10 Tips for Being a More Courageous Contact Centre Manager


A man jumps from one rock to another, over a very large gap

Orit Avital shares ten tips for being more courageous in your decision-making, with the aim of improving contact centre performance. 

A person with courage is one who faces difficult situations and does not avoid them in order to change reality.

Contact centre managers with courage, will know how to:

Take a standpoint – In situations where risky decisions must be made, they will not shy away or allow the issue to fester.

Share their problems – They will not be afraid to tell the team what is going on, before listening to any criticism and acknowledging concerns.

Handle confrontation (even though they do not aim for it!) – Teams with a manager who is afraid of confrontation will say sentences like “there is no way to get through to him/her”. As long as the manager is always respectful, situations of conflict are an opportunity for growth.

Lead the implementation of hard decisions – They will not make a decision that may be unpopular and ask someone else to do the “dirty work”. A courageous manager takes responsibility and explains why they had to make the decision.

Be a prominent presence within the contact centre – Smiling and taking the time to have friendly small talk with people from every level of the contact centre is great, it makes the manager approachable. People will hold their heads high when you walk past instead of flinching.

By facing up to difficult situations, managers can have a more transparent relationship with their team, which will strengthen advisor engagement, trust and loyalty.

By facing up to difficult situations, managers can have a more transparent relationship with their team, which will strengthen advisor engagement, trust and loyalty.

But simply going by each of the “criteria” above is much easier said than done.

With this in mind, here are our top ten tips for showing courage in your managerial decision-making, which will – over time – help to improve contact centre performance.

1. Do the Difficult Things First

It’s easy to stay focused on the here and now, but courageous people have ambition and will strive to reach their goals, despite all of the contact centre firefighting.

So, schedule time into your diary to plan for the future and, when you make plans, try to do the most difficult things first, because the more we worry about doing these things, the more time we waste (or spend on email!).

Schedule time into your diary to plan for the future and, when you make plans, try to do the most difficult things first, because the more we worry about these doing these things, the more time we waste (or spend on email!).

On this topic of email, we often spend too much time handing it! Think about only checking your emails during designated periods of the day and don’t let them distract you from achieving your other goals – like contact centre progression.

2. Challenge the Team to Do More Than Follow Instructions

When you put forward an idea, you want the team to share their honest opinions on that idea. Instead of just going along with it, you want them to be invested in it. The only way to do this is to give the team the chance to contribute to the creation of the idea.

So, when you form a hypothesis about how to move forward, you need to share that idea in a “safe-to-say” environment, so the team feel confident in sharing their thoughts.

When you form a hypothesis of how to move forward, you need to share that idea in a "safe-to-say" environment, so the team feel confident in sharing their thoughts.

When you form a hypothesis about how to move forward, you need to share that idea in a “safe-to-say” environment, so the team feel confident in sharing their thoughts.

To create this environment, you need to be courageous and lead the way by demonstrating constructive criticism, rewarding honest conversation and encouraging teamwork.

To offer constructive criticism, refrain from using negative language, point out opportunities and not faults, while you can also try to be emotionally intelligent.

3. Admit It When You Make Mistakes

It’s fine to say that you made mistake, because if you avoid mistakes altogether it limits your professional growth.

If you can admit your mistakes to the team, you – as their manager – seem more “real” and approachable. But also relay how you have learned from the error.

If you can admit your mistakes to the team, you – as their manager – seem more “real” and approachable. But also relay how you have learned from the error.

This comes down to leading from the top. By spreading the idea that it’s okay to make mistakes, the team may do more to push the boundaries and share suggestions that will ultimately lead to improved contact centre performance.

4. Allow Your Team to Dictate Your Culture

Sometimes being courageous means loosening your grip on certain aspects of the contact centre.

One of those aspects should include the culture and the atmosphere created on the contact centre floor, as it’s good practice for advisors to have an influence over the area in which they work.

While it’s important to share organisational values, to ensure your service meets the image of your brand, how your culture links to those values is something that advisors should have a say in.

While it’s important to share organisational values, to ensure your service meets the image of your brand, how your culture links to those values is something that advisors should have a say in.

So, when you think it’s time to bring in motivational games and incentives or if you want to redecorate some of your workspaces, let advisors lead you. This leads to greater engagement, which will bring the contact centre numerous benefits.

5. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

When managing a contact centre, you’ll often run into the same issues and you will handle them in the same way, a way that has been proven to “numb” the problem in the past.

A courageous manager will look for new fixes instead of reverting to those that have worked in the short term before. They will strive to find longer-term solutions that – while they may be risky – will prevent the problem from cropping up time and time again.

