Orit Avital, General Manager at Ottorita, discusses the importance of managing managers in the contact center to improve performance.
Managing a contact center is a complex task that encompasses many types of management. Apart from advisors, you need to monitor the impact of team leaders, shift supervisors, managers, trainers and knowledge managers etc. on overall performance. The management task itself requires you to have skills of “manager management”.
Moreover, in many contact centers, the intermediate management team (whether task or people managers) were likely promoted from other areas of the contact center and have little other experience of management. So, the task of managing managers is not trivial.
How Can We Better Support Managers?
In order to better manage managers, we must, amongst other things, have good mentoring and development skills, authority delegation, high level of interpersonal communication etc.
While some of you may already have these skills, it is good practise to create routines that allow us to expand on them and improve contact center performance.
These routines will also have the aim of making the complex task of manager management easier for you and they will provide you with practical tools for the advancement and development of the management team reporting to you.
A strong management team provides the basis for a strong contact center. So, here are five routines that will help to better support your contact center managers.
1. The Daily Brief
Do not let a day go by without a meeting with all of your management team. These aren’t supposed to be long meetings, but a timeframe of 15 minutes is ideal, at the start of each day.
In this time, managers can share the progress of any of their initiatives, their planned itinerary and best practices with one another. This will keep everyone up to speed with each area of the contact center and help to create a community feel.
The daily brief also provides an excellent opportunity to exercise one of the most important management principles in the management of managers – transparency.
Share the irregular issues with them, on the level of your schedule and burning issues which have not reached them yet. Together you can create a plan, across all departments, which will help to eradicate these niggling issues.
2. Come With Solutions, Not Just Problems
Every time that any one of your management team approaches you, you may know that they have a question or they want to describe a problem which they need a solution for. Well, not every time, but most of the time, right?
In the management of mangers, you must ensure the development of their independence – their ability to make decisions and constantly see the big picture.
For that purpose, adopt a procedure – with every problem, the manager must approach you with one or more solutions that they had thought of themselves. Even if the solution is incomplete or totally inadequate, listen, respond and move forward to the practical part. This approach will subtly remind them that they are part of the management team and therefore they are also responsible for finding the solution.
With proper and consistent adaptation of your messages, you will likely discover that your managers become more independent and confident in the execution of their managerial tasks. An important and good result.
3. Be Wary of Micromanagement
Often, managers in the contact centers have a tendency to break down tasks by assigning little parts of each task to different people in the team. This means that besides being an executional arm, the manager has little room left for any thought or involvement in the decision making.
There are tasks that do have to be approached in this manner, which require you to go in to the smallest details. However, not all tasks are like that.
Micromanagement could leave your managerial team without real significance in their activity, preventing their professional growth and thwarting the development of their leadership skills.
So, when charged with a new tasks and a manager may consider delegating parts of that task, ask your managers; “Which decisions do you need to take control of?”
By asking managers to think like this will help them to think over the practicalities of management and engage with their previous experiences. This requires managerial courage, however, the gain in strengthening the managerial team is invaluably higher.
4. Feedback Is a Must
You have implemented a great way of harnessing customer and advisor feedback in your contact center. However, many contact center managers forget that the managerial team reporting to them also need feedback and mentoring.
Two of the most important skills required from those who manage managers are mentoring and training skills.
Do you want to be good managers’ managers? Ensure that you have a feedback routine (regularly and on-the-go) and coach managers with this information, while providing positive emphases, as well as points for improvement.
Look at areas such as the manner of briefing, the conversations they are having with their people, the areas in which performance levels are changing and so on, to give your feedback.
Real coaching and effective manager development require you to provide promotional feedback on a regular basis – make this your routine.
5. Regular Managers’ Meetings
We often come across statements such as; “I see them all the time and they can talk to us any time – we do not need a meeting”, or; “we are together all the time, what is there left to talk about?” Sounds familiar?
Whether yes or no, it is important to emphasise – one of the main purposes of a regular managers’ meeting (the one which is not routinely cancelled or forgotten) is to focus all of the managerial team on the main issues on the agenda.
Within the regular commotion of managing the contact center, we all think we know what is necessary and how little time we may have for conversation and sharing. However, setting time aside for this will allow you to deeply understand your managers’ situation, provide supportive tools and practical solutions, and remined them that they are not alone. They are part of a team and everyone has the same goal.
It is important to understand that manager management is a task of its own merit, which requires you to develop your skills.
Whenever we talk about skills development, creating routines will not come far behind as they are mechanisms that help us to continuously improve.
So, encourage solution based thinking, guard against micromanagement and encourage conversation and sharing, as these are all things that will help managers to think for themselves and improve overall contact center performance further.
What else can you do? Read a book on the issue of management, listen to a lecture, find methods to improve your practical capabilities in managers’ management – learn the issue in depth and you will likely discover that the results will not be far behind.