Recently, I was sitting at the bar at an Applebee’s in Flowood, Mississippi – having dinner by myself (as I often do while traveling for business.) It wasn’t very busy at the restaurant – it was me and another business traveler at the bar and there were a few people dining at tables and booths. The restaurant phone started to ring. And it continued to ring. And ring. And ring. I was getting annoyed – one of my biggest pet peeves is an unanswered phone at a place of business. Finally, the caller either hung up or someone answered – I couldn’t tell. As I sat there digging into my Thai Shrimp Salad (fabulous, by the way,) a gentleman who I assumed to be the Manager began to speak softly to the young lady who was tending bar. Since it was so quiet in the place, I heard the entire conversation. It went something like this:
Manager: “Is there any reason that you didn’t answer the phone just now?”
Bartender: “My job is to tend bar. Not to answer the phone.”
Manager: “Actually, we’re a team here and your job is to do whatever is necessary. Plus there are people sitting here at the bar, customers who most likely noticed that the phone was ringing while you were watching the TV. Don’t you think that sends a bad signal?”
Bartender: “I have no idea. I’ll answer it next time.”
Manager: “OK. Remember – teamwork. And you’re not the only one to whom I’ll be speaking about this.”
Bartender: “OK. Sorry.”
Manager: “It’s cool.”
I smiled. I couldn’t help it. This Manager saw a “coachable moment” and took advantage of it. Sure, he could have spoken to the Bartender in a more private setting. But I doubt he knew that one of the people sitting at the bar was a customer service trainer and might eavesdrop a bit. Personally, I think he handled the situation marvelously. He didn’t raise his voice. He asked for the employee’s input. He reminded her about the concept of teamwork and that ‘it’s not my job’ is never an acceptable response. And he was able to get a resolution from the employee that it won’t happen again.
Here are 3 ways to effectively coach your employees:
Recognize “coachable moments” and address them immediately: It might be necessary sometimes to wait a few minutes, especially if the employee is still dealing with your customer; however, if you have a “coachable moment,” try to seize it right away! Don’t wait. Address the situation as soon as it is possible after it occurs. If you wait too long, the specific circumstances will get lost to memory. Call the employee aside and review the moment. Ask for feedback and input. Get a resolution. And remember that “coachable moments” don’t have to be negative. You can create one for a positive situation as well as a way to encourage employees to keep doing great work.
Look for the good FIRST: Start your coaching sessions with the positives. Find and review the good in what the employees are doing. Then tackle the areas for improvement. Always ask for the employees’ input. But make sure they understand that they’re being held accountable for their work. End the coaching session with resolutions about future performance.
Encourage your employees to start/keep a Journal: This is a great way to include the employees in keeping written records of important matters. When they make those all-important resolutions at the end of your coaching sessions, make sure those go into the journal. Ask the employees to jot down any questions, concerns, or suggestions they have in the journal. Review the contents of the employee journals during every coaching session.
Seize “coachable moments,” follow the good-improve-resolution SYSTEM for coaching, and make use of journals. What other suggestions do you have?
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