You are an outbound team leader or supervisor in a contact center. It is not easy. In fact, it’s a really difficult job. But as you already know, it can also be exciting and rewarding. Because contact centers are awesome.
You’re more than just a leader. You’re also a manager and a motivator. You need lots of ‘people skills’ – but at the same time you are responsible for results.
Do you want to be a fantastic supervisor? Read on…
Know your team
Awesome contact center supervisors really know each of their team members. They know their strengths. They know their weaknesses and their failings. They know what motivates them. They also know what drives undesirable behavior.
Knowing all this, it’s up to you to keep morale high.
You will only really get to know your agents when you listen to them. Really listen. Create opportunities for your team players to speak openly about their issues, both the positive and negative. Make them feel comfortable to share their excitement as well as their frustrations – and not only one-on-one with you, but with their colleagues too.
Make it your business to understand the ups and downs of your agents’ personal lives too. Not so much as to be intrusive. Just enough to let them know that you really care.
Do not be a dictator
You are a leader. Leaders lead by setting good examples. So don’t expect any of your team to do something that you can’t or don’t do.
If you expect them to be punctual, you can never be late. If you expect them to be enthusiastic, be enthusiastic. If you expect them to make difficult calls, get your headset on and get in the trenches with them.
Good leaders inspire their teams. Great leaders treat their team as a family. They teach. They train. They coach. They do it every day. They never give up inspiring team members to achieve more and more – to become all that they can be, in the workplace and in their personal lives.
Outstanding supervisors build trust and a ‘together we can do it’ culture. When they achieve their goals, so will you.
Be a meaningful manager
Outbound sales or collections are really difficult. In addition to inspiring and motivating teams, great supervisors must also manage the day-to-day realities.
They make sure there are clear lines of communication between the organization, the contact center manager and the team members. And this is just one of many important functions. Building individual and team development plans, performance management, on-the-job training, call monitoring and managing feedback from quality assurance are equally important.
Meaningful managers don’t operate in isolation. They share the bigger picture with their team. They get involved in the recruitment, on-boarding and training processes. They understand the importance of data and provide insights and feedback to management.
Meaningful supervisors start shifts with a sincere ‘team huddle’ or ‘stand-up’. It is the time to talk about goals, targets and team performance. It’s the time to openly discuss problems and challenges. It’s also the time to share individual and team successes, and to recognize achievements.
Do not be a dork!
Whatever you do, don’t be a control freak! Don’t hide behind the numbers. Don’t hide behind your computer.
Be visible. Be at your team’s side throughout the shift. Don’t ignore team members’ personal problems or challenges. They’re only human. Don’t jump to conclusions and become emotional when there are performance problems. Get the facts. Be rational. Be fair. Be objective.
Do not stifle creativity. Give your team members opportunities to express themselves and to come up with new ideas. Be adventurous. Try new methods and new techniques. Don’t become arrogant or distance yourself from your team.
If your team is failing, who’s to blame? Probably not them!
Ten tips to becoming a tremendous supervisor
- Have a plan. Read up and learn all the tactics and techniques of great team management. Plan how you intend to develop your team (and yourself).
- Keep in mind that building and maintaining team morale is the key to achieving targets and goals.
- You are a coach. Now start coaching!
- Never miss a QA feedback session. Feedback from QA is critical to the continuous development of your team members.
- Don’t forget the huddle! Your morning huddle sets the mood and the tone for the day. The more energy that you put into the morning kick-off, the better your team will perform throughout the day. You may want to hold a five-minute booster huddle midway through the shift, and a wrap-up huddle at the end of the shift.
- Don’t get emotional. Keep your cool. When things go wrong or performance drops, gather all the facts and be objective. Be rational at all times. Your team will respect you more. And so will your boss!
- Develop and write up performance improvement plans for each member of your team. Get their individual inputs and understand their personal goals. It is your responsibility to support them all the way. You are their manager, their mentor and their coach.
- Make sure you are a reliable communication link between the company, call center management and your team members. Keep your team informed.
- Listen to your team. Encourage open and honest feedback about challenges, problems and successes. Make sure your team trusts you to communicate accurately and fairly to senior management.
- Become a humble leader.
Leadership is being bold enough to have vision and humble enough to recognize it will take the efforts of many. – Kathy Heasley