If you have an issue with agent motivation, it can weigh you down in really unpleasant ways. Going to work isn’t fun for you, interactions are strained and performance is low. Those poor or mediocre reviews of your center on social media sites don’t help either.
Turning things around can seem like steering the Titanic - - and you are afraid of hitting an iceberg on the way and sinking the ship entirely.
I am not here to tell you that managing a motivational turn-around is easy. I am here to tell you it can be done, because I have seen it done. Naturally, a deep dive into your specific situation with an expert it the best way to go. You don’t need to be the monkey in the middle or the meat in the sandwich. Just do your part to take the right actions and launch the process.
Here are some tips that should get you thinking in the right direction:
Many managers hear complaints, but don’t know how to institute a structured program to gather inputs (positive as well as negative) and then react.
One manager I worked with once said “I don’t know what my employees want.” Response: “Why don’t you ask them?”
A survey plus focus group sessions can do the trick. As a manager you have to be prepared with a thick skin and an open mind.
I have been in numerous focus group sessions where employees have expressed their great appreciation that someone is asking them questions about their situations and sincerely listening to their responses. My experience is that most managers think they ask and listen well – but there is a gap between their perceptions and those of their agents. Today is a good day to test your hypotheses about your management style. Go out on the floor now and ask some questions.
Evaluate and Prioritize!
Review the surveys, your focus group notes and your notes on conversations carefully with your management team. Remember the “thick skin and open mind”, because some of the comments may be aimed squarely at management.
Discuss each issue and determine a solution or solutions. Then rank them by feasibility and importance.
In one of my client situations, we was determined that the relationship / communications between mid-level management and agents that was the biggest problem. The knowledge management system was next. Also, interestingly enough there was a huge desire for better appliances in the break room! Who knew! Certainly management did not.
If you start the “ask them” exercise, you have to be prepared to deliver results. The results do not have to be on every point (requests for a 20% pay bump will probably be put aside), but simply on enough feasible items such that you show you have heard and have cared enough to do something.
In the situation described in the previous section, per our recommendation, the manager started welcoming agents by name as they came through the door for their shifts. He reserved time for “management by chatting around” and made it a point to eat lunch with agents in the break room at least three times a week.
Finally, with our encouragement, secured the relatively small amount of budget that was necessary to buy a couple of shiny new appliances for the break room.
Cite Them AND Thank Them!
On the appliances were put signs that said: “Thank you for your input! Please enjoy these new appliances”. Not only were the appliances proof they had been heard, but there was a thank you and nice message from management. Morale soared.
Prioritizing is key. In this case the manager was able to alter his own behavior and begin interacting more immediately, greeting everyone at the door and being more present with employees in general (first checkmark).
Then, within two weeks, the appliances were installed with their messages of acknowledgement (second checkmark).
The improved Knowledge Management System took several months – but once the manager had secured approval he felt free to let his people know that relief was on the way (third checkmark).
No one expects you to build Rome in a day. They do expect you to lead and produce results according to a realistic timetable.
Keep these ideas in mind as you think about the things you want to ask from your agents. It may be difficult to come down hard on their Adherence metrics when morale is low. However, can become part of the general lifting up of the center (attitudes and performance) if you plan things well.
Think about it. We are talking here about the essence of good leadership. You can do it. If you need some help, let us know. A motivated, productive center is definitely worth the effort and the investment - - both in emotional terms and in financial returns.