Lessons Learned Growing Up In a Call Center-Call Center Management
Blog post on Call Center Management written by Expivia CEO Thomas Laird
Being young, having a Type A personality and being put in-charge of many people can be a recipe for disaster especially in call center management! Many years ago In my mid 20’s I had progressed my way up in the Call Center that I was working at to the job of being the AM Production Coordinator(15 supervisors and 150 agents). My duties were to make sure that the AM shift met all of its qualitative and quantitative goals for both the clients we worked for and the company.
Not soon after taking the position, my shift, which had always outperformed the PM guys, started to fall back. Our quality scores were dropping, I was having more and more issues on the floor with associates and we were becoming less profitable.
HOW CAN THIS BE! I thought. Management was easy!!!, all you have to do is make sure no one is screwing up and if they were you write them up! Call Center Management 101 right? Huge mistake.
One morning I was called up to my boss’s office where we had a talk about what was going on. I told her I was doing everything right. When someone had a bad monitoring score they were written up, if they were down in sales we put them on corrective action.
She did not care one bit about any of that. She simply said to me, “Do the people on the floor TRUST you?”
I said absolutely! There was no doubt in my very green mind and using my “proactive” management style that I was trusted by everyone. She then asked me to define TRUST. I thought about this for a couple seconds…
MY DEFINITION: Trust means you don’t lie to people. You are honest and trustworthy. (It’s never good to use most of the word in the definition)
She was very kind and said; YES that is part of it, but a very small part. She told me how over the years she had found that:
TRUST = CHARACTER + COMPETENCE + MOTIVATION
She told me this was not the end all be all to fix all management issues instantly but a guideline for constant management growth. When you are trusted as a manager you can get people not only to do amazing things; but even more importantly do the routine jobs exceptionally well.
What she said next really made me think.
She told me there is another word that I could substitute for trust. This is a word that is really the pinnacle of management. The word you really want to be used to describe you as a person in business. She told me to let her know when she thought I figured out what that word was. This really puzzled me. WHAT WAS IT!!!
I took some time and thought about all of this. This is what I have come up with over the past couple years of thinking about this new “management equation”.
There is so much that this entails that it really is a lifelong progression with no true ending point. It starts when you are very young in a management position with the basics of making sure you are on time, dressed appropriately and care about doing a good job. As you get more experienced it gets more complex. You turn from looking out for yourself to developing and looking out for those that work for you. It’s much more than not backstabbing, not using bad language or not lying, all things we associate with character. It boils down to doing the right thing for those around you no matter how tough it may be.
Being competent in your job is vital. So many managers equate competence to knowing more than everyone. They think it is about being the smartest person in the room; in fact it’s probably more the opposite of that.
In its truest form Competence is the ability to make more good decisions than bad ones.
It’s putting in the time and effort, listening to your team, taking suggestions and putting together the best answer to a solution. When I first started my Type A personality felt threatened when someone else had an idea no matter how good it was! I had a lot to learn.
This is VITAL. Now I understand it is not everyone’s personality to rah rah and high five people. That’s ok. All this really means is that you need to be POSITIVE in dealing with people. You need be a more of a positive influence than a negative one.
This does not mean that if you are taking some kind of corrective action (I hate that term by the way) that you need to have two nice things for every “negative” thing you say to them. That ridiculous in my mind, every situation is different and I’m not going to make up nice things to say if they are not warranted at that time. I believe that weakens your message
What I am saying is that if you asked yourself :
Would my employees truly think I am a positive person, one that motivates more than demeans, one that lifts a room more then makes people uncomfortable.
Take that personal test right now. You may be surprised what your inner-self says.
THAT DARN WORD!!
While the above has taken me some years to reflect upon, it took me a couple weeks to realize what the word that I could use as a substitute for trust that is the pinnacle word that my boss had asked me about. It embarrasses me to say it took as long as it did. It should have come to me right away! It really shows how far off track I was at this time in my management life.
I walked up to her office, knocked on the door, opened it and said one word to her…RESPECT. She smiled and said “That’s the word”…thats call center management.
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