Date Published: February 28, 2023 - Last Updated 70 Days, 21 Hours, 43 Minutes ago
Does your contact center jokingly reference certain teams as “Bad News Bears”?
I may be dating myself, but this 1976 movie (see the preview to the right) depicts a little league baseball team of rejects and misfits that possess little work ethic and pride. They are a careless and lackluster team with a sarcastic coach who grows frustrated with the responsibility to produce a respectable team. Eventually, the team overcame overwhelming growing pains to improve their craft and become a contender for the championship. (I should note that this movie is definitely culturally insensitive, but it has still become a part of our cultural lexicon.)
Contact centers are typically composed of individual teams tasked to meet common goals determined by the organization. The success of the business unit falls mainly on these teams to meet established goals such as KPI’s (key performance indicators) and performance guarantees while maintaining dependability with attendance and compliance.
In the ever fluid environment of a contact center, employees can be moved from one team to another for various reasons, such as attrition, company growth or realignment. At times these moves can be done abruptly, resulting in little analysis of current team structures and impact.
When these hasty moves go unchecked, team equity becomes off balance, which alters the preferred level playing field for all teams. We can agree a team stacked with challenging employees is a time-consuming and exhausting climate for the supervisor (I’ve been there!). It is also a hard pill to swallow for an employee to see a fellow team member slacking and not pulling their weight; this can lead to resentment and conflict within the team. Therefore, it behooves us to take the necessary steps to ensure team equity.
To have the best chance of operational success, it’s a good practice to regularly audit team structures to ensure equity across the board. Each supervisor should have an equitable number of employees, as well as equity with high/mid/low performers. This approach will allow supervisors to effectively and efficiently manage their teams.
Such an approach can, in turn, produce the following benefits:
- Improved/optimal team performance – the supervisor has more space to coach to results, inspire/develop employees to better performance, and hold those with lacking performance and behaviors accountable.
- The team will have confidence their supervisor is managing with integrity and fairness. A team that respects their supervisor and believes they are doing the right thing is priceless, as this feeling facilitates camaraderie, teamwork, and pride.
- The supervisor has space to breathe and be proactive through planning and strategizing on key initiates and team dynamics. Such actions will result in a more prepared, equipped, and informed team.
- The supervisor has space to engage with the team as a group and individually. Taking time to talk with team members about their personal lives, goals, and accomplishments is key to creating engaged and motivated teams.
- It gives the supervisor space to improve their own work/life balance. Team equity can reduce a heavier workload, allowing the supervisor to get involved in passion projects or self-development interests.
The best practice is to spread the wealth of top performers and the challenge of lacking performers.
Also, contact centers should ensure each supervisor/team manager has the skills, attitudes, zeal, and basic desire to manage people. It should not be, and will not be, a quick fix to move challenging employees to another team because that supervisor may have solid coaching or interpersonal skills. If your organization has a “go to” supervisor to handle challenging employees, they will eventually grow weary and frustrated with the added pressures of a demanding team.
Instead of building a Bad News Bears team, consider doing the following:
- Take the timely opportunity to ensure all supervisors are equipped to fulfill and execute the role. Training courses and mentorship are options, as well as job shadowing with more experienced supervisors.
- Set regular team equity sessions to assure each team is fairly aligned.
- Even better, make these equity sessions an inclusive exercise by including all supervisors. They can speak to specific strengths and opportunities of the employees and collaborate on necessary action plans to ensure a smooth transition.
Team equity is the way to go! Let’s be sure to give each supervisor a level playing field to develop a dynamic and well-rounded team. Soon, the Bad News Bears stigma will come to an end in your contact center.
(Editor's note - if you decide, for some reason, to watch The Bad News Bears in its entirity, you may find this movie doesn’t age well when it comes to its depiction of alcoholism, or its handling of diversity and issues of gender equity.)