Efficient call center management revolves around creating an environment that motivates your agents and leadership team on a long-term basis.
The cliché pizza lunch or the box of donuts place strategically next to the coffee machine has a short shelf life when it comes to an agent’s motivational health. Applying band-aid solutions, while at time necessary, resembles a hamster running in their exercise wheel. Revisiting issues caused by low agent motivation, whether it’s high turnover rate, low productivity, absenteeism, etc.… becomes part of your daily routine distracting you from the bigger picture. Motivating your agents for the long-term is a wise investment of your time that will inevitably free up time for you and your leadership team to focus on developing your agents to their fullest potential.
Here are 16 suggestions I believe are catalyst for creating long-term agent motivation:
- Develop a “servant leader” attitude. Be there for your people rather than have them there for you. Adopt this attitude and you will far ahead of the vast majority of call center managers when it comes to having a call center populated by agents who are engaged in their work, which is why I’ve listed this first.
- Create a clear vision. Identify your organization’s mission and goals, and make sure all your agents understand the rationale behind them and how they contribute to achieving them. This should be part of your on-boarding of new agents (day one). Your company’s mission statement should be clearly posted in your call center for all your agents to see.
- Clearly communicate your call center’s objective. Solicit input from your agents on what they can do to achieve them. During the interview process is the time to discuss the reason for your call center’s existence and its objectives.
- Compliment each of your direct reports on a weekly basis. Walk your call center and openly give your direct reports recognition for results, achievements and their effort. Praise in front of peers not only motivates, it informs those agents who overhear your praise what you value.
- Make agent development and retention a primary objective for yourself and your leadership team. Build into your leadership team bonus structure a portion that rewards for retention and agent development.
- Ask agents for advice where they have expertise.
- Involve everyone at all levels in the goal setting and planning processes. If your leadership team / agents are responsible for the results they should have a say on how they would like to achieve them.
- Let your agents know what is expected of them. This should have been clearly outlined in the job posting, the agent’s job description and discussed at length during the initial interview. Do everything you can to make them successful.
- Treat everyone with dignity and respect. There’s a lot of wisdom in the adage, “Treat others how you wish to be treated.”
- Stand behind your managers, supervisors, and agents and back their decisions. Your team knowing you have their back will be reciprocated many times over as they will willingly go the extra-mile for you.
- Show the courage to let your staff learn from their mistakes. Unless your call center deals with life and death allowing mistakes (learning opportunities) results in a workplace that has quite a few degrees of less stress.
- Take the time to listen carefully to other people’s interests, opinions, concerns and goals. We all want to be heard, be that manager who listens and empathizes.
- Regularly meet individually with your direct reports. Help them clarify their personal goals and values; and assist them in identifying the skills they need to achieve their goals.
- Find ways to enrich the scope of responsibility your agents have. By increasing their authority / span of control you are showing trust in their abilities. An add benefit of allowing your agents to make decisions on their own without having to seek a manager’s approval is it frees up your time, as well your leadership team’s, to coach and mentor, which is where the greatest productivity gain is t be realized.
- Have a built in incentive program. An incentive program that rewards behavior and individual results is a must. I’m not talking about the “one of” incentives where the agents who books the most appointments gets an hour for lunch, I’m talking about an incentive program that is tied into the agent’s compensation (paid out monthly) and is outlined during the initial interview. A well designed incentive program rewards for individual effort / results. Knowing our efforts will be rewarded speaks to the core of motivational psychology.
- Encourage everyone to expand his or her comfort zone. Feeling uncomfortable makes you feel alive. In most cases as the person is traveling their learning curve they are expanding their skill-set and therefore value. Eventually the “uncomfortable” become “comfortable” and growth has taken place. Give recognition to that person’s growth and they’ll want to continue growing. Growth opportunity is the highest motivator I know of.
What suggestions do you have for achieving long-term agent motivation in your call center? What has worked for you?