“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Anthony Robbins
Creating a cost efficient and truly motivated workforce in a call center environment is always a challenge. Employees are literally “chained” to their phones and feel pushed and pulled by one metric or another. Employees can quickly become disheartened.
For the next few weeks I will share 5 great ideas that will help you to rejuvenate and motivate your employees to deliver their goals effectively and efficiently with a smile on their faces.
Idea # 1
I don’t need to tell you how Schedule Adherence is a major driver of efficiency and effectiveness in call centers. By the same token it may just be the one indicator that undermines your attempts to foster the right environment to attract and keep the best workforce. Should you do away with it? The answer is a big resounding “No!”.
The first thing you might consider is to rethink real time schedule adherence.
The great thing about Real Time Adherence is that it permits you to react immediately to address problems. This means you optimize your operations on-the-fly – this translates into immediate savings by eliminating waste as it occurs thus preventing further loss.
If the nature of your workforce is such that they never remain in the job for more than a few months then real time adherence is an ideal way to reduce your expenses in terms of waste. Hopefully the reason they don’t stay in their jobs for long has nothing to do with your leadership but more the nature of the market.
On the other hand, if your people would rather stay in their jobs for a few years then it would be more advantageous for you to stop managing schedule adherence in real time and empower people by managing “historical” schedule adherence.
The benefits of historical adherence are substantial on several fronts. If you have ever managed schedule adherence in real-time you are aware of the high cost in “policing” your workforce – how many people do you employ and how many hours do they spend “walking the beat” on the floor? What about the kind of environment this creates for your employees? Do they feel trusted or do they feel like Big Brother is watching? Do they feel empowered or do they feel disengaged? Do they remain active in pursuing your goals or do they become passive followers? How much does this cost you in the long run?
Historical adherence is an enabler. It produces leaders, active promoters and an engaged workforce. It enables you to reduce expenses by reducing the hours spent policing, and by empowering your employees to achieve the best within themselves.
Historical adherence leaves them free to manage their own time according to a plan. It enables your employees to feel in control of their destiny. It has been said that if you are responsible for the outcome or the results then you should have the authority to make the decisions to achieve those results. Real time adherence imposes the responsibility but removes the authority from the employees. Historical adherence restores the proper balance of responsibility and authority for your employees thus creating truly active participants and promoters.
Try to imagine how motivated you would be if you were made responsible to achieve your current objectives but had no authority in the choice of method, process and tools to achieve them. This really means you are not needed to use your mind to arrive at solutions, you are merely the technician obeying orders. How excited would you be? How exciting is it when you are asked to “do as I say”? How exciting are you to execute other people’s plans yet be responsible for its failure?
Historical adherence entrusts people with their thinking, their ingenuity, their personal touch. How? I thought you would never ask!
- Set clear expectations.
- Hold them accountable.
- Follow through.
Set clear expectations: define a clear daily score/objective for adherence and for conformance. Instead of being told by their boss, let them have reports of their performance available to them so they can tell for themselves if they are on the right track. Empower them.
Hold them accountable: define a monthly goal. Even though they know that they have a daily goal, make them accountable for it on a monthly basis. It avoids the feeling of ‘nit-picking’. Establish a monthly objective that calculates the number of days an agent has achieved the daily adherence expectations. Don’t average their adherence scores; instead use a “Success Rate”. Success Rate formula = Number of days achieved goal divided by number of days worked.
Then set an objective for your success rate by determining how strict you want to be: do you want 100% success rate (i.e. achieve the adherence goal every day?) Or will you allow them to miss 1 day or 2 days per month? Enlighten them.
Follow through: Provide monthly scores to your employees, have the necessary conversations whether positive reinforcements or constructive criticism. Encourage them.
You are now on your way to create a very empowering working environment. Yes there is a cost to this – you might say. Depending on what your real time goal or tolerance level was on a daily basis.
This means that you will need to THINK about what your tolerance level is. Obviously, if you have not set any tolerance levels, that would be the best place to start if you want to create a more motivating environment. Consider the cost of tolerance to be much less than the cost of rehiring, training etc. (By tolerance I mean the number of minutes an employee can be out of adherence before you intervene.)
Next topic will be about setting the right tolerance levels, i.e. adherence goals for your business.