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Inside Outsourced: Rajiv: Ties the Baratt

As we check in this week with Mid American Novelties’ call center, we find Rajiv preparing for his upcoming nuptials. He’s handing out invitations left and right – every guest will have to give him a gift – but not to Gupta. Todd tells Gupta that he wasn't invited to Rajiv's wedding because he's too valuable to the call center's smooth running while everyone's at the wedding. Gupta immediately thinks, "I'm in charge!" Later, we see Gupta's fantasy of being on a spa-chair throne and waited upon by other agents.
Later we find Rajiv begging Todd to be a member of his wedding party and Todd uses the opportunity to save the call center from Gupta’s grasp by forcing Rajiv to allow him to come as his “plus one.” It’s a good thing Rajiv agrees – Gupta’s the only fellow who can guide Todd through the ceremonial maze, and he’s able to elevate Rajiv in Vimi and her father’s (who doesn’t like Rajiv) esteem with his humorous insults hurled at Rajiv from the stage.
But Todd’s not a total waste as a best man – he and Charlie organize an American-style bachelor party for Rajiv. Too bad it was a little lame – and that Vimi and her father walk in on the groom in a seemingly compromising position. 
Meanwhile, Manmeet’s nervously preparing for his first visit from his American girlfriend – with Todd’s help, of course. 
And Madhuri falls in love at the wedding!
While the main plot of this episode focused on the agents’ aspirations outside the call center, we uncovered a valuable lesson, explored here by call center training experts ICMI Certified Associates Ann Gray and Laura Grimes and ICMI Senior Consultant Rose Polchin.
Q: While Todd's mistaken "promotion" of Gupta was aimed at sparing his feelings, do you ever see/have you ever seen real instances of managers or supervisors giving agents a little bit of responsibility (even deservedly) and then the agent turning that into a crazed power trip?
Ann: Setting clear expectations is a component of honest communications, and builds trust. We all know that trust is required between parties for any healthy relationship. Defining the scope of responsibility and the benefit to both the center and the agent for a given temporary situation is part of setting clear expectations. Sometimes managers are tempted to offer false flattery or compliments. Perhaps it is to justify asking the agent to perform the duty or task instead of presenting it in terms of the business need and agent opportunity.
Laura: A little bit of authority can sometimes be misdirected and become tyranny.
One of the biggest mistakes we, as managers make, is to share responsibility but not support it with guidance and accountability. The biggest transition employees make in their career is the first step into management. An agent has not had the opportunity to see the "behind the scenes""aspect of managing and might sometimes make assumptions about how to assert themselves.
A manager's job is to the guide the transition.  It requires a little more work upfront but the payoff is that agents experience success with their first forays into management and gain confidence.
Rose: Just as we would set and communicate clear performance expectations for any job or project,  we have a responsibility to the same in a scenario like this one.  Therefore setting guidelines of what "being in charge" means with the individual is critical.  I also think that trust is critical to any relationship and in this case, that trust will be eroded if/when that individual finds out they were given a set of responsibilities to “"pare their feelings."
I would also add, that if it is relevant, communicating to the entire team, the situation and your expectations of them in terms of them supporting this individual, working with them and so on is another step towards success.
Bottom line:  Clear, honest communication as well as a "right fit" in terms of the individual and the set of responsibilities/opportunities you are thinking about providing them with, are essential to successful delegation.