Recruiting. It’s never been a straightforward process. For both the interviewer looking for call centre staff and the prospective call centre employee it can be a difficult and complicated task. The pressure is on the recruiter to make sure they select the right person, someone who is going to perform effectively, efficiently and stay in the role for the long term. And, of course, there is pressure on the candidate, who in a very short amount of time needs to demonstrate that they are not only suited for the job, but better than the competition. An arduous process indeed.
But one factor that is perhaps overlooked is whether or not the person is likely to thrive, over and above having all the right competences. Sure, you may have good communication skills along with sales acumen, but are you going to be a ‘natural fit’? After all, call centres, just like other industries, are facing huge costs due to staff turnover. Oxford Economics recently found that staff turnover costs British businesses as much as £4.2 billion annually. So why are some organisations appointing the wrong people to the wrong jobs in the first place?
There are three main reasons. Firstly, they don’t know who their great performers are or what makes them great, so it’s pot luck to find suitable people. Secondly, they choose people based on what they think they need rather than methodically gathering evidence of what makes someone excellent in a particular role. And finally, they choose people on what they can do rather than what they love to do. Let’s explore this further.
Successful call centres are adopting a new approach to identifying and selecting strong performers – and the results are there to see.
Take Acromas Group, the (until recently) parent company of AA and Saga. By taking this new approach, one of its businesses reported that the turnover rate in the first three months of employment fell from 22% to 10.8%.
And how did they achieve this? They simply adhered to the age-old adage that ‘people are your greatest asset’ in the way they recruit and develop their staff by using Strengths-Based Recruitment (SBR).
Strengths-Based Recruitment, as the above suggests, is a method of selecting people who are a natural fit for the job – in a nutshell, ‘round pegs for round holes’.
It’s about attracting, selecting and developing people who really want to do the job and who will thrive because they have the natural innate strengths and motivations, versus ‘square pegs in round holes’ who can just do the job.
It’s based on evidence that we are who we are, and whilst you can learn new skills or knowledge, if you don’t have a natural strength you cannot acquire it. So, for example, if you are working in sales and are not a competitive person, you can’t be made into a competitive person, no matter how much training or coaching you receive.
Call centre bosses that have already embraced SBR have typically done so because they want a step-change in performance and to improve customer service to become more competitive, in addition to saving costs and dramatically reducing staff turnover. So how do you go about transitioning from the traditional competency-based recruitment approach to SBR?
Ultimately, you need to know what strengths are needed to be a star performer, and this will involve profiling those people in your current workforce who excel.
By way of example, for one of the roles we profiled for the AA, we discovered that their best performers had 13 strengths in common. A brand new pool of talent was opened up when ex-servicemen and women recognised themselves in this profile. They were actually a perfect fit but had never imagined themselves loving a job in a contact centre.
So there are a few questions you should be asking yourself. Which employee groups are key to delivering your business objectives? What makes the star performers in these groups great? What are the natural strengths that they bring? How and where can you find more candidates like these people? How should you best engage, manage and reward them once they have been appointed? These will help you frame your job ads to encourage the strongest performers to apply.
Call centres are continually challenging convention by adopting the SBR approach and have seen the immense benefits – yours could too.
Sally’s new book Strengths-Based Recruitment and Development. A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results contains case studies of companies that have transformed their results by introducing SBR.