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3 Telltale Signs Your Contact Center Culture is Unhealthy

How healthy is your contact center work culture?

If you're like many organizations around the globe today, your workplace is probably not that inspiring.

TinyPulse's 2017 annual global employee engagement report found that only 26% of employees feel strongly valued at work.

Unhealthy work culture

Gallup's 2017 State of the Global Workplace report indicates that only 15% of employees are engaged at work. The business cost of 85% of the global employee population being disengaged? About $7 trillion in lost productivity.

Younger employees like Millennials and Gen-Z's want a positive, productive work experience. Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report indicates that 80% of executives rated the employee experience as important or very important. And only 22% of those same executives believe their companies deliver that positive, productive work experience effectively.

It's natural for contact center leaders to focus most of their efforts on managing results. Targets and dashboards are visible and a focal point of coaching conversations daily.

Managing results is undoubtedly important - but it's only half the leader's job. The other half is managing values - how people treat each other in the workplace.

The problem is that most leaders have never been asked to manage values. All they know is how to manage results.

How can leaders increase their awareness of the quality of their contact center's work culture? These three telltale signs are indicators of a less-than-healthy work environment.

Lack of Trust

If team members don't trust their leaders or their peers, they spend time and energy on protecting themselves. They question plans, decisions, and actions by those they distrust. They don't immediately act on requests or demands from distrusted leaders and peers.

Mistrust of leaders is by far a more damaging dynamic. People can insulate themselves a bit more easily from distrusted peers in the workplace. Distrusted leaders are ever present.

Distrust is most frequently caused by people not doing what they say they will do, by them missing commitments frequently and not taking responsibility for their misses.

So, team members wait. They observe. They resist. They do the minimum.

Lack of Respect

Disrespect plays out differently than distrust. Disrespect can be bold or subtle. It can be as bold as a leader dismissing a player's efforts accomplishments to their face or as subtle as a peer teasing a team member about their attire or accent or passions.

If leaders only pay attention to results, unintended consequences can erode respect. Team members may learn that they can beat their peers on today's shift by withholding information or poaching customers. They can mess with their peers' concentration by swiping their lunch from the communal fridge or moving their jackets from their spot in the closet.

In a disrespectful culture, team members can't relax. They can't be confident that their workspace or routines will serve them well today. So, they're on guard. They invest energy in protecting themselves. They're on the lookout for the next disrespectful act - and it usually won't take long before one happens.

Lack of Cohesiveness

Cohesiveness is the degree of cooperative interaction that takes place across a work team.  If cohesion is low, you'll see team members come into work, not greet or visit with peers, and immediately put on their headsets and engage in customer calls (inbound or outbound).

If cohesion is low, team members won't spend much time in a group. They'll likely have a few close friends that they engage with at work, but don't proactively engage with the majority of their teammates.

With low cohesiveness, you'll not see high participation in team lunches or work parties. Team members will come in for a slice of pizza and sing "Happy Birthday," but they'll head back to their cubicles quickly. Nor will you see active participation in community events or service opportunities where team members engage with the public (fundraisers, blood drives, etc.).

So, team members insulate themselves. They "do their thing," without proactively engaging with many others during the workday. They're committed primarily to their tasks - not to bonding or cooperating with others at work.

To eliminate trust issues, respect issues, and cohesiveness issues, leaders must make values as important as results. They must model civil, kind, and supportive treatment of everyone in every interaction. They must celebrate aligned behaviors and redirect misaligned behaviors.

Consistency, clarity, and follow through is how leaders and peers can build trust, respect, and cohesiveness.

Don't leave the quality of your contact center work environment - the health of workplace relationships - to chance. Pay close attention to the degree of trust, respect, and cohesiveness demonstrated by every player. Validate desired behaviors and don't tolerate undesired behaviors, every day.