Bookstores are full of books on the topic of leadership. Every day you can find a seminar or two devoted to the topic. Is being a great leader really all that important?
YES! Supervision and leadership are among the most important roles in the call center environment. Think about a recent magazine advertisement tag line: “Agents don’t leave their job, they leave their supervisors.” Doing the job well impacts morale, customer service, costs, workflow, retention, and the break room gossip!
Here are twelve steps to help you and your fellow leaders do the job well.
1. Listen to your associates.
Be available and accessible. Make time to hear what they have on their minds—without interrupting. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Listen to the answers.
2. Show your appreciation.
Even if you’re not the warm and fuzzy type, there are a variety of ways to let your associates know you’re glad they’re around. Ask their opinions. Acknowledge the little things. Treat them like real and valued contributors.
3. Spend time out of your office.
Make a commitment to be out of your office 50% of your time in the workplace, walking the floor. Listen to the trials of calls, and the frustrations caused from workflow kinks. Let your associates know you’re there for them. And do something about what you see and hear!
4. Lead by example.
The “do as I say, not as I do” approach never really works. How you speak with your associates is how they’ll speak with your customers. Take every opportunity to position information positively with a “can do” attitude.
5. It’s okay to make mistakes.
Associates will make mistakes, and so will you. When you mess up, say so. And say you’re sorry if you’ve personally made a mistake. Allow associates to find ways to do better next time.
6. You’re not perfect either. Admit it!
Associates need to know that you’ve dealt with situations like theirs, and even made wrong choices. Share the lesson learned to spare the pain.
7. Set limits. Then stick to them.
Set clear limits. Make sure associates understand the rules and the consequences if they don’t follow them. And follow through!
8. Avoid blame or dredging up the past.
Concentrate on what do to here and now to fix a problem, and how to do it better tomorrow. The past is history.
9. Be sincere and clear when providing feedback.
Discounting associates verbally, especially in front of others, will cause them to fear and disrespect you. When offering constructive feedback, make sure you are in a semi-private area, and that your feedback includes ways to change the behavior positively.
10. Discuss problems. Don’t deny them.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking a problem doesn’t exist or will go away by itself. It won’t. You have to face facts, talk through impact of the issues, and work together to find solutions.
11. Say “please” and “thank-you.”
These two simple words show associates that you respect them. Respect is something we must give in order to get.
12. Keep trying.
Don’t give up. Begin each day by renewing your commitment to serve your associates and help them grow in their own right. One day you’ll realize you’ve created leaders to follow in your footsteps, and you’ll be glad you did.
Did these leadership lessons resonate for you?
About the author: Anne G. Nickerson
For 25 years, Anne has been developing the potential of people through organizational design, executive coaching and management development activities. She is the principal founder of Call Center Coach, LLC, and Partners in Development, LLC and is a widely recognized contact center consultant, author, speaker, and coach. You can contact Anne at: firstname.lastname@example.org.