Answers: How Many Agents Can One Team Leader Effectively Supervise?


I would like to know the international standards regards the number of agents one Team Leader can effectively supervise. What is too much for one Team Leader and what other practices can we benchmark against?

Answer 1: 

I was fortunate to recently manage a company call centre where the team leader to agent was 1:6 and what a big difference it made in morale, motivation and performance. If a TL has 100% of his time dedicated to leading the team you could probably do 1:15 but in my experience you get dragged into projects and other distractions. So, a team lead can easily manage a team of 8-10 agents with his/her full attention.

Answer thanks to Yasser Altaf.

Answer 2:

I have handled 39 agents in my team for 6 months. We were working for a technical helpline(airtel gprs connectivity). Most important factor is relationships with the team member, if your team supports you can handle this amount very easily. In every team you will get 50% agent smart n rest need to make smart, Agents make mistake, but in this situation when they think TL in no more gonna leave me, on this situation u need to treat them smiling n caring, makes you more than a TL.

Answer thanks to Mukesh

Answer 3: 

An opportunity to work in those situations. I started as a TL for Convergys corp and worked up to Operations Manager. For most clients, the ratio tends to hang around 1 TL for every 15 agents. What you will find, centers will push for more agents per TL, thus reducing costs. Effectively, 18 agents should be max. For a new TL, I would suggest 12, but we don’t live in Disney World.

Anyone that says less than 1:12 is not or has not really worked as a traditional team leader in leading outsourcing centers such as Convergys, Sitel, West, Teletech, Sykes, etc. Granted, KUDOS to those guys that got easy street with 5 or 8!

I managed effectively because of the relationship I built with my team, it boils down to just that. Anyone that says otherwise is a fool. You get more work out of your team if you assist them and help them when needed. TL’s that tend to hang out in the coffee/break room and sit and complain about the workload aren’t really doing their jobs. Been there, done that.

Now, what will you do as a TL one poster asked. I can’t say for every single call center out there, but expect a lot of call monitoring for quality, a lot of coaching and a lot of systems/reports. More than likely, you will run some sort of program/s that monitor efficiency on a day to day basis. You will also obtain reports regarding their efficiency. Universally speaking, there is always things such as PTV (phone time variance), Schedule Adherence, AHT (average handle time) and probably most important, quality. Depending on what type of business it is, this is going to be the big thing there. Monitoring the calls, scoring the calls, coaching the agents for performance. Build a good relationship with your agents, let them know you care, and most of these fall in to place. Let them know what the metrics for your site are, show them where they are at, where they need to be and most importantly, HOW to get there. They will do it. Hope any of this helps

Answer thanks to Anonymous.

Published On: 20th Mar 2009 - Last modified: 23rd Aug 2016
Read more about - Call Centre Management, ,


14 Comments
  1. 1:15 is the recommended ratio (supervisor per agents) to get an effective performance and reach the results.

    Firenze 2 Apr at 12:34 pm
  2. Ask for a standard and you are most likely to get a range of answers. If you look at benchmark reports such as ContactBabel and Merchants you will find that practice will vary across countries and industry sectors. Nevertheless, in my experience, best practice is closer to 1:8 (and no more than 1:12), with allowances for the experience of both supervisors and team members and the organisations quality structure (i.e. is their a separate group for call quality recording and feedback and how does this interact with the team leader)?. If the ratio is too great the team is unlikely to be getting the coaching necessary for continuous improvement.

    Mike Boyle 3 Apr at 8:59 am
  3. I think in addition to Mikes point it should be said that if a TL has 100% of his time dedicated to leading the team you could probably do 1:15 but in my experience you get dragged into projects and other distractions. I think you need to factor those distracting factors in if you really want to set a base figure. Further there are other aspects (e.g. what’s your fluctuation, do you actually need to do IDPs?) .
    There is a lot of stuff going into this so my guess is you’ll have to make individual decision rather than having a fixed number.

    DocMors 6 Apr at 1:42 pm
  4. Depends on the type of call centre and the parameters of the Team Manager, also on the structure of the business, call type/volume etc.

    I’ve had a team of 25 and managed them all well, but in my current position I could only effectively have 18-20.
    IMO, in large organisations that have quality teams, HR to hire, senior management for projects and WFM to run the centre, its alot easier to have a larger team.

    Chris Roberts 21 Apr at 2:55 am
  5. For call centers (ranging 50-75 agents), i think a team of 7-12 is always very effective. By effective i mean to give proper attention to them, solving their issues and simultaneously achieving KPIs of call center.

