Contact Centres: The ‘no-time-to-coach’ approach is costing you dearly
By Brad Thomas
Contact centre working environments are changing rapidly. They will never be the same again.
The last two years has seen a significant shift to remote working, with some of Australia’s most recognised brands making the shift permanently. Employees now realise the whole country and even the world has opened as an opportunity to find work from the comfort of their own home.
Employers have been put on notice, “Pay attention or I’m out.”
The knock-on effect is huge. Higher attrition rates lead to organisations spending more time on hiring new staff. The reduction in staff is driving high call queues and low service levels. Low service levels are driving cancelled training, observation, and coaching, and the ‘no-time-to-coach’ cycle goes on.
Whilst organisations acknowledge that employees still require development, leaders are so encumbered by ‘other stuff’ that organisations are looking for learner-led digitised solutions to eliminate the leader from the process all together.
But this approach is leading to extremely low completion rates and almost zero return on investment.
Leader-led or learner-led?
So which approach is best, leader-led or learner-led development?
Leader-led is great, however it hinges on the leader having both the time and the capability to coach and develop their team.
Learner-led is great, however it hinges on the learner being motivated to learn. Let’s face it, most employees have zero desire to learn the stuff organisations need their people to learn. It’s simply a tick-the-box exercise aimed at compliance or conduct risk learning.
If we don’t have time to coach and we can’t take people off the phones, the logical first thought tends to be “Let’s get learners to learn at their desks…in between calls…in the flow of work, so leaders can get on with their administrative tasks.”
How will you ever know the learning is being applied if no one checks? How will you identify the root causes of retention or potential flight risks if you aren’t spending time with your employees?
The intention of both solutions is sound but neither works in isolation.
So, what’s the answer?
Research has shown that 70% of the variance in employee engagement ties back to the manager. (https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/182792/managers-account-variance-employee-engagement.aspx). So clearly, removing them from the equation is not an option.
Leaders must remain connected with their employees regardless of the learning vehicle. Leaders should never be left on the sidelines.
Organisations must find smart ways to build a new operating rhythm that reflects the current environment, not eliminate the rhythm all together.
Connected leadership is leadership that:
- Maintains regular contact with team members despite high call queues
- Favors short sharp observation of skills and provides immediate feedback in the flow of work
- Intentionally demonstrates that employees are important despite environmental challenges
- Finds smarter ways to eliminate busy administrative work and replace it with activities that embed new capability and employee learning
- Ensures new learning is applied daily and is of high quality
- Puts employees at the centre.
Leaders need to spend time ensuring skills and capabilities learned are embedded effectively, but this doesn’t need to be a huge amount of time. Small chunks of time more often is all it takes. And that’s a huge improvement on ‘no time at all’.
Connected leadership is a daily activity and organisations can support their leaders by:
- Ensuring leaders have the skills and capabilities to connect with their team
- Encouraging leaders to be smart about where they spend their time
- Finding a system that supports leaders to complete observation, feedback and embedding activity
- Finding a way to measure their operating rhythm, and hold them and the organization accountable for prioritising time spent with employees
- Encouraging leaders to follow up with their team after training interventions
- Encouraging leaders to observe their team members using the new skills learned on the job
- Providing leaders with best practice libraries of what great looks like
YakTrak can help with all of this.
Involving leaders in the process improves:
- Leadership accountability
- Employee engagement
- The bottom line
Thought and consideration should also be put into the quality of the learning interventions. They should align with how most learners like to learn these days. Learners prefer:
- Learning that is accessible from mobile devices.
- Learning that is fun, entertaining and turns tired content into something interesting. (The GIST by GRIST is a great example of having fun with learning.)
- Smaller, bite-sized chunks of learning that can be learned in one minute, not one hour.
- Learning that demonstrates a connection to their role and career.
- Learning that allows employees to track their own development and goals via a personalised development app.
Ultimately, the current approach isn’t working. Employees are leaving their employers for greener pastures in droves. Show your employees that you value and respect them. Engage in Connected Leadership.
Looking for more insights about employee retention in contact centres?
Head to our Contact Centre Resources page, where we share insights about the challenge of retention in call and contact centres along with simple bite sized actions that you and your people can do now, so you can focus on the things that matter.
Want to find out how YakTrak can help?
If you want to find out more about how YakTrak can help improve retention and drive employee development outcomes in your contact centre get in touch with us today.