Remote Coaching Methodologies by Demographics.
Since a remote workforce is off-site, coaching team members increases in importance geometrically. The question, therefore, becomes not if to coach your team but how to go about coaching your team. In this article, I use characters from one of my favorite movies to illustrate how to coach team members in different demographic groups.
Freedonia Sporting Goods’ mission is to provide low-cost sporting equipment to the community; its vision is that everyone has the opportunity to play. The company’s target market is low-end department stores such as Wal-Mart and Target. The business strategy that they use to market their products, therefore, is a low price strategy. The sales department’s pay structure is a base salary with a quarterly bonus for individual production and a bonus based on the sales group’s output.
Rufus T. Firefly is the sales manager for the company’s Bocce Ball Division, running a department of twenty salespeople, two of them being highly producing employees, Pinky and Chicolini. Pinky, a 55-year-old salesperson, has worked for Freedonia for 17 years with a strong sales record bringing on several new clients who generally stay with the company for many years. Chicolini is a 23-year-old programmer who has graduated from Stanford a year prior and has many great sales ideas, and has a methodology some have called unique.
Sales at Freedonia have been flat for several months, and Firefly is under pressure from management to increase sales. Hence, he wants to coach these employees to take their sales up to the next level. Although the essential technique to motivate these workers would be the same, adjustments in the methodology would be needed per demographics. However, it must be cautioned that demographic information should not be used to stereotype these two workers (Macon & Artley, 2009).
They are both individuals, and demographic research is no substitute for sitting down with the workers and finding out their values through personal conversation. It is essential to not have the field of demographics be used to stereotype. The key to any coaching is to listen to what is occurring in the person being coached universe. What is happening in Chicolini’s and Pinky’s universe is partially a function of their demographics.
There are four generations in the workplace; The Traditionals, The Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials. Pinky is a Boomer. Baby boomers did not grow up with technology and can sometimes be overwhelmed. Being a senior salesman, Pinky commands respect from his co-workers, who generally will go to him for mentoring and advice.
Boomers are known to be very idealistic and can achieve greater if this sense of idealism is tapped into (Macon, & Artley, 2009). Generally, they prefer face-to-face or telephone communications over electronic style communications such as texting and e-mailing (Macon, & Artley, 2009). They are known to be team players who are great at consensus building but can be perceived as micromanagers who think others are lazy (Macon, & Artley, 2009).
Chicolini is a member of the millennial generation, sometimes called Generation Y. The millennials are characterized by their familiarity with high tech; they are much more comfortable with electronic communications (Macon, & Artley, 2009). They are optimistic multitaskers, demand instant feedback work well together in groups (Macon, & Artley, 2009). They are, however, perceived as being poorly read and as having no context due to insufficient knowledge of history. Although Chicolini has excellent problem-solving and communications skills, he is often perceived due to his age. This can be pretty frustrating to Chicolini.
The model for building a performance strategy is to:
1) develop a strategic plan
2) write the requirements document
3) write the operations plan,
4) write the performance plan and scorecard (Harbour, 2009).
When building a performance strategy, it is imperative to balance several different factors (Harbour, 2009). Demographic differences need to be balanced. Chicolini and Pinky are of different generations; therefore, the manager would need to take these Demographic factors into account when giving these two employees coaching to achieve the company’s strategy. The system, however, would be the same. There would just be slightly different tactics to execute that strategy; thus, the difference would be in the tactical planning (Chapter TWO: The Strategic Business Plan – Tactical Section, 2004). The difference in tactics would come into play in the performance plan and scorecard (Harbour, 2009).
Being a baby boomer, Pinky has a very high sense of purpose. A coach would best motivate Pinky by letting him know how much Freedonia helps the community by providing affordable sporting goods. Because of the sales team’s hard work, kids play Bocce Ball rather than join street gangs. Firefly will want to provide “face time” for Pinky to discuss sales difficulties with someone. (Macon & Artley, 2009).
Face-to-face training, where Pinky is in a classroom, can ask the instructor questions, and interact with the other students would be best (Macon, & Artley, 2009). The training may include modules on leading without micromanaging and dealing with people of the younger generation. Firefly should also have weekly meetings with Pinky to discuss his goals and any issues he may have in attaining those goals. Firefly also may want to have Pinky mentor some of the workers of the younger generations. Non-monetary rewards could include donating to charities on Pinky’s behalf.
Motivating Chicolini, on the other hand, would be slightly different. Millennials tend to work well in groups and are highly optimistic, so Firefly may want to stress group goals to Chicolini rather than personal goals. (Macon & Artley, 2009). As he is of the millennial generation and is comfortable with technology, Firefly may want to set up webinars to train Chicolini on aspects of his job and work as a part of a work team to do webinars rather than face to face seminars.
Firefly may even want to throw in a webinar or two about working with others of different generations, such as Pinky. Electronic methodology such as e-mail and surveys can be set up to get the instant feedback that a Millennial would crave (Macon & Artley, 2009). Firefly would also want to make the work environment fun for Chicolini and the other Millennials on the team, rewarding production with fun things to do like movies and sporting events.
An organization must have a strategy, the implementation of which includes a performance plan and a performance scorecard (Harbour, 2009). Although the strategic plan is for the whole organization to implement the plan, tactics must be adjusted to implement it among the individual team members. Team members include members of four different generations, the traditional, the baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. The tactical plan would need to be adjusted for these generational factors.
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Chapter TWO: The Strategic Business Plan – Tactical Section. (2004). Successful Business Planning (pp. 43-95). Thorogood Publishing Ltd.
Harbour, J. (2009). Integrated performance management: A conceptual, system-based model. Performance Improvement, 48(7), 10-14.
Macon M Artley J B 2009 Can’t we all just get along? A review of the challenges and opportunities in a multigenerational workforce.Macon, M., & Artley, J. B. (2009). Can’t we all just get along? A review of the challenges and opportunities in a multigenerational workforce. International Journal of Business Research, 9(6), 90-94.
McDonald P 200806 Multigenerational Workforce.McDonald P 200806 Multigenerational Workforce.McDonald, P. (2008, Oct). The Multigenerational Workforce. The Internal Auditor,,.