    Nauman Cheema 25 Apr at 9:54 am
  6. It’s dependant on the what the Team Leader role will entail. If you are in a contact centre which is very transactional based (i.e. directory enquiries) then the role may be more basic, general coaching, review of stats/KPI’s and attendance monitoring.
    But if you are in a more customer experience, case management environment then coaching requirements are much more in depth, call handling, case handling, objective outcomes, impact on creating brand ambassadors. In this case I would recommend having a Lead Coach to support the team and the team leader but also a lesser team size.
    As said in another answer you need to take into account, other projects, succession planning (both for the team and the team leader).

    M Henderson 27 Apr at 1:25 pm
  7. I agree that the number of agents will differ per team according to Call Centre size. Twelve agents is a good number to work with as team building can be done in a proper manner. Team leaders always get overloaded with other work and then they loose focus regarding targets to be reached.

    Andries Venter

    Andries Venter 14 Oct at 9:29 am
  8. There are some interesting stats in an article that Mats Rennstam https://www.callcentrehelper.com/what-to-measure-and-manage-in-your-call-centre-6447.htm

    This shows that the average is typically a ratio of 1:15. It also shows that The top performers all have between 8 and 15 agents per coach. This results in:

    * 10% higher ready time
    * 5% higher availability
    * 5% higher FCR
    * Lower absence
    * More satisfied agents
    * Higher competency

    jonty pearce 16 Oct at 9:07 am
  9. The standards any benchmarking exercise offers is purely what the majority companies do, or the average of all parties evaluated. The reality is that companies budgets determine the ratio – and in traditional customer service call centres where the area is seen primarily as a cost centre and not profit centre, scenarios such as 1:15 exist.

    I was fortunate to recently manage a company call centre where the team leader to agent was 1:5 and what a big difference it made in morale, motivation and performance.

    Mike B. most probably comes closest to given a balanced figure 1:8 and no more than 1:12 (although more than 10 is pushing it) – however it all comes down to the bean counters and how much you can push them – the less agents per manager the better the management and performance.

    Observation – where I have seen 1:25 these have been where agents work shifts out of sync with each other and not simultaneously.

    Darryn Havenga 16 Oct at 11:49 am
  10. What do call center team leads do in details?

    Gilbert 3 Mar at 7:15 am
  11. Well I’m a supervisor who manages a team of 9 Advisors while we have one manager who oversees the 2 sets of teams and that works out great My manager only gets involved if need be.

    The moral on my team is great we laugh and joke but they know the line and not to cross it which is the main thing

    Brett 30 Mar at 9:24 pm
  12. To answer the original question, after seeing what everyone else wrote, I just wish I had an opportunity to work in those situations. I started as a TL for Convergys corp and worked up to Operations Manager. For most clients, the ratio tends to hang around 1 TL for every 15 agents. What you will find, centers will push for more agents per TL, thus reducing costs. Effectively, 18 agents should be max. For a new TL, I would suggest 12, but we don’t live in Disney World.

    Anyone that says less than 1:12 is not or has not really worked as a traditional team leader in leading outsourcing centers such as Convergys, Sitel, West, Teletech, Sykes, etc. Granted, KUDOS to those guys that got easy street with 5 or 8!

    I managed effectively because of the relationship I built with my team, it boils down to just that. Anyone that says otherwise is a fool. You get more work out of your team if you assist them and help them when needed. TL’s that tend to hang out in the coffee/break room and sit and complain about the workload aren’t really doing their jobs. Been there, done that.

    Now, what will you do as a TL one poster asked. I can’t say for every single call center out there, but expect a lot of call monitoring for quality, a lot of coaching and a lot of systems/reports. More than likely, you will run some sort of program/s that monitor efficiency on a day to day basis. You will also obtain reports regarding their efficiencies. Universally speaking, there is always things such as PTV (phone time variance), Schedule Adherence, AHT (average handle time) and probably most important, quality. Depending on what type of business it is, this is going to be the big thing there. Monitoring the calls, scoring the calls, coaching the agents for performance. Build a good relationship with your agents, let them know you care, and most of these fall in to place. Let them know what the metrics for your site are, show them where they are at, where they need to be and most importantly, HOW to get there. They will do it. Hope any of this helps…

    Tim 31 Mar at 3:46 am
  13. HI all, need your professional advice o n this. So we have this new leader in our BPO who’d like to reduce cost by setting ratio for every part. Like: 1:15 for team leaders and QA, 1:40 for supervisors, 1:100 for managers. It means that if one manager of a specific project only has 35 agents, he will likely be pointed out to handle other projects until he meets the ratio 1 manager for 100 agents. It applied to other position as well.
    Do you have different/same case? Can you please share the best practice for this? Thanks in advance for the sharing

    Cici 14 Feb at 7:13 am
  14. I think that this is false economy. Good contact centres operate on much smaller numbers such as 1:8. By taking numbers higher your staff will be getting much less management time and less support time. Attrition will go up and people who are nopt so well trained will njot be able to turn to their team leaders for help. This will reduce customer satisfaction.

    Jonty Pearce 14 Feb at 3:06 pm
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