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Cultivating Happiness in the Workplace: #ICMIchat

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On February 25, contact center and customer experience professionals converged in #ICMIchat to discuss what it takes to cultivate workplace happiness. Roy Atkinson led the discussion, which was inspired by a TIME article, "5 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Happier at Work".

A preview of the #ICMIchat questions for March 3, 2020, follow this rundown.

Happier Agents Are More Productive

A study found that customer service agents "who were in a good mood in the morning were more productive during the day and reported having more positive interactions with customers." It seems that contact center practitioners agreed!

Sheri Kendall says, "Happy people tend to enjoy what they are doing and are more productive. Creativity and innovation are often a byproduct of happy employees."

I weighed in and said employee happiness is a good indicator of intrinsic motivation. I suspect that employees who are personally driven to do a good job are more likely to go the extra mile and give customers their all. Magnetic Experiences seemed to agree, noting, "In terms of CX, happier employees do often provide better experience to your customers!"

Dave Dyson is quick to point out that "there are happy unproductive employees, and unhappy productive ones. But if work is what's making employees unhappy, they'll usually be less productive than otherwise."

Rituals Start the Day Off Right

Many of us have a morning routine, but some of the chat participants have deliberate rituals to get the day kicked off right. It seems that contact center pros like to dive right in. Our host, Roy Atkinson, says he likes to jump in headfirst! Dave also wants to get right to it, which includes "clearing the chaff from my unread emails, and looking for easy wins, like questions I can answer quickly."

Jason Curtis begins his days by reflecting on yesterday's performance. He says, "I have an email I send daily with the previous days stats, sales, call/chat volumes, etc. It's nice to see how yesterday went to see if I have anything to address." For me, I like to leverage my early-morning burst of energy to sneak in quick wins before lunch.

Troy White enjoys checking in with his employees, first thing. He likes to ask, "how are they doing and listen to what they say. Everyone started to look forward to starting their day out knowing I notice they are there."

Both Sheri and Jason enjoy starting their days with Man's Best Friend. Sheri added that meditation, working out, and a light breakfast are surefire ways to begin on a positive note.

Preventing Decision Fatigue

The crew had mixed feelings about decision fatigue, but some are taking steps to reduce the number of decisions they must make every day. Sheri shared that she has the same thing for breakfast and…limited my wardrobe." Jessie Schutz said, "I need to do my routine daily tasks in the same order every day. I tend to do things catch-as-catch-can, which makes me flit between tasks and forget things."

Creating a Supportive Culture

Leslie O'Flahavan kicked off our culture question by suggesting that "meaningful, authentic, training and learning experiences that lead to more challenging work" are the key to creating a supportive culture. She also noted that sometimes quality assurance scoring could take things too far, such as by counting "ums," and create an "oppressive work environment."

Similarly, Jason added, "don't micromanage. Let people be themselves. Explain the whys behind your work philosophy. In a nutshell, include them in the journey, and help them see that they own a piece of it. Then let them do what they need to do to own their piece."

Craig Stoss advised leaders to "action every concern. No matter how insignificant it seems to you, if someone has expressed a concern to you as a leader, you need to show some action towards resolution. In my experience, you don't have to resolve every concern, just show you tried."

Coping With Deadlines

Deadlines can be challenging to manage, and they can even lead to undue stress! Here's what contact center experts had to say about keeping them in check:

Jessie: "For real, though, I live and die by lists. I make a checklist of everything that needs to be done, in the order in which it needs to be done. It's the only way I accomplish anything."

Leslie: "Big deadlines don't challenge my motivation; they challenge my stamina. I don't have a problem with motivation, but I do occasionally run out of capacity."

Dave: "I ask myself these questions: 1. What's the next step I can take? 2. What do I need help with? and 3. What non-required things can be considered ‘stretch goals’ and cut if necessary?"

What's Going Well

Roy asked our contact center and customer experience professionals about what's going well for their teams this year. Leslie is making training accessible; she says: "Last week, I delivered a writing course for a company that has several employees with #autism. These employees fully participated in and contributed to the session. That went well!"

Troy reenergized his team by working together with them to create a new mission statement. He tells us, "We have not changed the mission statement in years and in that time things have changed." He added, "This was impactful because the team collaborated together on what they represent as a team and not just leadership telling them what they expect from them." Kudos to Troy, that's a thoughtful and rewarding initiative to undertake!

Dave is making the most of the week by collaborating with other groups: "Hopefully, a cross-departmental meeting I chaired yesterday will lead to a lot of collaboration and improved #CX over the rest of this year. Time will tell, of course!"

Hop into #ICMIchat next Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET, and share your knowledge with the contact center community! Here's a preview of our discussion:

#ICMIchat "Coaching Catastrophes" (March 3, 2020) - The Questions

Andrew Gilliam guides the debate about coaching contact center agents. We hope you'll share your experiences on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific on Twitter.

Q1: What is performance coaching?

Q2: Is the word "coaching" ever a euphemism? How does this affect its effectiveness?

Q3: Have you ever had a bad coaching experience? What went wrong?

Q4: How have good coaching experiences helped you grow and improve your performance? What went right?

Q5: How might coaching influence employee engagement and retention?

Q6: What are the keys to a successful coaching program?

Q7: How would you respond to an employee who is resistant to coaching or feedback?

Q8: What is the most important thing a new leader/manager should know about coaching?