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Consortium for Service Innovation

Technique 7.2: Coaching for Success

Benefits of Coaching

Studies show classroom or online training alone will increase productivity by 22%.  Training combined with coaching results in a 86% increase in productivity.  The average ROI is six times the cost of coaching, and leads to consistent, replicable bottom-line results.  Consortium members who have invested in training are more successful than those who compromise the training program by not making it a priority in the organization or not giving the coaches the time to coach.  For more on the role of coaching, see Technique 7.1: KCS Roles and Licensing Model.

The Coach's focus should first be on evolving an individual's KCS skills, then, over time, shift to developing team capabilities. Although organizations recognize the need for training, they often overlook the need for coaching. An investment in training becomes largely wasted without the follow-up provided by a Coach's on-the-job reinforcement and support. This is especially true with KCS, which requires knowledge workers to develop and foster a set of new work habits, not just skills. An effective coaching program will shorten adoption time. In fact, the benefits the organization will achieve are directly proportional to the time they invest in coaching.

The Coach must have a profound knowledge of the KCS principles and processes as well as strong communication and influence skills. We have found it most effective to have Coaches be part-time KCS Coaches and part-time in the role of the peers they are coaching. A few organizations have tried full-time Coaches and have found that the Coaches quickly lose touch with the reality of issue resolution. As a result, the Coaches lose credibility with those they are coaching. A good rule of thumb is for Coaches to split their time equally between handling requests and KCS coaching. 

The intent of coaching is to develop individual habits of proficiency and team performance, not simply to ensure the correctness of KCS article content. The quality of content is promoted through the development of individual proficiencies.

KCS Coach Competencies

Effective coaching relies on:

  • A thorough understanding of the KCS Practices
  • Ability to articulate the why we are doing KCS and what's in it for the knowledge worker
  • Understanding of support processes and tools 
  • Inquiry, Advocacy, Appreciation and Reflection
  • Excellent communication skills, particularly in the following areas:
    • Listening skills, seek to understand
    • Explaining and describing concepts
    • Providing feedback
    • Influencing to generate results
  • Mindfulness of feelings
  • Demonstrated ability to:
    • Manage time effectively
    • Ability to identify coaching moments - use data and measures to help others become more proficient
    • Appropriate communication with management
    • Deal with objections like (see Objection Handling in Technique 8.7: Communication is the Key)
      • Can't capture in the workflow
      • Don't have time to create articles
      • "Dumbing down" my job
      • Giving away my value
  • Demonstrated commitment to the success of team members

Using Organizational Network Analysis to Select Coaches

Selecting the right Coaches is a critical component to the success of KCS.  The goal of the Coach is to increase the competencies of others, not to showcase their own skills or expertise on a subject.  The Coach is:

"A trusted role model advisor, wise person, friend, Mensch, steward, or guide - a person who works with emerging human and organizational forces to tap new energy and purpose, to shape new visions and plans, and to generate desired results.  A coach is someone trained and devoted to guiding others into increased competence, commitment, and confidence."  

- Frederic Hudson

Selecting the wrong Coaches can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Inconsistent participation among groups or geographies
  • KCS articles that are not findable
  • Duplicate articles
  • Bottlenecks getting articles published
  • Poor quality articles
  • A great start to a KCS deployment, followed by a downturn in activity

Many organizations have made the mistake of picking the subject matter experts, technical leads, or documentation editors as the Coaches without considering social skills.  Oracle, Novell, Microsoft, Quest, and Openwave have used Organizational Network Analysis (ONA, sometimes called Social Network Analysis or SNA) to view their organizations' trust network in order to gain insight into who to select as Coaches, to identify collaborators in the organization, to validate Coach selections that have already been made, and to diagnose the cause of inconsistent KCS results.

Organizational Network Analysis is a mathematical and visual analysis of relations, flows, and influences between people, groups, and organizations.  The nodes in the network represent people and the lines represent connections through various social behaviors.  ONA input data can be gathered through surveys, behaviors or analysis of electronic communications (social media, email, etc.).  The members of the Consortium collected data through the use of surveys.

Sample Survey Questions to Select Coaches:

  • I would be more effective in my job if I could interact more with this person(s): __________.    
  • Whom do you go to for technical advice or problem solving?    
  • Whom do you go to for non-technical advice; process or policy information or general issues? 
  • Whom do you go to explore new ideas?    
  • Whom do you trust to keep your best interests in mind?    
  • If you don't know who to go to.... whom do you contact to find out? (who knows who knows?)    

Upon the completion of the survey the nodes (or people selected in the survey) are input into the ONA tool.  The output of a tool in a relationship map and several measures, including:

DEGREE CENTRALITY - Number of connections a node has, more is not necessarily better, we want to connect the otherwise unconnected

BETWEENNESS - Connection between groups (broker), high degrees on betweenness could indicate single points of failure

NETWORK CENTRALIZATION - Less centralized networks have no single points of failure

NETWORK REACH - These measures have proven effective not only to select Coaches but also to find who knows what faster, or to find connectors when companies are merging, built innovation teams and learning communities and to support partners and alliance

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