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Why Team Leaders Are Your Most Important Culture Coaches

Creating a purposeful, positive, productive work culture in your call center is a big job - and a critically important task.

The benefits of a vibrant, fun, healthy work culture are significant. My research (http://drtc.me/proof) indicates that, where companies engage in proactive culture improvement, three things happen. Employee engagement goes up - by 40% or more. Customer satisfaction goes up - by 40% or more. And results and profits improve by 35% or more, all within 18 months of engaging in culture refinement.

call center team leader

The problem is that the health of your work culture is rarely paid much (if any) attention.

Productivity is the only thing that’s measured

Across the call center industry, the primary (often the ONLY)  thing that gets measured, monitored, and rewarded is agent productivity.

Think about the agent metrics or KPI’s that your organization monitors. If you’re like most call centers, your KPI’s likely include:

  • The customer’s average time in queue
  • Average abandonment rate
  • First call resolution
  • Service level
  • Average handle time
  • Average after-call work time
  • Customer satisfaction

All of these are productivity measures. Productivity is certainly important - but it’s not the only important thing — more on that in a moment.

Let’s look deeper. Examine at your team leader (or team manager or team supervisor - all are common terms for front-line leaders that supervise teams of agents) job descriptions.

If your team leader job descriptions are typical, 95% of the duties and responsibilities listed are focused on agent productivity. These examples (here Call Center Manager Job Description and here Call Center Team Leader Job Description - JobHero) reinforce this percentage.

The focus is almost entirely on team leaders driving productivity

Again: productivity in a call center is definitely an important thing - but it’s not the only important thing. The other important thing is a healthy work culture - ensuring that every team member is treated with respect and is strongly valued as a player in the organization.

The cool thing is that when senior leaders invest time and energy in the health of their work culture, productivity increases (by 40% or more, as noted in my research above).

Why team leaders are your most important culture lever

You can improve the health of your work culture by training (and hiring) team leaders that see their role as serving BOTH the organization AND their team members - treating others with respect at all times while inspiring sustained high performance from agents.

Think about this: to an agent, the “face” of your organization is their direct supervisor. They don’t interact with senior leaders in the call center very frequently. The sole representative of the organization is their team leader.

If their team leader treats them - all of them - with respect and validates each agent’s efforts and accomplishments daily, that will boost the quality of your work culture.

If, however, their team leader treats them - any of them - poorly, dismissing, demeaning, and discounting their efforts, ideas, and accomplishments, that will erode the quality of your work culture.

Team leaders can deepen and sustain your desired culture by modeling and coaching desired behaviors in your culture - and by redirecting misaligned behaviors, every day.

Team leaders must be observant, on the lookout daily for aligned contributions and aligned teamwork. Team leaders can learn a great deal by listening to calls, by praising great work by agents with customers, engaging with agents between calls, recognizing great work, praising team traction, and more - every day.

Most importantly, team leaders must be consistent with modeling and coaching your desired culture. They can’t tease others - that erodes respect. They can’t lose their temper - even once - because one demeaning comment can destroy weeks of healthy relationship building.

Team leaders have a tough and essential job - validating agents while inspiring contribution. It’ll take team leaders time and energy to learn to pay as much attention to the quality of work relationships - and the health of the work culture - as they do to productivity.

Shifting your team leaders from purely monitoring productivity into effective culture coaches -reinforcing both results and respect - won’t happen without training, direction, and modeling from you all, the call center’s senior leaders.

You and your senior leader peers must be role models for how you want your team leaders to coach. You must model desired behaviors, coach team leaders proactively, and observe them daily, praising team leaders’ aligned actions and redirecting their misaligned behaviors firmly but kindly.

Only then will team leaders embrace their opportunity to be effective culture coaches every day.

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