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Issue Date: September 2007

Soothing friction

1 September 2007

The question I am addressing is: “There is continuous friction between my CRM people and my technical experts; my clients are starting to pick this up – in what way can coaching help?”
As I am sure you know, coaching happens in conversation. Usually the person being coached does more of the talking than the coach. Addressing in a coaching style, the questions posed in this column, without the opportunity for dialogue means I do not have access to the wealth of knowledge you have of your own situation.
So my first question to you is to stimulate your thinking about what happens in your team: "Are there situations in which these relationships between CRM and technical people are less of a problem? Perhaps between certain technical and CRM individuals or in certain circumstances there is less friction. What is it about these situations that make them exceptions to the trend? These situations (even if very subtle) provide the clues and keys to the solution. How can you encourage your CRM and technical people to build on these small successes?
Coaching can help at an individual and team level to build a vision for the customer experience that can be equally shared by technical and CRM people. Intrinsic motivators may differ greatly so creating a compelling shared outcome that will impact the whole team is vital. Rewarding those that contribute to the realisation of that vision reinforces the motivation.
It is common practice for people to judge others according to their own areas of strength rather than appreciating others for their own unique strengths, and this is often where conflict arises. Usually technical and CRM people have different strengths and are motivated differently. Coaching to raise an individual's awareness and appreciation of their own natural talents and what motivates them will trigger their awareness of others and the unique talents and values others bring. Raised self-awareness also leads individuals to be more conscious of their behaviour, especially in relation to others.
Once you have a clear description of your desired customer experience, it would be useful to brainstorm with your whole team what activities need to happen for that experience to be a reality. As a team consider for each activity, what strengths are required and based on those strengths who could perform the activity. The purpose of this exercise is to create an awareness of the need for different talents and therefore different people. Together as a team consider what ideal performance would be like for each of the activities required to achieve the desired customer experience. You can then work with each individual with a clear definition of what performance they need to deliver and facilitate them to design steps to achieve that performance.
Following this process will highlight and give appreciation for the uniqueness of individuals in the CRM and technical teams. It will engender respect for other talents and therefore people and it will encourage individuals to behave in a way that is in alignment with both their own values and the company's needs.
My approach to answering questions:
Coaching stimulates thinking; helps you to view things from different angles. Coaching believes you know what is best for you and that you are the best person to structure your solution. As a coach I always work from the liberating stance that my client has the answer.
It is my intent to respond to the questions posed to me in a way that will support these principles and will facilitate the reader finding their best answer. My answer will stimulate your thinking, impacting your way of looking at yourself, at people and situations rather than providing the answer.
Mary Gardner
Mary Gardner
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