We present practical methods for motivating your employees, which will also improve advisor retention, morale and performance.
1. Create Meaning
Many members of your team want purpose over pay cheques. They want to have a mission and the knowledge that what they are doing makes a difference to people.
Engaging employees starts with remembering what your business stands for. Ideally, we therefore want to have a key organizational goal and engage our advisors with that, so they feel a real connection to our organization.
So, let’s first think about whether or not advisors have a clear “mission” for what they do and how clearly they understand why they are doing it.
Sandra Thompson, the Founder of Exceed All Expectations, says: “If we can relate the tasks that advisors are doing to the bigger picture, that can help considerably to help advisors understand their purpose.”
“Having this purpose is critical and we can fill our team with this sense of purpose by connecting what advisors are doing day-in day-out with their own values and what they believe in.”
From Sandra’s point, we can firstly note that we need to be hiring people for their values, which link to our organizational purpose, and creating a culture around that.
We then need to ensure that we link the advisor role to that purpose, so advisors feel as though the job that they are doing has meaning. This will then help to generate extra motivation for helping customers, which can be refilled with regular recognition of good work.
Meaning and purpose often derives from storytelling. For more on this topic, read our article: Storytelling: The Modern Way to Increase Staff Motivation
2. Lead With Emotional Intelligence
As leaders, we need to recognize and understand both our own emotions and those of our team, especially the latter, so we gain a better idea of how we can positively influence those emotions.
After all, emotions can drive behaviours and impact people, so it is good to assess all the tools out there to see how you can increase your emotional intelligence.
Here are some key tips for increasing your emotional intelligence in management:
- Get to know advisors personally, to understand how they express emotions
- Treat each member of the team equally, spending an equal amount of time with each advisor, to understand what motivates them
- Be prepared to have difficult conversations, to strengthen relationships and eliminate issues that cause demotivation, before they escalate
All of us would like to work for leaders who follow each of the three tips above, as these leaders are actively looking to better understand our needs, motivations and attitudes.
By following these tips and actively managing our emotions, we can ensure that advisors feel supported, connected and provide them with a sense of belonging. This will boost each advisor’s motivation to work hard for you.
3. Give and Receive Effective Feedback
The best way to motivate through feedback is to provide short bursts of feedback immediately, both positive and constructive.
So, we shouldn’t be waiting for set appointments to review performance; we need to engage and motivate the team by providing quick, real-time coaching sessions and holding informal discussions with advisors.
We shouldn’t be waiting for set appointments to review performance; we need to engage and motivate the team by providing quick, real-time coaching sessions and holding informal discussions with advisors.
However, we’re not saying that you should get rid of your periodic performance reviews, as these help us to take a deeper consideration of the trends within the advisor’s performance and link their progress back to our wider goals.
The key is to offer consistent feedback, so that when it comes to these meetings, we are not surprised by what we find. We should know how advisors are performing and use this time to plan ahead and set new, motivating, targets for advisors.
Sandra adds: “This consistent feedback is important and it should work both ways. We should be actively listening to feedback from advisors about the working environment and how the organization is treating them.”
We need to do more than carrying out quarterly advisor satisfaction surveys and use their feedback to consider the following four areas:
- Focus – Do we give advisors the ability to mentally focus on the task at hand?
- Purpose – Are advisors motivated by a purpose and know the significance of their role in fulfilling that purpose?
- Value – What value do advisors get from the hard work that they put in every day?
- Renewal – What can advisors do between calls and on their breaks to recharge?
Then, when you address what comes back from the feedback and you say “you said this and we did that” in each of these four areas, you will increase motivation and retention.
These four areas were highlighted in the Harvard Business Review Article: What Is Your Quality of Life at Work?
4. Start Building a Culture of Enablement
While your rewards programme and job benefits are great for hooking people in, you cannot rely on them to keep advisors motivated.
This is according to Sandra, who says: “After a while, these things become expected, and many contact centres are now realizing this and increasing their focus on creating a culture of enablement, to give additional value in each advisor’s life.”
When you create a culture that gives advisors an independence that they cannot gain elsewhere, they will have a greater commitment to your brand and will likely be motivated to work harder for you.
So, what can you do to increase enablement and add value to the advisor role?
We should design shifts so that people want to work them, instead of being overly focused on efficiency, and make moves to give advisors more control over their work–life balance.
Firstly, we should design shifts so that people want to work them, instead of being overly focused on efficiency, and make moves to give advisors more control over their work–life balance.
Then, we should think about things like allowing advisors to make their own decisions when talking to customers and nurturing their creativity. This can help to remove some of the repetitiveness that is often associated with the advisor role, which can harm motivation levels.
