For many years, the contact center industry has been an important part of the labor market for the U.S. It’s also been very important to the economies of both India and the Philippines. While much has been reported about on-shoring, off-shoring, and near-shoring of contact center jobs among various global economies – the industry continues to experience growth. And one certainty remains across the entire industry. Finding and retaining qualified contact center workers (especially leaders) is a challenge.
Does Contact Center Industry Size Matter
Per Malcolm Gladwell – the tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.
For years, organizations have underfunded the development of it’s leaders. Even today, a recent study by Deloitte revealed that 56% of executives believe their companies are not ready to meet today’s leadership needs. And traditionally when reviewing corporate investing on leadership development, the contact center is a lower level priority.
But can the continual growth in the contact center industry along with the increasing need for qualified workers, specifically leaders, cause this under-funding to tip? Does the contact center industry size cause this issues to matter more?
The contact center linchpin – Team Leader/Supervisor/Manager
The Frontline Supervisor (FLS) is the person who is responsible for getting the work of the contact center done. Depending on the contact center their titles may vary between Team Leader, Supervisor, and even Manager.
The FLS’s are a very important asset of any contact center. They are the linchpin that holds together the company and the contact center agents. Their job is to manage individual agents performance to company targets, measure their performance, coach, train, terminate, manage staffing schedules, quality monitor, review and develop reports, provide feedback, and listen.
The FLS is responsible for keeping their agents informed of what is happening with the center, company, and anything that may impact on the agents. The FLS may also get involved in the recruitment of new agents.
Going beyond technical skill
The FLS is often known to be one of the most technically skilled people in the contact center. They know the most about the company, it’s systems, policies, inner workings, products, services, and it’s customers.
But the most critical skills required for a FLS are those associated with leadership. They must inspire, coach, communicate, build relationships, and manage change. It is the FLS who provides feedback on performance to agents. The FLS’s need to support agents to reach the targets the company has set.
The FLS’s relationship with his or her own employees is a critical component of contact center success. A FLS role in a contact center is critical because it is they who will be the main influence on agent performance. The collective of individual performance is combined to achieve the overall center performance. Ultimately, the FLS is how the contact center achieves its targets.
Paul Larsen writes in his book, Find Your Voice as a Leader that contrary to urban myth, good leaders are trained and developed over time. That means that no matter what your background or previous experience has been, you can learn to be an effective and powerful leader.
Frontline Supervisor Training
The FLS position mandates a series of skillful maneuvers that very few people are equipped to handle. The FLS most often is placed into their role from the frontline agent position because of higher performance and showing the initiative. But this career change is seldom planned for, and their skills to lead are often lacking.
Since the FLS must be in place for the day-to-day operation of the contact center to occur, skill development is often superseded by the demands of the business. Many FLS’s never receive the critical skill development to succeed in their role.
“Many Supervisors never receive the critical skill development to succeed in their role.” Click to Tweet
Supervisors take control
The FLS needs to focus on development and learning that goes beyond company-sponsored training. The FLS should find opportunities to learn more about being a FLS as a discipline and it’s associated competencies. Following the Supervisor Success Path will improve their worth to the company and themselves.
Senior management is rarely a viable source for developing the FSL. They are most often consumed with more long-term and strategic responsibilities and have very little capacity to take on the responsibilities in developing the FSL. In many instances a FLS reports to people who have never been a FLS and themselves are not aware of the competencies.
Don’t wait, take control. In an article for Forbes, Jenny Bertolette, vice president of communications, for Meals on Wheels said, “…giving control to employees to pursue their own development communicates trust and relieves pressures on both budgets and on leaders…”
You own your own career. Push hard to create ways to make it happen. Tip things in your favor.