some people have the natural ability to demonstrate compassion at will, most of us find that it’s a skill that must be cultivated. Through targeted exercises and commitment to learning, compassion can be developed by enrolling in a science-based compassion course, reviewing and practicing the tips listed on the Greater Good at Berkeley website, or choosing to conduct your own research and developing a personalized compassionate training program.
If you’re fresh out of time for creating your own compassionate training program here are a two simple suggestions you can do now:
Look for commonalities
Researchers at Berkeley discovered when an individual chooses to focus on similarities, the ability to be compassionate increases exponentially. During a conversation try mimicking a behavior. If the speaker is shaking a leg, shake your leg. Are they tapping their fingers? Tap your fingers in the same rhythm.
Build on a shared interest
If you aren’t comfortable mimicking a behavior, build on a shared interest. When I was working with the fabulous leadership team in our Coos Bay contact center during one of our Coaching with Compassion workshops, I successfully demonstrated this technique. Through the practice of deep listening, I discovered that one of our supervisors shares a passion for all things canine. I shared a story of waking up with all three of my dogs sharing the couch with me as I was recovering from a stomach bug. I saw her eyes light up, a big smile came across her face, and she reported that she immediately felt a connection with me.
Compassion should play an integral role in all coaching sessions in contact centers and beyond. Try these techniques in your next coaching session and let us know how it goes.
Manager of Colleague &
Sheri Kendall-duPont’s passion for creating positive change within organizations led her to FCR. In her current role as the Manager of Colleague and Leadership Development she has developed programs that have inspired those in leadership to create a coaching culture. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Northwestern Christian University and a Master’s Degree in Training and Development from Roosevelt University. Her career in education began in 1999 and since then she has developed workplace learning opportunities for non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, government agencies, healthcare organizations and contact centers. Follow Sheri on Twitter and LinkedIn.