Three Simple Rules for Engaging Your Team

“…look. We aren’t that concerned with their skill level, or really, what they sound like either. Nobody stays here for long, so we figure that we’ve at least got a pulse on the other end of that phone.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I’ve seen a lot of things, been in some bad environments, and taken part in those difficult conversations, but the words that were coming out of this woman’s mouth had me dumbfounded.  Not just dumbfounded, but downright angry.  If you’ve ever been in a conversation with someone and you knew, based on the first word that came out of their mouth, that you were going to be irritated, you know what I’m talking about.  I really wish I could have asked the question, “Do you hear yourself?”

A good place to start here is probably the beginning but, since neither you nor I probably have time for that, here’s the 10 cent history report leading up to said quote.  This particular contact center struggled with many of the things that we’ve all struggled with at some point in our careers, but they seemed to have the most difficult time with one thing in particular: employee engagement.  This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise for many of you because it’s a hard one to get right.  Changing metrics, quality programs, even CRM systems can seem like a walk in the park when compared to getting employee engagement right.  Which then begs us (as they did) to ask the question,

“Well Justin, why do you think this is?”

It’s a lot harder to get right, because it’s an organization-wide issue.  Since this is the case and (I think) we all know this, it’s a lot easier to place the blame elsewhere when we have issues with employee engagement.  “If only we had better perks”, “If only we had better recruitment strategies”, “If only our company did something ‘cool’”… It ends up being a lot of complaining and little action because, “hey, that takes effort and I’ve already got enough on my plate running this contact center.”  Look I get it.  You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy but if someone doesn’t step up and take responsibility, nothing will change.

We got into this conversation about their struggles with employee engagement; I listened to a list of excuses for why it wasn’t their job to fix the problem, and then received the following verbal shockwave, “The good news is that we got our solution to poor engagement.  We just stopped caring about who we hired.  The customers have to do business with us so we figured look. We aren’t that concerned with their skill level, or really, what they sound like either. Nobody stays here for long, so we figure that we’ve at least got a pulse on the other end of that phone.”

Good news? I’m standing there thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”  You’ve thrown your hands up in defeat and are now harming anyone and everyone that comes into contact with your center.   How could things have gotten to the point that you consider this a legitimate resolution?  When will the bleeding stop?  This situation happened several years ago and I’m glad to say that the organization did a 180.  They realized that employee engagement (at all levels) is the differentiator between organizations and is what can drive higher results in customer satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately financial returns.   As I took a look at their situation and others like it, I identified three trends in their organization wide initiatives that led to a change in their level of employee engagement.  The cool part, I think, is that these are all things that we can accomplish in the contact center.  I mentioned that someone has to step up and take action and, by following these three rules, I hope to make you that person.  I wrote them with the contact center in mind and encourage you to integrate them into your everyday.

 Rule 1: One Size Does Not Fit All

 In other words, from performance measures and learning styles to workplace options and methods of communication, organizations with highly engaged employees exhibit flexibility, personalization, and genuine interest in the INDIVIDUALS that make up their team.

Rule 2: Participation Fuels Progression

 People who are involved in their work are more likely to stay in their jobs, more likely to be nicer to customers, and ultimately, more likely to ensure that they are part of an organization that is stable and successful.

Rule 3: We Get Returns on What We Recognize

Numerous studies have shown that status and recognition are the top two primary employee motivators, yet so many organizations suffer from a praise problem.  The organizations driving employee engagement have found a way to use the power of praise.

If you’re looking for ways to drive engagement within your team, I’m going to take a deeper dive into these three rules during my upcoming live virtual session, Building Brand Advocates.  I’ll help you to apply these rules across your center and develop a workforce that is driven by an emotional commitment to your contact center and its goals.  You don’t want to miss this one, so I hope you’ll join me there!

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Jodi Beuder — 2:22PM on Sep 12, 2013

Keeping employees engaged, especially when their jobs might become monotonous or straining (like, say, if you work in a call center or tech support department)... Keeping employees motivated with incentives like awards, rewards, and even a monthly name call-out are great ideas. Training is a fantastic way to keep employees engaged in their work, learning how they can be even more successful using the tools they've been given. During training, role playing and game playing can mix up learning methods, making their day fun and exciting. We have a white paper on the Best Practices for Reducing Employee Turnover: Enjoy!