How do managers and coaches engage with remote team members to provide meaningful behaviour based feedback?

Whilst there is nothing better than face to face observation, this is difficult and costly when engaging with a remote team member.

What is you could create practice scenarios for team members to practice? This can be achieved through periodic face to face reviews or through synchronous online tools.

Synchronisation of diaries to perform these roles plays are often challenging. When these online sessions are organised, they are often hijacked urgent customer or personnel issues.

Finding offline tools can help provide reach for organisations with remote teams, for them to practice and share for review with their managers and coaches. Whilst this will never replace the value if face to face observation, it does however has a couple of distinct plus points.

Firstly a manager or coach can create a single scenario once and distribute to all relevant team members. Secondly the team member can chose a moment to perform the practice and review their own performance before sharing with their manager or coach. Evidence shows that someone will typically practice 3-4 times before submitting what they have recorded for external review. This leverage one of the key tenets of learning adoption, practice within their own daily work context.
It means that team member and coach can respond at a time and place that suits them.Lastly it means that good practice recorded by team members can be shared amongst peers.

Mobile Practice has many applicable uses. I spend my time speaking with customers and prospects to understand their business needs in order to propose how Mobile Practice can be implemented within their context in order to bring value to their teams.

Through these conversations I have identified common threads of what an organisation may consider. This blog is designed to share what are the key questions to ask to create relevant practice scenarios.*

There are some key elements to consider when creating relevant practice scenarios. To create a practice scenario, think about a situational question that you wish participants to respond to.
"Imagine you find yourself in this situation, how do you respond?"

First Principles
*Mobile Practice helps teams practice what they have learned through a knowledge and skills training programme, and managers to review team behaviour in order to engage in coaching conversations.

3 Key steps

  1. What is the relevant situation/context to the learner?
  2. What are key steps to prepare a response?
  3. What behaviour do you wish to observe?

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1) What is the relevant situation/context to the learner?
The learner context is important for learners to be engaged and to practice.If a learner feels this relevance to their work and they can integrate this new learning with existing knowledge and practices, this increases participation.

To establish context the scenario ask the learner to imagine a situation that they encounter on a weekly basis. This situation could be hyopthetical but based in reality or an actual upcoming event (customer,client or patient meeting), where you can anticipate certain questions, challenges that the learner will be required to manage in order to achieve a successful result.

Example:
Imagine you are meeting your customer who is currently suffering from a service issue, and you will be expected to answer questions about how you will resolve this, knowing that the underlying issue cannot be resolved for a month. Prepare a 1-2 minute response to communicate and manage customer expectations.

Suggestion:
Keep the scenario relevant but general, ask the learner to apply their own specific context to the situation.

Ask the learner to prepare a short response 1-2 minutes should be sufficient.
If you find that the scenario requires a longer reply, break up the scenario into smaller chunks. Short videos improve the participation by the learner and coach and makes it easier and relevant to share good practice with team members.

Remember you can continue the dialogue inside the scenario with each learner with follow up responses.


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2) What are key steps to prepare a response?
Provide guide lines and instructions how you wish the learner to respond. This could mean including a short reminder of a knowledge and skills learnt through a training program, or expected behaviour.

This framework provides information to the learner so they understand how to prepare and what is the expected result.It also helps ensure a consistent form of response by all the learners.

Suggestions
Keep the instructions/guide lines as simple and relevant as possible,to avoid ambiguity and therefore inconsistent responses. You may wish learners to review external material such as training documentation or product offering brochures as part of their response.

Example
(lets continues with the previous example above).

  1. Receive the the customer challenge/complaint, ensuring you apply language that demonstrate active listening.

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3) What behaviour do you wish to observe?
This stage is key as this is what the manager and coach will use to engage in coaching conversations.

To provide effective meaningful feedback it must be based upon objective observable behaviour.

Lets take an example. Imagine it is agreed before a customer meeting that the sales executive as part of the meeting strategy will ask a series of open ended questions and when asked for a proof point of the main sales argument, they share a relevant industry case study. The sales manager decides to attend this meeting and as part of the meeting review back at the office, the sales manager wants to provide some coaching feedback.

Objective observable feedback may look like this. "In the meeting today you asked 6 open ended questions that soliticed information regarding how the customer supports their current operations and highlighted two problems they are experiencing. when asked about why we believe we can help them resolve these operational problems you presented the solution, but did not share the relevant case study. How did you see this?"

You will notice there are no judgement statements, like you should have presented the case study, the observable facts are presented and then the team member is asked for their perspective.

I share this example to demonstrate what we mean by observable behaviour, it is agreed actions and behaviour that can be externally observed without any judgement or interpretation required.

When you record what is said, you can add more subtle observable behaviour, such the specific terminology, language and tone used, as both parties can review exactly what was said.

It is therefore important when creating a practice scenario to communicate the exact behaviour you wish to observe from all participants and to share this with them so that they can not only prepare following the guide lines you provide but also they understand your expectations.

When you have clearly defined these behaviours, this provides a solid basis to provide feedback in an objective manner requesting their perspective before creating a joint action plan.

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Summary
Practice, feedback and coaching is possible within organisations with large remote teams. It requires managers and coaches to think how to create short relevant situational scenarios for their teams to respond to, that they can share with their manager and peer for review and best practice sharing.

This new approach to learning helps remote teams members assimilate training they attended with the context of their every day lives. It enables them to practice and improve through a feedback loop with manager and peers. For the manager it enables them to engage in qualitative as well as quantitative feedback and improve consistency of team performance.