A courageous manager will look for new fixes, instead of reverting to those that have worked in the short-term before. They will strive to find longer-term solutions...

A courageous manager will look for new fixes instead of reverting to those that have worked in the short term before. They will strive to find longer-term solutions…

So be daring and, while you’re at it, encourage your team to be too and to find their own areas for development. In any role, you can only grow by leaving your comfort zone.

6. Identify How Big Decisions Will Impact Everyone and Open Discussion

Sometimes middle managers will be told to implement a new procedure that they know the team won’t take well to, so they “half-implement” it – in an attempt to keep both you and their advisors happy. The result is often that they please neither.

Make it clear to middle management that you expect them to follow your lead, to be courageous in the least popular places and hold open discussions with the team…

A courageous manager won’t put middle managers in this position but will take responsibility for the new initiative and initiate a discussion with the team about how the change will impact them.

Then, make it clear to middle management that you expect them to follow your lead, to be courageous in the least popular places and hold open discussions with the team about how you can make things easier for them. Focus on being proactive instead of defensive.

7. Challenge Middle Managers to Come Up With Long-Terms Goals

Many managers become great at talking but struggle when it comes to implementing. This is often why we focus on short-term targets as opposed to far-reaching objectives, as it’s easier to prove our progress when we keep hitting those small targets.

A courageous manager is someone who makes big decisions, not only short-term ones. While it’s easy to “look busy” by having these small but timely impacts to certain metrics, a courageous manager will stick to their long-term aims and stress their goals for long-term progression.

While it’s easy to “look busy” by having these small but timely impacts to certain metrics, a courageous manager will stick to their long-term aims and stress their goals for long-term progression.

Keep in mind that without long-term strategies, development is restricted, so don’t let current affairs serve as an excuse for avoidance.

8. Encourage Independent Thinking

Certain middle managers will look for your advice at every opportunity and you give it to them, because it’s the nice thing to do. But they will likely have more interaction with the team than you do and, in some cases, this will mean that they know more than you.

As the manager, you cannot make every decision, but you should get to know your middle management team and designate responsibilities to them based on your educated perceptions of their strengths.

If you believe that the middle manager can solve the matter on their own, quiz them and let them develop their own ideas through this consultation.

If you believe that the middle manager can solve the matter on their own, quiz them and let them develop their own ideas through this consultation.

So, if you believe that the middle manager can solve the matter on their own, quiz them and let them develop their own ideas through this consultation.

If you don’t give them your ideas when they ask, but do this instead, you’ll develop their independent thinking, and they’ll grow more confidence in it, so – over time – they’ll stop coming to you and trust in themselves. This allows you to “get on” with your other responsibilities, while middle managers advance their development.

9. Reward Advisor Courage

Courageous ideas don’t have to come through managers. Advisors are the people who customers share their greatest grievances with and they may have ideas for contact centre development. However, it takes courage for them to bring these ideas to the top.

Follow up on their suggestions. Don’t just say thank you and leave it at that. Discuss how you are going to move forward with their ideas.

So, how can we encourage advisors to come to us with their ideas? The most obvious method is to show our immediate gratitude to those who do.

But remember to follow up on their suggestions. Don’t just say thank you and leave it at that. Discuss how you are going to move forward with their ideas.

10. Share Ownership of Other People’s Mistakes

As managers, we are obligated to lead and steer, in all scenarios. This means that we often share the responsibility if a middle manager makes a mistake.

When something goes wrong, it’s easy to go looking for someone to blame, but only through self-assessment can we develop our managerial skills.

When something goes wrong, it’s easy to go looking for someone to blame, but only through self-assessment can we develop our managerial skills.

A courageous manager will do more than just forgive the “guilty” manager, but they will instead look at themselves and ask: did I give them too much responsibility too soon? Did I not offer an appropriate amount of support? Did I miss any key signals that the task was too much?

In Summary

Managerial courage is an important skill as it fosters a transparent relationship with the rest of the team, which promotes honesty, engagement and trust within the contact centre.

Orit Avital

Also, in the contact centre, courage will enable you to break new ground and achieve long-term goals, instead of just hitting short-term metrics.

If you follow the ten tips above, you will begin to train and develop courage within yourselves, as well as those who report to you.

Good luck!

Thanks to Orit Avital at Ottorita for sharing this article with us.

For more from Orit, read some of the following articles:

 

Published On: 6th May 2019 - Last modified: 9th May 2019
Read more about - Call Centre Management, , , ,


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