Carolyn Blunt looks at how successfully motivating your agents comes down to simplicity and focusing on the smaller things.
It’s that time of the year again, when most of us have failed at all our New Year’s resolutions and now we are trying to get ourselves motivated for the months ahead. We are tired from a busy festive season, bored to be back in a routine, and glum because the weather is well – British, predictably grey, cold and wet. A perfect match for our mood. But we have a year ahead and we want it to be better than last year, so we know we have to somehow get motivated and get going. So why is it so hard some days?
I’ve a friend who runs an online business from home and has successfully done this for almost 15 years. When people meet her for the first time, they often ask: “Isn’t it hard working from home, being on your own all day? How do you stay motivated?” Her answer always surprises: “Peanut butter,” she says with a knowing smile. “Peanut butter?” they ask, confused. So she tells them: “Well, I like peanut butter sandwiches all right, but not enough to live off them every day, so every day must be spent productively earning, otherwise I’ll be having plain old peanut butter sandwiches for supper. It’s that simple.”
Now her answer may be a bit tongue in cheek; I know this because I know her well enough and she is simply one of the most self-motivated people I’ve ever come across. Peanut butter may have driven her in the early years, but she’s the type of person that loves to always be learning, always be exploring, always innovating. So I doubt that the peanut butter motivation is still what’s driving her today.
People tend to overthink things
Curious, I asked her: “Why do you stick to the peanut butter motivation story after all this time? Surely that isn’t still what keeps you motivated?” “No,” she replied, “but it keeps things in perspective. Employed people think it’s so hard to work for yourself and not have the security of a pay cheque at the end of the month. They think it has to do with personality, tenacity and business smarts. Certainly they have their place, but it’s simpler than that. People tend to overthink things, think that they need to have this mega idea or skill in order to be a success, when it’s really simple: Every day do the small things that will bring in an income and then you will have an income. It’ll give you a sense of accomplishment, and over time you’ll step up the corporate ladder because you are always learning.”
“Now I stay motivated because I love what I do and don’t want to be working for anyone else. I don’t think of working for myself as hard, I think of it as an absolute blessing. I can choose my projects, my clients and my work hours. I can take time off when needed and be entirely flexible in my work day.”
Let the tasks you do at work be linked to a personal purpose
You can hear it in her voice; there’s a passion underlying what she says. There’s no doubt she’s motivated and that’s why she’s been so successful. But can her simple philosophy really work for someone who works in, say, a call centre? Let’s consider a contact centre context:
“Do the small things every day that will earn you an income.” What this really means is don’t just work because you have to. Let the tasks you do at work be linked to a personal purpose. If there is a reason behind your efforts, it becomes easier to stay motivated. Your reason could be one of many things: To have a good metrics score by achieving high first call resolutions so that you will get that year-end bonus; to be cheerful because you want to have a pleasant day at work and not feel exhausted by the end of the day; or to help out new colleagues because you want to move up into a mentoring or even a management role. A personal purpose tied in with what you do every day goes a long way to keeping you motivated, because every day you feel like you are achieving something and being successful.
People are seeking jobs that offer opportunities for personal growth
Statistics show that people in the workplace today are seeking out jobs that offer opportunities for personal growth and learning. Also, the happiest employees are those that feel that their efforts contribute to a greater purpose. Companies are becoming more aware of this, and are making an effort to get to know their employees better so that they can support them in aligning their personal goals and purpose with the company’s – it makes for good business.
So if you’re looking for motivation this year, keep it simple, do the purposeful tasks every day, and remember the peanut butter sandwiches. If you want something different, if you want something more, work with a purpose and inspire others with your level of motivation.
For more information on motivating your agents, download this free report on the 5 keys to Contact Centre Success.
With thanks to Carolyn Blunt, Managing Director of Real Results Training