Contact centers are a dynamic and fast-paced work environment. In such workplaces, a strong, receptive relationship between front-line leaders in contact centers and well defined interpersonal structures is essential to continued thriving and progress. However, some contact centers are plagued by consistent internal strife. This can slow down operations, damage morale, and contribute to a high rate of turnover.
Part of this is due to the nature of contact centers as close quarters. It is also due to low-wage jobs, and the constant demands imposed upon employees, supervisors, and managers alike. However, other factors are avoidable and can add to a sense of harmony and mutual respect between co-workers. In this article, we will go over some of the most important ways to improve communication and the overall relationship between frontline leaders in contact centers, particularly frontline supervisors and upper management.
The vital role of real-time performance intelligence
This element strikes at the heart of many of the problems that occur between supervisors and managers. This includes a lack of communication about basic data. It makes it hard for both groups to see eye to eye about expectations and goals. Upper management tends to concern itself with long-term projects and data.
Frontline supervisors are more concerned with leading their teams through day-to-day operations. However, it is essential that both groups have at least a basic understanding of the other’s point of view. For supervisors, it is critical that they have access to at least some of the data that managers handle. This is so that they can better understand policies from upper management.
Knowledge and know-how: training and skills development are equally important
A lot of hiring and promoting managers make the disastrous mistake of believing that new supervisors because they were hired as supervisors based on merit, hard work, or expertise, know everything that they need to do their job effectively from day one. However, supervisors need help in order to be effective, and they are sometimes denied it. The resulting problems are one of the main obstacles to growth in many contact centers today.
Training for supervisors is critical, both in terms of the systems of employees and technology that they manage. As well as in terms of the complex relationships that come with leadership roles. Supervisors who are adept at organization and planning, but lack the basic interpersonal skills to connect with and motivate employees will consistently find problems with morale and communication. Likewise, employees and supervisors who feel that their hard work is being acknowledged express a general sense of satisfaction with their jobs.
Recognition, reward, and incentives create a good relationship between front-line leaders in contact centers
All managers strive to make their workplace a happy, healthy environment that employees enjoy spending time in, at the end of the day. However, some employees will always see compensation as the utmost priority.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. There are a number of tools at the hands of management that help them motivate employees. A smart manager is one who uses all of them together. Offering rewards and incentives for those employees who do an outstanding job is a great way to encourage employees.
Generally, punishing workers who fall behind is a bad idea because of the damage it does to morale, so if your goal is better interpersonal relationships between workers, retaliation should be light. The best thing to do is to let employees know that you are aware of their work. This can be accomplished equally well via reward or recognition.
Putting the “team” in teamwork
At the end of the day, all jobs are team operations, and contact centers are no exception. Learning to navigate the difficult nuances and restrictions posed by contact center environments will help with improving the interaction between frontline leaders. As well as between leaders and employees.
Once all of the different elements of leadership have been able to break through the barrier of formality that sometimes stifles workplace collaboration, they will be able to work together. This will enable them to improve conditions for each other and themselves. It will create better outcomes, better efficiency, and better productivity.
Creating a strong relationship between front-line leaders in contact centers
For upper management, the goal is to understand how long-term data-driven decisions play into day-to-day work. It is great as an idea on paper. However, upper management sometimes has unrealistic expectations for team leads. This can damage the relationship and result in slow performance. Once both tiers of management are on the same page about goals and capabilities, the ability to coordinate tasks to the best of everyone’s ability.
This also includes lower-level employees—is greatly increased. Supervisors who do not know the basics of their employees’ jobs will see their authority and credibility undermined. Consequently, an equal focus on training and development for operational and supervisory skills is essential to the continued success of frontline supervisors.
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Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.