Creating a motivating environment for each agent is one of the supervisor’s most important jobs. Most everyone is motivated by something. Your goal as a supervisor is to figure out what that “something” is and provide it. What motivates one person may not mean anything to someone else on the same team. Part of the tough job you have as a supervisor is to figure out what the individual things are that motivate each person on your team. For some people it will be the team concept – the feeling of belonging. For others, it will be the relationship with the supervisor. For others, it will be the tangible rewards. Here are six techniques for creating a motivating environment in the call center:
- Guidance and Support
- Sense of Belonging
- Development and Challenge
Guidance and Support
So what can you do to guide and support? The first thing is just to LISTEN. You simply have to spend time with each person and get to know them. Learn about them, their families, their activities, their ideas about the job, etc. They need to know you care. You also need to spend time clarifying needs and expectations. It’s only fair that each person understand work expectations and what will happen if met (rewards) or not (discipline). You need to spend time providing feedback and coaching on a regular basis. Don’t limit this to a twice a month, regularly scheduled coaching session, but a daily “drop by” visit for a few minutes…sometimes just to chat, and sometimes for a quick “on the fly” coaching session. Lastly, be a role model – someone they know they can trust and turn to as a model of performance.
Recognition is one of the most effective ways to reinforce the call center’s culture, support its objectives, and retain top performers. As a supervisor, you should provide recognition for improvements along the way, for initiatives, as well as recognition for results. The goal is to recognize desired behavior so it will be repeated. Recognition can be given for perfect attendance, volunteering for a tough assignment, helping others meet their goals, cost or time-saving suggestions, or going above and beyond for a customer.
Recognition should be provided “on the spot” and should be in verbal and written form. The supervisor should create a mix of both public and “one-on-one” recognition strategies and encourage agents to recognize their peers. One way to do this might be to create a recognition box and fill it with sticky notes, smiley faces, gold stars, and other stickers for all employees to use. Take a moment and make a list of all the people on your team and others you reply on for support. When was the last time you gave recognition to each person for a job well done? If you can’t remember the last time you recognized or praised most of the people on your list, you’re probably not doing it enough.
Rewarded behavior is repeated behavior. Rewards should be unique and relevant to the participants, so they fulfill their need for acceptance, recognition, and personal esteem. The key is in understanding what each person would like best. While some would prefer cash, some would relish tickets to a concert or sporting event. Others would more appreciate a health club membership. Others might like the chance to develop more skills and prefer a seminar.
Some centers use “time with” as a reward. Lunch with the director of the center, or even dinner or lunch with a higher level of senior management is another possibility. Some people would look forward to this while others would dread the moment. Pick of schedule is a popular choice. People will definitely change performance if their schedule pick is at risk.
Other centers have the rewarded agent change jobs with the supervisor for the day or even a few hours. Common rewards also involve the supervisor performing some task for the employee – bringing them lunch, washing their car, etc.
Sense of Belonging
When people work well together, they have a sense of belonging and are more likely to stay motivated and be happy in their job. When supervisors build a team structure, the team members assume responsibility, creativity and potential are recognized and fostered, trust and camaraderie develops.
Most supervisors use competition between teams to build effectiveness and efficiency. Competition should be positive, free of ridicule, and non-threatening. The competition should optimize the number of rewards by providing rewards for both outstanding and improved performance. The criteria and standards used for competition should be based on the performance goals each team is expected to meet.
When designing the competition, involve the agents in the evaluation process. Have them play a key role in establishing the competition and rules. Be sure to set up individual and team challenges and to give awards to the winning team and individuals. Competition brings team members together for a common goal, provides a sense of belonging, and creates a spirit of cooperation.
Development and Challenge
One of the ways to motivate agents is to provide growth opportunities and create a learning environment. In addition to traditional training classes, there are other methods to provide development opportunities. Look for ways to combine tasks and form teams for new projects. Think about rotating assignments – and while this may sound like chaos, if you let the staff figure out how to trade and cover responsibilities, they may surprise you.
Part of development is providing plenty of feedback – both positive and negative. Help motivate and shape behavior with feedback and encouragement on a regular basis. Don’t assume everyone should be on the same learning path. Develop an individualized learning plan based on strengths, talents, and desires and set individual goals. When those development goals are reached, reward and move to next step.
You can have fun and still maintain a professional work environment. Games are a great way to have fun in the call center. With games, the idea is to involve all of the employees. Some call centers plan games to introduce new employees to the team to help them feel more comfortable and to “gently” introduce them to other team members.
Games can also be an excellent way to review policies or procedures, or to ensure that each team member knows the latest revisions to a new product line. One call center used a scavenger hunt for new employees to find objects in the call center such as getting the monitoring form from the QA person, talking to the workforce management analyst about schedules, etc. Using games can also help lighten stressful situations. It’s not unusual for a call center to have a game, just to have fun.
A fun-loving workplace generates enthusiasm among the agents and teams, and the end result is increased productivity, and better service for the customer.
Deelee Freeman is the Founder and Director of Call Center Training Associates, providing training and consulting services for call centers. For more information, visit www.callcentertrainingassociates.com. Deelee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
QATC members can learn more from Deelee by registering for the 2021 Fundamentals of Quality Monitoring web seminar series at no charge! The 5-part quality web seminars delivered by industry expert Deelee Freeman of Call Center Training Associates will be offered once a month starting in March. Each 60-minute session will provide practical knowledge to help you design your quality monitoring forms and develop a comprehensive quality monitoring program.
For more information or to register for these web seminars, please go to https://qatc.org/fundamentals-of-quality-monitoring-web-seminar-series/.