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It's All About the Agent

Motivated, engaged employees.  We all want them and/or want to know how to get and keep them.  Intuitively, managers realize that engaged employees are more productive, deliver better service and ultimately are more valuable than those who are not. And the Gallup organization research on the U.S. workforce quantifies what the cost of disengagement.  According to their research, the actively disengaged employees cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity.  And that number is one that drives many great leaders and managers to continually ask themselves what they can do to create an environment that promotes and sustains employee engagement?   If the answer were simple, a lot more than 29% of American employees would be engaged, right?    (In fact, the Gallup research suggests that 29% of the U.S. workforce is actively engaged, 55% is not engaged, and 16% is actively disengaged.)

That said, there are definitely some keys to success.  The following are some key elements of engagement.    While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it does contain many of the critical success factors that enable engagement.  So take a look at each of these and ask yourself and perhaps those on your team to identify those that are effectively deployed in your center, and potential areas of opportunity.

Elements of engagement

  • Hiring: It starts with hiring the right people and training them correctly:
  • Do you/have you provided input to the agent success profile?
  • When was the last time you reviewed the criteria that is being used to hire agents?  What do you think – does it accurately represent the kind of person you need on your team?
  • Does the hiring process explore the prospective candidate’s view of center work?  Career or just a paycheck?
  • What does the work environment look like?  It is pleasant physically and relationally?
  • Do employees have the tools they need to do their job comfortably and technically?

Lead by Example

Employees look to their Leader – you – to know how to react to what’s going on whether it’s new initiatives, announcements, or organizational changes. They look to you to be the “True North”, to give them clear direction. 

Most of your employees want to know what is important, right?  So where do they find that?  One of the biggest ways is by carefully watching and listening to managers.  Your employees look for consistent patterns.  When you say something is important and also act consistently, it supports that message and people believe what you say.  We know the reverse is also true.

Do you have “flavors of the month” or consistent goals and objectives that have been clearly communicated and make it easy to understand what is expected and WHY?

Do all leaders “walk the talk”?    For example:

  • If we say a positive attitude about change is important, do our words, our actions, non-verbal and verbal reflect that?
  • If we say the call center is a great place to work and is valued by the organization, it is up to us to show them that we mean it by making sure we are doing our best to get the support and budget we need.  If we say we want people to stretch and grow…are we showing them we are trying to do the same?

And remember that what we reward is what we say is important so if we want one behavior but reward another, well we know which one we’ll get.  For example: you want team spirit, but the reward is to the “best team player” an individual!)

Value Employees:

  • How and how often do we celebrate success – of individuals and the team?
  • Do our leaders know and treat our frontline as individuals?
  • Do we make your feedback frequent, specific and sincere?
  • Do we respect agents enough to be honest with them?
  • Do we effectively address poor performance?
  • Do you say hello to everyone individually at the beginning of the day? 
  • Do we use a “personal approach” to value and appreciate each individual on the team?

Create the Right Processes:

  • Do we have strong communication processes that keep people in the know?
  • How do we address conflict?
  • How do we and how often do we ask for input?  And do we close the loop on feedback we receive?
  • Do we have fair and comprehensive reward and recognition programs in place?
  • How to help our representatives grow, develop and be the best they can be?
  • Are we willing to experiment, try new ideas and see the possibilities?

So how engaged are your employees?  We’d love to hear your success stories!