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Leading with Heart: Q&A with Coaching & Training Manager, Sonia Harrison


It was such a pleasure to do a little Q & A with our own Sonia Harrison, who is our Coaching and Training Manager here at Parker. She is in such a unique role, providing incredibly valuable services that benefit our clients, contingent workers and our internal team. She has found her true calling and serves from the heart – read on to learn more!


Parker: Thank you for being here, Sonia! Can you please introduce yourself?

SH: My name is Sonia Harrison. I’m the Coaching and Training Manager at Parker Staffing. I’ve been at Parker for a year and a half now, and I thoroughly enjoy and love my job!


Parker: Can you please share what brought you to Parker?

SH: In January of 2021, I was laid off from my previous employer. Throughout the time at my former job, I worked for an amazing Director (Jen Brown). Jen left the company to join Parker about a year before my departure, but we remained in constant contact. Jen was always a supportive and a source of inspiration. When the Parker position became available, she reached out to me to see if I was interested. In all our conversations, she spoke of how much she loved the Parker culture. I trusted her opinion and joined the team. I would say it’s one of the best employment decisions I have ever made.


Parker: That is so amazing to hear how you got here at Parker! For those who don’t know what your role entails, could you please share what a Coaching and Training Manager does?

SH: A Coaching and Training Manager encourages communication, allows people to look back on where they were, where they currently are and then motivates, redirects, and guides them to change behaviors. A Coaching and Training Manager also guides employees to self-correct their own behaviors. The purpose of the role helps to develop a confident workforce. It helps to identify if employees have the right skills to perform the job. For Parker, I feel like I’m a liaison between the company, the client, and the contingent worker. I’m touching all three with every interaction.


Parker: How does a Coaching and Training Manager provide support in the staffing arena? How would a staffing company benefit from having someone in this role?

SH: Recruiters have the role of driving revenue for the company, and the responsibility of coaching contingent workers is incredibly time consuming, so that’s where this role comes in. A Coaching and Training Manager enables recruiters to keep their focus on increasing revenue. The Coaching and Training Manager supports the retention of this revenue, and strengthens relationships with clients, resulting in growing the business. And when it’s necessary, a Coaching and Training Manager will handle terminations. Having a main source of contact also keeps consistency in how contingents are managed.


Parker: It sounds like a lot of what you do encompasses sharing feedback and ways in which the contingent can improve performance. I’m sure those conversations can be hard; how do you ensure what you have to say is well received?

SH: Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity no matter what the message is. I start with delivering the opportunity, ask for their understanding of what occurred, identifying if there are any discrepancies, followed by self-discovery to address the gap. When an employee repeats what occurred, the process of owning it begins. I recognize I’m just the deliverer of the message. If there’s a deviation from what they are saying to what the client is saying, I know the truth is somewhere in the middle. This is typically followed by the impact of their actions with expectations and that usually makes it digestible. I find that when the contractor becomes upset, it’s not because of what I’ve said but their denial to own their opportunity for growth. I know [in terminations] that somebody is losing their source of income, which also means somebody is not going to be able to pay their bills, so compassion is important.


Parker: How do you know if you are successful in your role?

SH: I track terminations, but the success is in the retention data shared by our leaders – they’ve identified that I have helped to retain employees, particularly with our larger clients through coaching intervention. I’ve measured the strength and trust of the relationship between Parker and the client to count on us to retain employment. In addition, I gauge my success through client feedback regarding my performance. I’ve received commendations on LinkedIn from clients for the work that we are doing, texts and emails from contractors with gratitude regarding how they were handled. My desire it to do the right things at the right time.


Parker: What is it that you love about being a Coaching and Training Manager?

SH: I love helping people and I don’t believe people come to work with an intent to fail. There’s a quote from Martin Luther King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” His actions were about how he could help others. There’s also a song that we sing, as a Christian, that says, “If I can help somebody, as I travel along. If I can help somebody with a word or a song. If I can help someone who is traveling wrong, then my living will not be made in vain.” When I say the words to the song, it’s the sentiments of my heart. To see a person change for the better from just a few words is why I love this role.


Parker: It sounds like you found your calling and what you are meant to do, I love hearing all of this. In case readers are interested, how does one become a Coaching and Training Manager? Is there a clear path to that role?

SH: Although there are many certifications that include communication courses, I was blessed to be trained for the role by my former employer. The training included courses on how to give feedback, documentation, develop action plans and how to gain commitment. I do believe anyone can be a Coaching and Training Manager if they have a heart for others to succeed, even at the risk of the person surpassing what they do. To me, this is not something that’s just a job, you’ve got to have the heart to see people succeed.


Parker: Is there anything else you would like to add?

SH: Coaching & Training can be a rewarding and yet a difficult job to manage.  A person must have the ability to address conflict, deliver undesirable messages and hold a person accountability to change.


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