KCS Coaching is too often overlooked or dismissed. Coaching is a critical aspect of a successful KCS program and a coach development program is an essential component of Phase 2. Consortium member companies have demonstrated a strong, direct correlation between the amount of time spent coaching and the benefits realized from KCS. An effective coaching program is a necessary investment.
Coaching is Critical
The benefits gained with KCS are proportional to the investment made by the organization in coaching.
The responsibilities of the KCS Coach include:
- Acting as a change agent by promoting understanding of the intent and benefits of KCS
- Promoting understanding and adherence to the content standard (article quality)
- Promoting understanding and adherence to the Solve Loop processes (Process Adherence Review)
- Assessing the quality of articles and adherence to the process
- Providing feedback to the knowledge workers and, when appropriate, to management
- Establishing rapport and meeting regularly with the knowledge workers they are coaching
- Attending regular KCS Coach meetings
- Providing recommendations to the KCS Council to improve the workflow and the content standard
The KCS coaching program introduces these responsibilities and techniques for selecting the right people. It also includes providing the coaches with the tools and techniques to enable coaching success.
The coaching program includes:
- Organizational Network Analysis tools to select the right coaches
- KCS Coach Development Workshop
- On-going support of coaches
Selecting the Right Coaches
KCS Coaches need to have strong interpersonal skills and an excellent understanding of the KCS practices. It is important to select coaches who are respected and trusted by their peers, and who are interested in helping others be successful. They do not have to be subject matter experts or technical leads. In fact, as a general rule, we find the subject matter experts often do not have the influence skills or interaction style required to be an effective coach. There are some exceptions where subject matter experts also have the influence skills to be a good coach, but organizations who have simply defaulted to having their subject matter experts take on the role of KCS Coach without assessing their level of influence and interpersonal skills have not been successful.
During Wave I, certain individuals will demonstrate the characteristics of a good coach. The Wave I participants who naturally evolve into the role of helping others should be considered for KCS Coach positions.
Another approach that has proven to be successful in identifying coach candidates is a technique called Organizational Network Analysis (ONA, also known as Social Network Analysis). ONA exposes the trust network within the organization or team. ONA is a mathematical analysis and visual representation of relationships, flows, and influence between people. Data for the ONA is collected through a simple survey and run through an ONA tool. The output is a map that identifies the trusted, influential individuals who have the characteristics of a good coach. The results are often surprising! The organization chart or reporting structure so often used in organizations does not reflect who is influencing change in the organization. Corporate anthropologist Karen Stephenson says it best:
"You have to discover the world of connections buried underneath the traditional hierarchy. Knowing who trusts whom is as important as knowing who reports to whom. Ignore this hidden structure and your quality team players will jump ship, mentors will abandon their charges, institutional memory will vanish, and glad-handing schmucks will weasel their way into power.”
The ONA map provides important insight into who the influencers are in the organization. However the map alone is not sufficient. We find the highest level of success in identifying coach candidates is a combination of the ONA map and management judgment. The ONA map is an important compliment to management's view of the organization or team.
Once you have identified people with the characteristics of a good coach, the next step is to be sure they have the time and tools needed to be an effective coach. Enabling time to coach inevitably creates a significant challenge for management, as the organization is rarely going to add additional resources to cover the coaching activities and the KCS learning curve for the knowledge workers. If the team understands the benefits they will realize with KCS, and they are excited about doing KCS, they will often figure out a way to support the coaching activity.
A powerful message from leadership about the importance of KCS and their commitment to its success is relaxing service level expectations for 6-8 weeks while the team learns KCS. (Interestingly, we seldom see the service levels actually drop).
Coaching during Phase 2 of the KCS adoption should take 25- 50% of a coach’s time, so a coach should be responsible for five to eight people who are working towards their KCS license. When the knowledge workers are consistently following the workflow and creating quality articles, the coaching time will decrease from daily to weekly and eventually monthly. The goal is for the KCS Coach to develop others' KCS competencies so knowledge workers are searching, reusing, improving and, if it doesn't exist, creating articles with very little assistance from their coach.
KCS Coach Workshop
Influencing others to change their behavior requires skills beyond that of the typical knowledge worker. Once the coaches are identified, they participate in a KCS Coach Workshop. This workshop focuses on strengthening influence skills, understanding reports and tools available, and the process of coaching. It was developed by Dr. Beth Haggett, and is offered as a KCS Aligned service by several KCS Certified Trainers.
By using the AQI and PAR checklists, KCS Coaches provide feedback to the knowledge workers to promote the use, improvement, and creation of well-structured, useable articles. There is additional information about the KCS Coach program in the KCS Practices Guide.
The KCS Coach Workshop is a two to three day session with the following goals:
- Acquire an awareness of the influence skills needed to effectively coach
- Provide an opportunity to practice influence skills and assess individual strengths and growth opportunities
- Understanding the tools, techniques, and process for coaching
- Commit to working together as a team
- Appreciate the responsibility of being a coach in helping coachees achieve their goals with respect to KCS
- Create excitement about the opportunity to be a coach
Coaching for Coaches
The coaches need to establish regular communications as a coaching team and should have weekly or by-weekly meetings to discuss issues and to calibrate their interpretation and use of the AQI and PAR and the KCS Roles and Competency list.
Some organizations have sustained and improved the coaching program by having a lead coach. Others have used the Coach Workshop facilitator or the KCS Program Manager to follow up periodically with the organization’s coaches to reinforce the skills from the workshop and to discuss challenges and implement strategies. These meetings can be done via web sessions.