Glendon Evarts shares five practical strategies to help you empower your contact centre agents.
If, as contact centre managers, we are great leaders, inspirers, and promote empowerment, we can retain and develop our staff into inspiring leaders themselves, or, at the very least, we can set them off into the world with a wealth of knowledge and experience that they didn’t previously have.
So, how can we best do this? How do we maximise the potential of the staff? By empowering them!
In my opinion, you get the most out of your staff by empowering them to be creative, come up with solutions and have input on business decisions.
There are a few ways I know how to do this, and so far they have worked well for me:
1. Stop using ‘sandwich feedback’
I will let you in on a little secret, if you use, or have had anyone tell you to use, sandwich feedback, STOP!
Sandwich feedback is used when a manager cannot be bothered to structure and plan an effective coaching session.
It is a cop-out and it is unproductive.
[Sandwich feedback is where you “sandwich” bad feedback between 2 parts of good feedback – Editor]
2. Planned and effective GROW coaching
GROW coaching is a framework that is pretty much foolproof, but only when used correctly:
- Goal: Identify the goal of the coaching session and the personal goals of the coachee.
- Reality: Identify what is currently happening that is stopping them from achieving those goals.
- Options: Through an open discussion, ask the coachee to come up with different options and solutions that can be implemented in order for them to change the behaviour and achieve the desired goal(s).
- Will: Get the coachee to choose the most appropriate option for them, ask them if it is viable and ask them if they feel as though they can implement it. Given they were the one to come up with it, they of course must believe it is possible.
The magic of GROW coaching is this: the person being coached is empowered by being given the freedom to come up with a solution and implement it. It also means that they cannot disagree with the solution or argue that it is not suitable for them.
3. Ask don’t tell
Telling people what to do and how to fix problems does not empower them.
Asking them what they could do better or different next time, discussing options and implementing them, will help them see that they have the answers; they just first need the right guidance.
4. Involve the team in big decisions
Sometimes, it can be tough to make big decisions within a call centre environment. Shift changes, legal requirements, incentive changes, etc. Regardless of what it is, if a decision has to be made, you may as well get the input of the people that it will affect most.
Present the problem and ask them for a solution that will best suit them. Even if the end solution isn’t ideal, at least they have been consulted and had some input on the final outcome.
Picking the better of two unfortunate situations is better than not being able to pick at all. It will also show the team you genuinely care for both their well-being and the job.
5. Let people make mistakes
Even if you know their decisions may be wrong, so long as it’s not detrimental to the business, let them make mistakes and follow up with a discussion on what went wrong and what could have been done differently.
I have learnt some of my greatest lessons by experiencing the repercussions of my mistakes, and due to this, I am much less likely to make the same mistakes again.
Empowerment comes from involvement. It comes from asking instead of telling, it’s leading versus managing and it’s the best possible way to allow your staff to experience new things and develop their own abilities.
Think of your business as a farm for talent; develop and grow your talent to the best of your ability, then promote from within or let them go and take those experiences you have given them and apply them in their dream job.
With thanks to Glendon Evarts, who has spent the last 7 years working as a call centre manager and prides himself on his ability to develop people.