Stay Curious - Meet the ASU Success Coach


Meet the Success Coach: Lynn Bagnall


What does it take to be an effective success coach? According to Success Coach Lead Lynn Bagnall, the job requires an innate curiosity about other people combined with the ability to ask probing questions.

“People have a natural tendency to talk about themselves, but with this job you need to hold back and instead work on understanding more about the other person,” she explains. “It may sound easy, but in reality it can be difficult to integrate new ways of talking into your conversations.”

Lynn is responsible for guiding her group of success coaches to continually grow in the quality of their coaching conversations. That means collaborating daily with her six fellow Success Coach Leads to interview and hire the right staff members; create processes for operating more efficiently; collect feedback for technology improvements; listen to calls; and attend trainings to make sure her own skills are improving.

“I attended four weeks of training that focused on techniques and strategies,” she says. “It was a bonding experience and by the end of it, our team knew one another’s strengths. As a result, the culture has become very collaborative and fun, with a solid commitment to student success.”

Prior to joining ASU Online, Lynn spent more than 20 years in the education field, serving as a secondary and elementary teacher for the Tucson and Mesa Public School districts. She also worked within the student services and operations division at the University of Phoenix. It was ASU’s reputation for excellence that first attracted her to the role of Success Coach Lead.

“The university has become an outstanding leader in access to education,” she says. “I’m continuing on with what I did at the University of Phoenix, but at a whole new level. I’ve always worked with counselors who never had time to provide this type of coaching because they were doing transactional things that took a lot of time and energy. Our students are thrilled to have a success coach — they are eager to learn more about how they can help them achieve their goals.”

As she has become more immersed in the world of online learning, Lynn has seen student attitudes transform from that of wariness to can’t-live-without-it enthusiasm.

“Increasingly, students can’t imagine having to attend class in a physical location,” she says. “They love being able to go to class without having to navigate crowded freeways, deal with parking or make constant changes to their personal schedule.”

Of course, there are also plenty of challenges, as students have to be self-motivated every day to accomplish the tasks and coursework that will enable them to achieve their personal dreams — a feat that is easier said than done without the physical presence of faculty members and fellow students. For Lynn, this is where success coaching can make the biggest difference.

“We help students set academic goals, no matter how big or how small,” she says. “But we can also facilitate their individual connection to ASU so that they feel like they are an important part of Sun Devil Nation.”

It all comes back to building trust by being a good listener — and following the 80/20 rule.

“A coach should only be doing 20 percent of the talking,” she says. “They need to ask open-ended questions so that students can’t just say yes or no, and should be prepared with follow-up questions related to the students’ answers. It takes a lot of thought to really listen and delve deeper into what a student tells you. It’s a continual skill to work on.”

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