Service reps face more and more complexity every day. Product and service offerings are proliferating and evolving fast, as is technology. Customer expectations are high. So how can managers get the best performance out of service reps in today’s demanding environment?
“Service organizations often turn to training to improve rep performance,” says Tiffany Fountain, vice president and team manager at Gartner. “Although training sets a foundation, coaching improves performance by helping employees apply their skills in the job.”
When done correctly, coaching is the greatest driver of performance in service organizations — and the good news is that when surveyed, service managers feel confident in their ability to coach. The problem is that they are often bogged down and stretched too thin to give coaching the attention they’d like.
Not all managers are created equal
Each day, tasks such as handling customer requests, call monitoring, supporting customer projects, creating or revisiting team process, and analyzing data and creating reports pull managers in different directions. Additionally, managers spend about 35% of their time in meetings and send and receive 175 emails a day, resulting in very little time to spend coaching.
Gartner studied manager approaches to employee coaching and development to understand which style best improves employee performance. The results were slightly unexpected, but provide relief to service leaders and managers who may feel stretched thin.
Connector managers triple the likelihood that their direct reports are high performers
Service leaders prefer “Always-On” managers — those who commit to constant employee coaching and development. Unexpectedly, Always-On managers are least likely to improve employee performance. “In fact, these managers degrade employee performance,” says Fountain.
The manager style that drives performance
Instead, Gartner research found “Connector” managers, or those who foster meaningful connections to and among employees, teams and the organization to develop an employee’s specific capabilities, are the most equipped. Connector managers triple the likelihood that their direct reports are high performers,” says Fountain.
These type of managers don’t have to be the sole resource for their direct reports. Instead, they understand the importance of introducing their employees to the right people for their development needs.
What connector managers do
These managers utilize specific coaching and development tactics to help drive performance:
- The prioritize time to understand their employees and focus on quality, targeted development instead of volume.
- They build transparency around individual and team development goals while encouraging and recognizing peer development.
- They teach employees how to expand their networks, learn from connections and take on new experiences.