But just remember, building a culture of enablement takes time, so start by taking small steps and testing the water by finding out what advisors would like to see done differently.
For more on better enabling the contact centre team, read our article: The Truth About Agent Empowerment (You Are Probably Getting It Wrong!)
5. Manage Your Metrics Differently
Contact centre leaders will all have had the experience of when an advisor acts in a really odd way that totally frustrates them.
Maybe the advisor tells us that they can’t do something, or maybe they refuse to transfer a call, or whatever, but rarely do these things happen because they don’t care.They happen because the advisor feels boxed in by policies and procedures.
These policies and procedures are often upheld by a manager that micromanages metrics, and we need to be wary of micromanagement, as it’s a big demotivator.
Dougie Cameron, COO at The Centre for the Moving Image and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, adds: “It’s an incredibly rare minority that come into work to do a bad job. Yet a lot of contact centres set up their measurement systems and management processes, across the entire workforce, to capture that minority.”
“We need to loosen the reins on efficiency metrics and focus more on customer metrics. The benefits are then going to accrue in a completely different way, less through cost management but, over time, you’ll achieve more in terms of customer loyalty, product up-sell and lower attrition, etc.”
This relates closely to the previous point of creating a culture of enablement, which we can only do by increasing our focus on the customer and guarding against the dangers of micromanagement.
If you do micromanage, your team will fail to see the real significance in their activity, stunting their growth and motivation levels, while also damaging your development as a leader.
6. Find Ways to Bring Fun
Motivation levels will change from day to day, which is why we cannot sit back and expect a yearly bonus to motivate our team. We need to be consistently finding ways to give our teams short bursts of enthusiasm, every day.
While having a purpose that gives the advisor a sense of meaning is key, some days their engagement levels will naturally be lower because, after all, we are all human.
So, we want to build a fun culture that provides the team with small boosts of extra motivation, but this needs to be organized to some extent – particularly at first, until we can pass the baton over to certain team members.
While it is up to us to get the ball rolling, we don’t want to be telling our teams “this is how to have fun”. In time, look for the most enthusiastic members of the team to take over.
Just make sure there is some variety to the fun activities that are organized, whether it’s games, charity fundraisers or celebrating key events in the year. We don’t want the fun to become stagnant; we want to build fresh enthusiasm into the work that we do in the contact centre.
But start simple, perhaps with some motivational games, to spark some healthy competition, then maybe ask the team to come up with their own ideas, before then passing over control completely.
You may even get to a point where you give advisors a budget to devise their own incentives plan to go alongside their fun initiatives. Just be wary of the dangers of using certain incentives.
For some ideas for games to get you going, read our article: Motivational Games for Call Centres
7. Create an “Unplanned Routine”
Every leader knows that routines are essential for ensuring that we manage various contact centre processes. Routines also help us to actively manage the levels of motivation within our teams.
Yet there is no such thing as a routine day in the contact centre. With the constant fire-fighting that is involved in our roles as leaders, checking up on the motivation levels and general well-being of our teams too often falls by the wayside.
We cannot let the unpredictability of contact centre management cause us to cancel the time that we set aside for advisor development. If we do that, we unwittingly suggest to advisors that their development isn’t a priority, which may damage their motivation to improve.
To get around this, in her article “3 Essential Management Routines for a Contact Centre Manager“, Orit Avital, General Manager at Ottorita, suggests creating an “unplanned routine”.
Describing how this works, Orit says: “Schedule times in your day, preferably around peak hours, to fire-fight, i.e. create an ‘unplanned routine’.”
“During the time slots which you determined, go around the contact centre – be on the floor! Things will reach you even before the fire breaks out!”
The key is working with an organized schedule and making it clear to the team when you are and are not available, meaning that you can go about your other tasks without risk of distraction.
However, in the times in which you are available, try to uphold an open-door policy so that advisors know that they can speak to you at a one-to-one level, not just in group sessions where whoever shouts the loudest gets the most attention. Be sure to treat everyone equally!
Motivation is an internal driver that encourages us to put more effort into the tasks we take on. But, because it’s intrinsic, we can’t force someone to be motivated. Instead, we have to create the right conditions to inspire motivation.
Each of the seven methods above will help you do so, as we covered each of the following principles for helping to motivate advisors in the contact centre:
- Connecting advisors with the values of the brand
- Creating a purpose so people feel like they’re making a difference at work
- Giving feedback so that advisors feel a sense of achievement
- Offering consistent recognition and introducing elements of fun
- Enabling a good work–life balance
If you have plans in place to meet each of these principles, you will likely be in a good place in terms of engaging your team.
However, if not, implementing some of the strategies that we listed above will be a good place to get started.
For more advice on how to motivate your employees in the contact centre, read our articles: