An agent of mine came in late again yesterday. That marked his third tardiness infraction for the month and according to the company handbook, it’s already enough to warrant a documented verbal warning. Under normal circumstances, I would have done that but this is no ordinary case, as prior to this month, the agent involve has always been among the top and responsible performers. I decided to speak with him about the matter.
I first asked him how he was doing, to which he answered ‘fine,’ then looked away. I looked at him in the eye but then his eyes wandered far. His gesture gave me the impression that he doesn’t intend to open up and whatever issues he’s having, he’s not willing to share it with me.
I realized I had to let him know the purpose of the coaching session. I started began telling him what the situation is. I discussed about the operation’s policy and the number of times he has violated it. I also told him about how good a performer he is, and how most of his colleagues admire him. I stressed the word admire and let it linger on him. It is then that he started to open up. Again, I asked him what is going on.
I was surprised to hear him saying how dissatisfied he is with his job. He said in the five years he has been working for the company, not once did he felt that the management recognized his contributions. I wanted to cut him off and remind about the number of times he has been nominated employee of the month, not to mention the monthly incentive he is enjoying every month as a token for his hard work. I, however, decided against it. Instead, I asked him why he felt that way. This time, I leaned forward because I want to send him a message that he has my undivided attention and that I am interested in what he is saying.
He first scratched his back and avoided eye contact. The gesture told me he is hesitant to speak. So I gave him a pat on the back and assured him that whatever it is he wants to say, it will be handled in a professional manner. He relaxed.
He then told me about how he work hard to make sure that his performance would be at par with the company’s standard but in the several times that the company has opened higher position openings, I never endorsed him. Instead, I endorsed an agent who may have been performing well but not as good as he does.
I was very careful not to fold my arms or do any kind of body movements that would indicate I was offended by what he told me. I told him I appreciated his honesty, and then gave him a casual yet earnest smile to show sincerity.
I explained to him the competencies needed on the previous job openings and how the others demonstrated those skills more than the others. I then asked him what career path he’d like to take. He said he wanted to be a team leader too, just like me. I again smiled at him encouragingly. I told him the competencies needed to become a team leader and together, we laid out the action plan that we would be doing in the days to come to help him prepare for this position.
Through the use of effective communication skills, the conversation became a win/win thing for both of us. I found out that his tardiness is due to his lack of motivation to come to work. By addressing the reasons why he is not as motivated as before, we have also addressed his tardiness issue. This coaching session made me realize that conversations can be successful as long us both parties demonstrate effective listening skills most particularly, body language skills. (Reiman, 2006)
Reiman, T. (2006) Body Language and Facial Expressions. Retrieved May 3, 2010 from http://www.bodylanguageuniversity.com/public/197.cfm