Investigating a corporate coaching event: Focusing on collaborative reflective practice and the use of displayed emotions to enhance the supervisory coaching process

Patricia Ottilie Wachholz, University of Pennsylvania


The purpose of this study was to investigate one aspect of a service company's job-specific organizational training process. The performance management component under investigation was the coaching session between the supervisor and the telesales agent, which is based on a series of monitored and audiotaped phone calls with clients. The intervention was the use of videotaping consecutive coaching sessions. Each videotaped coaching session had as its centerpiece a series of recent audiotapes. These agent/client conversations on inbound-sales calls were monitored by the supervisor, who listened for specific skills as evidenced by the agent. In the coaching session based on these tapes, role playing was utilized which enabled the agent not only to simulate the specific skills to be used in live on-the-job telesales calls, but also to reflect on their use of language and to evaluate their phone technique. Subsequent coaching sessions in this process were videotaped following this practice to assess application of skills. The company's interest in productivity was addressed by the framing question of the research, “When supervisors and agents of service company engage in collaborative reflective practice focused on the language used with clients, how does agent use of language change and does this change have an impact on productivity?” The subquestions include: What is the nature of the changes in the agents' language in subsequent coaching events, including the display of positive emotion? What changes in productivity occur in real-time phone calls with actual clients over the same period? The primary focus of the investigation was the introduction of the variable of collaborative reflective practice. In this collaboration, the supervisor, agent and researcher engaged in analyzing the added dimension of the videotape, with the objective of improving telephone technique. Particular attention was paid to the nature of the transactions between participants. This exploratory study utilized two in-depth case studies with one supervisor and two agents. Changes in the way participants used language, specifically the display of positive emotion were documented. Implications resulting from the research noted that the use of positive emotion in coaching sessions transferred to conversations with actual clients as demonstrated on audiotapes. The research method of this inquiry was a participant observational field study. Data collection utilized field study techniques. Through rich description of the language of the coaching events and observation over a year and a half, changes in behavior were noted indicating improvement in communication between supervisor and agent and in turn, agent and client. Also included in the multiple sources of evidence were ongoing call data for each agent, which tracked statistics including sales outcomes. This outcome data for the agents involved in the case studies, indicated improved productivity and suggests that videotaping of coaching sessions be recommended as an ongoing component of the coaching process. Others working toward changing the qualitative nature of the coaching and learning process will hopefully gain insights from the research findings and use them to continue the dialogue.

Subject Area

Vocational education|Business education

Recommended Citation

Wachholz, Patricia Ottilie, "Investigating a corporate coaching event: Focusing on collaborative reflective practice and the use of displayed emotions to enhance the supervisory coaching process" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9963099.