Why you need to be taken down a notch: 6 reasons to ask your trainees for feedback.

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Feedback: You need it.

It can be scary to put your “baby”– your carefully created, lovingly made training event– into the hands of what sometimes seems like crazed toddlers–your reps– for honest feedback. But you should welcome feedback, encourage it, and take it seriously. Here’s why:

1: One of the major goals of any training program is compliance with the ideas being taught. True compliance, internalization, and maybe even evangelism, will only come with full cooperation.

Reps won’t fully co operate with something they don’t buy and are just doing under threat of losing their jobs.This is when you get bored, sing- song recitation of scripts, “hacks” and “cheats”, transfers and aux- hopping, and other passive aggressive avoidance tactics. On the other hand, reps who had a hand in creating a great training program feel respected and invested in, and will most likely give you their full co operation.

2: As fabu as you are, you may have a blind spot for your “little darlings”.

I remember being a Graduate student and having to regularly pump out 20- page papers, in addition to my personal writing, and reading that the key thing to do as an editor of manuscripts is to “kill your little darlings” or at least, be open to doing so.

Little darlings aren’t just too-sweet, too-perfect characters, they can come in the form of the

a) overarching idea (Hunger Games-like contests for a shy, stage-fright-y community-oriented population? Whose idea was THAT?)

b) the execution (Hey, if 6 hours of training is good, let’s ramp it up to 10 hour days and get this puppy done early!),

or the

c) training events themselves. I once had a game of “sell me this random item” go over like a lead balloon with a class. (I took it out after it’s maiden voyage, never to return).

Honest feedback will go a long way towards helping you see and kill your little darlings.

3: A good trainer is like a good performer- witty, sensitive, and “on”. But a *great* trainer is one who interacts with the audience.

Think about how comedienne Kathy Griffin engages with her superfans, or when she gets cutely caught up in a joke and says “Oh, you guys aren’t going to believe this!”, addressing the audience like friends, rather than keeping that fourth wall between her and her fans. This is the vibe you should be going for.

Great trainers engage their audience– their trainees. You’ll get on- the- spot feedback from your trainees in the moment, such as their enthusiasm level, facial expressions, and engagement level with the material, but it’s always good to have it written down for future reference.

4: It sends a message about what you expect in terms of performance from your trainees.

This is a bit abstract, but stay with me. When you show respect and care for your trainees, by letting them know you’d like their feedback after the sessions, it shows that you’re investing in them, and in the training program as a whole. It shows that you trust them, and that you value their time, and input. They’re not just robots or cogs for you to shove through the system– you care!

Allow me to get on my soapbox for just a moment (hey it’s my blog and I’ll suds if I wanna, suds if I wanna!). In my 3 years in the Philippines, I saw most trainers treat reps as if they were kindergarteners. This created a vicious cycle in which most reps kind of acted like kindergarteners– screaming when the power blipped out for a moment, sneaking food under the desks, lying about taking smoke breaks when they shouldn’t have been, etc.

The problems of the call center industry are too many and tangled to get into here in this entry, but one of them is that we treat reps like children (no paper allowed on the production floor–including Kleenex– really?!) and then moan and wring our hands when they passively transfer a screaming customer into “the Void” instead of stepping up and taking responsibility.

Adding “took ownership of call” to the quality mon form isn’t enough. It has to start with training and induction. Asking your reps to honestly and carefully evaluate your training class is one way to set a standard from Day 1. /endrant…for now.

In my experience, the majority of people will rise to the standards that you set and enforce for them– provided you meet them yourself, of course!

5:Ask to receive. (“Black ops”!)

My regular readers know that I am a fan of “using black ops for white missions”—in other words, for using psychological “tricks” to maximize your training and customer service experience. Why should Madison Avenue ad guys have all the fun? Studies have shown that asking someone for a favor actually bonds you to them more than doing a favor for them!

http://greatonthejob.com/2011/01/asking-for-a-favor-the-three-keys/

So ask your trainees to do you a favor- and fill out the survey cards you hand around, and they’ll likely bond with you and think fondly of your class and your suggestions/ instructions.

6: In case you need another reason, it’s great for your brag sheet/ book/ file.

It’s one thing to say you’re a great trainer. It’s another to be able to pull out a sheaf of glowing, handwritten references or direct a potential employer to a Survey Monkey link with top end results. It shows your bosses that you’re not afraid of honest feedback and that you expect the majority will be good. It gives you concrete proof of what you’re doing well.

So…how do you rate this blog entry?

Naomi Kelsey
SuperHumanNature
Naomi Kelsey has 10+ years of progressive responsibilities in the customer service industry, and 3 in the BPO training field, with an Instructional Design focus. She specializes in creating custom-tailored training programs in Language, Customer Service, and US Culture for both internal and external call center clients. Her vision is to bring "supernaturally human" customer service to all customers through innovative training methods and materials, great coaching tips, and true expert advice.

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