During February we celebrate Valentine’s Day, a holiday focused on making people feel special by telling them and showing them how much we appreciate and love them.
Making people feel special should be more than one day on the calendar and this is especially true for managers.
Sometimes we get caught up in the process and procedure part of our jobs to the point that we lose the human connection with our teams. Instead, we should learn to be a manager with “heart” without losing our technical skills and knowledge.
Ask yourself if you’ve been guilty of some of these missed opportunities to engage with your team:
1) Your shows of appreciation are becoming mechanical and process driven
Review the past few months in terms of fun activities or appreciation opportunities. Have your motivation and reward efforts been focused only on specific holidays, birthday celebrations and the same old monthly contest, or did you also have some random appreciation days?
Leaving a thank you note on an agent’s desk for above and beyond customer experience will make their day. Announcing that today is national candy day and leaving a treat on everyone’s desk will bring lot’s of smiles.
2) Are you giving kudos to the top agents only or to the top and those showing improvement too?
Managers with heart understand that not every agent is going to be number one in quality and productivity. Some agents may be average in performance but they may also be making efforts to improve.
Rewarding the top agents may be motivating for them but if the same agents win week after week, you’ll find those making efforts and not getting anywhere will lose their motivation. Find ways to reward for a variety of reasons that bring success for your customers.
Agents who are willing and able to learn need to have love too!
3) Showing concern for employee problems shouldn’t turn into over-involved sympathy
Unfortunately some managers with heart confuse empathy with sympathy, much as some agents do with their customers. These managers go too far with personal involvement in employee problems, spending too much time with an employee with these issues.
Agents notice when there are too many closed-door meetings with one particular troubled agent. Some may feel jealous of the manager’s time spent with this coworker, others feel stuck covering the agent’s calls and emails in addition to their own work. A few may think that the agent is getting special favors from the manager.
While it’s important to always listen to employees and show concern, we need to make sure that we don’t cross the line from empathy into over-involvement with one agent.
4) Engaging with your team or just rushing through your center on the way to your office?
Our attitude for the day begins the moment we wake up. Managers with heart recognize that few, if any, agents wake up and say, “I’m so excited to go to work today!” Our job is to make our agents feel welcome and as positive as possible.
On occasion I’ve observed some managers arriving for work furtively making their way to their desk and avoiding all eye contact. They appeared to be on a spy mission. Agents have told me that they see their manager arrive and when they leave for the day but rarely in between those times.
Managers with heart walk through their center and greet everyone by name as they encounter them. They comment on any successes, thank everyone for being there and save the doom and gloom reports for those times when they are absolutely necessary to share.
This manager with heart creates many smiles that are reflected in the agent calls and interactions with customers and even coworkers too.
5) Are your meetings just about technical procedures, product updates and complaints about what Agents aren’t doing?
All managers need to hold regular meetings to share information, train and answer questions from their teams. Some are so focused on technical points and failures with customers, that the meeting becomes more negative as time goes on. I’ve observed agents remain totally silent, afraid that anything they said would be viewed as a negative or taking the meeting “off track”.
A manager with heart never misses the opportunity to reward and encourage during the meeting by mentioning even small improvements or by asking agents to share how they successfully helped a customer or for ideas to help improve the center.
6) Are your supervisors and team leads getting appreciation too?
Showing appreciation doesn’t begin and end with our agents. Managers with heart understand that the frontline leaders are responsible for coaching and motivating everyone, even the most challenging agents. Not an easy job to say the least.
Our center performance is directly affected by the way our supervisors and leads interact with agents everyday. Your frontline pros need to know that you appreciate their leadership efforts, support their good decisions, and that you recognize them more than once or twice a year in a formal review.
Get out of the appreciation and recognition rut. Make a daily effort to engage with and appreciate members of your team. Find opportunities to show that you are a Manager with Heart.
Happy Valentine’s Day…everyday!