Team leaders play a hugely important role in the success of your contact centre.
Effective team leaders transmit your company goals to their agents, ensure that targets are met, care for the evolving needs of their team and help to surface insights and issues from the floor.
Ineffective team leaders antagonise their agents, misinterpret corporate goals, lose track of targets and fail to identify important lessons to be learned from customers.
Team leaders play a pivotal role in the success – or not – of your contact centre.
At the same time, too many team leaders are thrust into their role after excelling on the front line, with little time or consideration given to their training and development. Leading a team is a very different challenge to fielding customer queries, and all new team leaders should be given training and support as they find their feet.
Let’s consider some of the ways you can develop a resilient squad of team leaders who can encourage their agents to smash targets and exceed expectations.
Developing team leaders
One of the challenges of development in contact centres is the time pressure associated with the ringing phone and the bursting inbox. How can you develop your team leaders, while also maintaining their focus on your day-to-day activities?
Level-up management skills
Leading a team requires a host of new skills, many of which do not come naturally. Don’t expect your best agents to automatically have the soft skills required of a line manager – or to know how to provide the kind of pastoral care that agents may need. All team leaders require training so that they understand the remit of their role, how to deliver and how to develop. Team leaders are too important to be left to gather these skills under their own steam.
Stay grounded to the floor
Team leaders need to retain an understanding of the pressures on agents, and the reality of the work they’re doing. This means you’ll need to account for time spent on the floor when planning schedules. Make sure they have time to listen to calls and speak with agents. Not only will this forge stronger relationships between the teams, but you will also get a better flow of information, inspiration and ideas between management and agents.
Understand and embody the company vision
One of the simplest ways to keep everyone in your company pulling in the same direction is to ensure that all team members understand your vision and values. Team leaders can play a crucial role in connecting agents to the wider value of their work, and helping agents understand how their interactions are vital to enhancing the customer experience, retaining customers and developing the company’s reputation.
Peer support and sharing
Team leaders should have opportunities to connect with their peers, share ideas and learn from each other. This can be facilitated with monthly team leader meetings, networking or sharing sessions. Team leaders might also be tasked with developing a shared presentation or project to encourage them to work together.
While you want team leaders to bridge the gap between management and agents on the floor, it’s also important that they begin to look up (and ahead) and to think about the company beyond the contact centre. For example, you might task a team leader with reporting to a management meeting, networking with senior team members or visiting other sites. Your team leaders may also benefit from mentoring so that they can be primed to take on more challenging roles in future.
How does your organisation develop team leaders? Do you find time for development? Or does development get de-prioritised?