A coach watches the store and gives feedback to employees at least once a shift – if not more often. A coach in a store will recognize when an employee is struggling and make adjustments. A coach analyzes interactions with customers to see if employees need more product knowledge or a more (or less) aggressive sales technique. A coach provides feedback, encouragement and advice to the team to improve job performance. A coach sees his (or her) role as improving the team that delivers a great customer experience – not delivering the customer experience himself.
To transition from manager to coach, there are some fundamentals to practice.
1) Be in a position to notice – and take the time to coach. Make time in your schedule to watch the team as they complete their work and interact with customers. Accept that part of your role is to observe, analyze and thoughtfully advise your team. Do not jump in and do it for them – that’s what a Team Captain does.
2) Provide timely feedback. Give feedback the same day an observation occurs. It should never come later unless there is real research you need to do. Feedback is most effective when it is occurs immediately after the event.
3) Be specific. People cannot make the necessary adjustments with generalities. For example, an employee who hears “make more effective suggestions for customers” will struggle to improve while one who hears “when making a suggestion for a product, take it from the shelf and place it in the customer’s hands” will know what to do differently next time.
4) Be consistent. First make sure your standards are uniform and predictable. Then make sure every manager is in alignment so that employees understand the standards.
5) Be Fair. There is a difference between “treat everyone the same” and “treat everyone fairly.” It is the definition of an inspiring leader. Leaders draw the best out of individual players by challenging each one to reach their personal best. That cannot be done by treating everyone the same.
6) Follow up. Consistently evaluate the team and recognize when they are creating new habits or slipping into old ones. It is a good way to set a tone of accountability.