Marc Carriere shares insights on what to watch out for with new hires.
Being on the front line as a call centre operator can be a really challenging when you consider the amount of rejection they can face in a sales environment or dealing with irate customers providing customer service throughout their day.
Add to this little to no real coaching or support, and all for a low hourly rate, it’s not surprising many call centres experience low staff retention rates, leading to a lot of hiring and training new staff every month.
Over the past 35 years I’ve been involved in recruiting and training a multitude of operators and found there are certain red flags you need to look out for with new hires during induction training and the first few weeks of employment that indicate there may be trouble ahead.
When you see these red flags flapping, you need to take action as early as possible to get new hires on the right path, or at the very least be aware you may have a problem child on your hands that you should speak with your manager about and decide if they are a good fit for the team or not.
Here are 10 red flags (in no particular order) you need to watch out for:
1. Not Asking Any Questions
Typically, most new team members who are engaged with their job and want to do well will ask lots of questions about the company, product and how to do their job.
Even those new hires who are engaged and have worked with another company in the same industry will ask a lot of questions. If they don’t, you have to wonder why.
2. Not Taking Their Training Seriously by Not Following Instructions or Paying Attention
Many may think they know it all and don’t have to really pay too much attention because they already get it.
You see this behaviour with people constantly texting or having too much fun speaking with their neighbours, and you end up asking yourself how serious they are about the job.
Sometimes you see this behaviour from new hires who have worked for another company in the same industry. Many think they know it all and don’t have to really pay too much attention because they already get it.
In those cases you should remind them that it’s what they learn after they think they know it all that really counts!
For information on how to measure the engagement of your employees, read our article: How to Calculate an Employee Engagement Score
3. Being Late for Training, Shift Times or Coming Back Late From Breaks
Now, it might just be that your new hire is having a problem getting to work on time for a particular reason, not that they don’t care about being on time, or they’re just lousy at getting organized.
If you see them coming in late for a couple of days, and this is the only red flag you’re seeing, take them aside during a break to ask why they’re having a problem being on time.
You may find they’re simply having trouble with a bus schedule or connections. And you might be able to fix the problem by introducing them to someone in the centre they can catch a ride to work with.
And, with breaks, it always amazes me how many people come back late from the first break on the first day of training with pretty much the same lame excuse!
When this happens, I usually stop the group and tell everyone that being late for work, whether that’s coming in for training or their shift or coming back from breaks, is unacceptable.
I point out being late without a good reason is disruptive to the group and disrespectful of everyone there. And it’s their responsibility to be back in their chair before the break ends.
If they need to do something during their break that’s family or work related that may cause them to be late, they need to mention this to their team leader or trainer so they are aware of the possibility.
To find out how to manage schedule adherence in the contact centre, read our article: How to Manage and Improve Schedule Adherence
4. Negativity or Complaining
If you see any unwarranted negativity or bad mouthing a former employer or job, this is an immediate red flag.
Negativity has no place in your team and has the potential to infect everyone, so you need to keep a lookout for any signs of unwarranted negativity and deal with it immediately.
If they continue with this behaviour, you need to move them on quickly before they hurt the morale of the team.
5. Lying or Overly Embellishing
Any hint of lying is a good reason to keep a close eye on them and monitor their calls in the early stages of their employment.
No one likes lying or at the very least overly embellishing the truth.
If you catch them out in a lie or they embellish the truth too much with you, they are capable of lying or playing loose with the truth while on the job.
Any hint of lying is a good reason to keep a close eye on them and monitor their calls in the early stages of their employment, and if you catch them out again, you should consider letting them go immediately.
6. Not Listening
It’s easy for a new hire to get overwhelmed during their training and in the first few weeks of performing their jobs, which can directly affect their listening skills.
But if a new hire doesn’t listen during training, will they be able to listen when they are working?
7. Only Focused on Pay and Benefits
When a new hire only talks about their pay and staff benefits too often in the early stages of their time at the company, you should immediately be wary. You don’t want people on the team who are only interested the money.
You want people who can be passionate about the job and the company.
To find out how to identify agents who are not passionate about the company, read our article: 5 Signs Your Agents Don’t Care
8. Poor Communication Skills
The ability to communicate is a huge part of any call centre job. Obviously, they should have been screened to make sure they can speak well during the interview process.
However, if they are poor at returning emails, are missing scheduled phone calls or are unclear when communicating with customers and team members, this is clearly a bad sign.
9. Inability to Follow Directions
If a new hire continuously misses steps or disregards directions from their team leaders, you need to watch this very carefully.
This is something you need to correct very early, and if things don’t improve quickly, you should move them on.
10. Unprofessional Appearance
When a new hire shows up disheveled, dressed unprofessionally or reeking of alcohol you need to immediately reassess their ability to be a professional in the workplace.
If they can’t pull it together when they just got a new job, they probably won’t be able to do so in the long term.
If someone isn’t a good fit for the team or the call centre generally, it’s best to deal with it early on, even if that means having to let them go.
These are common red flags call centre managers and team leaders need to be on the lookout for during induction training and in the first few weeks of a new hire’s employment.
If any of these behaviours come up, they need to get straightened out straight away before these behaviours cause damage to the team.
Frankly, if someone isn’t a good fit for the team or the call centre generally, it’s best to deal with it early on, even if that means having to let them go, rather than risk bringing someone on board who just doesn’t share the same values as the rest of the team.
Marc runs a workshop for developing team leaders. To find out more check out Marc’s free online workshop.
For more tips and advice from Marc Carriere, read our articles: