Virtual Coaching: 5 Tips for Nurturing Employee Skills in a Remote Setting

Companies in the BPO space often talk about employee loyalty and the importance of a devoted workforce, but in the age of virtual work the balance has shifted, and businesses now need to prove their loyalty to their employees.

One of the best ways for an organization to show commitment to its people is to provide them with the opportunity to develop their skills and grow within the company. However, the shift to work-at-home has presented new challenges as companies attempt to migrate their coaching programs to an unfamiliar setting.

Aside from the obvious advice around communication tools and technology, here are several lesser-known tips for transforming the approach to remote coaching and showing loyalty to a virtual workforce.

Outline Clear Expectations from the Top Down

Business leaders in the BPO and customer experience industry have specific metrics and performance quotas that clients expect, but they don’t always filter that information down to the front lines. In a virtual setting, it’s vital to share these high-level expectations with everybody involved to ensure they’re working towards the same goals.

Employees must know exactly what is expected of them from the outset, so companies need to outline their expectations clearly and concisely for the whole workforce. Without this guidance, people will forge their own paths and are unlikely to reach the same business objectives. This risk is especially prevalent in a work-at-home setting, where people operate with a higher level of autonomy and independence.

If people don’t get the feedback and direction they need from the get-go, it becomes difficult to go back and fix their habits, which is ultimately detrimental to the employee’s growth. Make sure that expectations are well-documented, easily accessible, and updated accordingly if things change—the more concrete this process is, the better people can perform and hone their skills.

Help People Set Personal and Professional Goals

As an extension of the company’s high-level expectations, each employee should have individual goals that serve to improve their performance, both on a professional and personal level.

Leaders must spend time with every employee (more on this below) to outline what they want to achieve during their career within the company, as well as pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses to help them choose the right goals. On top of the hard skills required to perform their duties, these might include the development of soft skills, such as conflict management, emotional intelligence, or communication. The important thing is to let the employee decide where they want to grow.

This dedication to employee growth is not just an investment in your workforce, it’s an investment into the company’s long-term success.

Hold Regular One-to-One Sessions

With the expectations and goals in place, managers and supervisors need to ensure people meet them, which is best handled through periodic one-on-one sessions with employees.

These formal meetings should happen every quarter at the very minimum, if not monthly, to make sure that everyone is on the same page. The sessions serve to re-align any deviation from the employees’ goals while also outlining what the employee would like to achieve before the next meeting. They are interactive, two-way conversations that reveal what kind of support people need to continue to meet the expectations of the company.

It’s also a chance to discuss any changes to the broader business objectives, sharing information with people, and tying their goals back to the company’s plans—the more knowledge employees have, the more willing they are to show loyalty.

In the BPO industry, attrition often spikes after training new employees because people quickly feel lost and without support. In a virtual work environment, that risk is even greater, so employees need to know that they’ve got mentors and leaders available to them and they’re not all alone on an island. One-on-ones are a great way to prevent that.

Show Real-Time Recognition for Achievements and Wins

At Activus Connect, we’ve found that our SmartVirtual™ Ambassadors respond incredibly to immediate recognition for personal achievements, no matter how small.

When people are doing something right, they love to receive feedback and kudos for a job well done. For instance, a quick chat message to say “good job” after monitoring a call can be an uplifting and motivating moment, whether it comes from leaders or peers, so it helps to encourage everybody to provide positive feedback when it’s been earned.

This is especially true in a virtual environment. When people are isolated at home, they can’t always know that they’re doing things correctly, so it’s vital to incorporate some sort of recognition for their hard work regularly. During the day, these pieces of recognition help people feel valued in their roles. It shows that you know their names and know what they’re capable of, which creates the feeling of loyalty that remote employees are looking for.

Provide Microburst Training Courses

In a virtual contact center environment, there isn’t always time to pull large amounts of people off the phone to do elaborate training courses.

One of the ways to combat this is microburst training, which involves short training sessions of around two to five minutes, covering situational topics in a video, question sheet, or other multimedia resources. These training resources are either developed in-house or purchased from a third-party and can be sent out weekly, monthly, or whatever works for your company—there’s no limit to how they can be used.

Through targeted microburst training, companies can enhance employee skills rapidly while simultaneously maintaining productivity and hitting metric targets. It’s a flexible way to share knowledge and give people the chance to learn while freeing up training teams to focus on individual support.