In February, we hosted a special edition of our Knowledge-Centered Service v6 Roundtable by inviting Dr. Beth Haggett to discuss KCS coaching. Dr. Beth brings over two decades of experience in helping companies create a coaching culture that supports employee engagement and flourishing for individuals and groups. She runs a KCS Coach Development Workshop to train internal coaches to support organizational change management strategy.

One of the most common points of failure in a KCS program, according to the Consortium of Service Innovation, is ineffective coaching and management.Given how paramount coaching is to the success of KCS programs, we were delighted to have Dr. Beth join us for the roundtable. 

Takeaways from Dr. Beth

#1 Effective coaching programs are worth the investment.

From increased engagement to more consistent bottom-line results, coaching programs are a mission-critical portion of any KCS program. When you enable your coaches, you enable your organization. Recent research studies back up these findings:

  • A Manchester Consulting Group study of Fortune 100 executives found that coaching resulted in ROI of six times the program cost.
  • An International Personnel Management Association survey found that productivity increased by 88 percent when coaching was combined with training (compared to a 22 percent increase with training alone).

#2 Coaches need to be present.

What is coaching? According to the International Coaching Federation, “coaching is the ongoing relationship between the professional coach and the client which focuses on the client taking action toward their vision, goals or desires. Coaching uses a process of inquiry and personal discovery to build the client’s level of awareness and responsibility and provides the client with structure, support and feedback.” 

In this definition, it’s less about the coach and more about the client or coachee. What are they hoping to achieve and how can the coach help them? This is a key question to ask and a way to dive deeper in coaching conversations. 

Many coaches, however, lose sight during their 1:1s with their teams because of distractions, work stress and other baggage that clouds their mind as they start their conversation. 

The first step of building any coaching relationship is to be present and focus on the interaction at hand, rather than bringing the stress of the work day into your coaching style. Pro tip: good coaches can do this by taking a few minutes to focus on breathing before any coaching conversation.

#3 Always have an open mind. 

Always start from the assumption that people are innately whole, capable and resourceful. An effective KCS program is built on trust and this belief is the foundation of that. “You don’t have to motivate them with carrots and sticks. They want to participate. They want to improve their work. It’s your job as a coach to figure out how to help them realize that need,” Dr. Beth explained. 

Dr. Beth also provided the example of a knowledge worker not writing articles. When you start from the realization that every worker is whole, capable and resourceful, the coaching conversation becomes less of a plea to write more articles, and more of an opportunity to dive deeper into the root cause of the worker’s reluctance to write articles. If the worker feels comfortable with their coach, they may share that they feel insecure about their writing ability or that English is not their first language. By getting to the real substance of the issue, the matter is resolved much more effectively.

#4 There are five key coaching skills every coach must master.

Coaching is an art and a science. Every coach makes mistakes, but good coaches share the same five skills: 

  • Listening. Coaches need to listen to what motivates, interests and excites their knowledge workers – but not every employee will directly say this. Coaches listen to more than just their words to understand this.
  • Advocacy. This is the act of supporting a person, change or idea. Coaches need to understand how to advocate for others, as well as their employees. Always “ask before coaching” to encourage the employees’ ownership of their initiatives. 
  • Appreciation. Timely, sincere and specific appreciation motivates employees. If positive feedback is only shared once a quarter during periodic reviews, coaches are missing out on opportunities to develop a deeper relationship with their workers.
  • Reflection. Take time to review each coaching conversation and approach. What went wrong? Where are their misunderstandings? How can you improve the relationship?
  • Inquiry. Good coaches ask the right questions. Ask questions to promote learning and inspire change. Asking open-ended questions that start with “how” encourages problem solving, as opposed to closed questions, which will shut the conversation down. 

#5 Understand the difference between goals and agendas.

Goals are the big picture – the overall vision they want to realize and hope they want to accomplish. The agenda is the specific topics to address during the coaching session and takeaways the coachee wants to walk away with. Dr. Beth gave the example of running a marathon to achieve better health. However, you’re not going to run a marathon each coaching session; instead you’ll work on specific skills with a training coach that gets you closer to your goal. 

What are the traits of the most effective KCS managers you’ve had? Share them with me in the comments!

Don’t forget to join us for our next KCS® Roundtable on March 10 at 2PM ET/11AM PT where we will debrief on the KCS World Tour in Silicon Valley, register here for our next KCS Roundtable. You still have time to attend the KCS World Tour in Santa Clara on March 3, join us and register here!

*KCS® is a service mark of the Consortium for Service InnovationTM