The ProblemMany people within the contact centre industry say that having effectiveteam leaders is one of the most important factors of a successfuloperationHowever, the amount of time that organisations spend developing peoplein these roles, particularly when they are first appointed, varies greatly inpracticeIn organisations where team leader development is given a low priority,there can be many detrimental impacts on performance.
Management ImplicationsA regular observation in contact centres is that Senior managers in contact centres shouldteam leaders are the most important people in review the effectiveness of team leaderthe centre. However, people in these roles often development within their own areas ofreceive little or no development, either prior to influence. They can do this by reference to thetheir appointment or when they are in position principles outlined in the presentation and assessing their own contact centres position inIn many cases the job of the team leader has each areabecome more complex. The lack ofdevelopment of team leaders can therefore There is a need for the contact centre to have ahave detrimental impacts in a number of areas clear strategy for team leaderof contact centre performance; including development, which is reviewed regularly, tocustomer service, performance ensure it is consistent with what is requiredmanagement, employee morale and staff from the role holder.retention levels
Seven Principles to Grow Leaders1. Selection 6. A strategy for2. Training leadership3. Line managers a development leadership mentors 7. Backing from senior4. The chance to lead management5. Education for leadership From John Adair: How to Grow Leaders
Selection Adair says that the natural or best way of selection is to know and observe the person over a period of time and in a variety of revealing if not testing situations Some key areas to consider when selecting new leaders1. Leadership and teamwork – including energy, enthusiasm and initiative2. Decision making - problem solving and thinking skills3. Communication skills – speaking, listening and writing4. Self management – including time management skills and the ability to organise oneself5. Personal qualities – including enthusiasm and integrity John Adair: How to Grow Leaders
TrainingNew leaders selected from internal candidates do not need technical or processtrainingThey need to start thinking about leadership and to start understanding thecontext of their role in the organisationRecently I was thinking of examples of organisations I have seen that are good at training new team leaders.An organisation, which I grew to know well in the ambulance service, has a structured approach to training fornewly appointed team leaders. Initially, they send their new team leaders on a short course; two-days over amonth or so. The days concentrate on the role of leadership, leadership styles, what is expected from teamleaders in the performance management framework and effective communication. Participants also discussthe vision of their organisation, together with some of the core values that are required to be a leader within it.There are plenty of opportunities for team problem solving and role plays. The days are productive and a goodstarting point.
Line Managers as Leadership Mentors All new team leaders require one-to-one support from line managers as leadership mentors, particularly in fast changing organisations They benefit by discussing the situations they are finding in their day-to-day environment and working through ideas with a more experienced person Mentors do not solve problems; they step forward, when asked, and provide resources and help. They do not hover. They monitor results and measurements, yet serve as a resource to be drawn upon when needed.Cooper. R. and Ayman S. (1997), Executive EQ
The Chance to LeadLeaders grow by facing and surmounting even more difficult leadership challenges. Iforganisations want to grow leaders – or at least create the conditions necessary forgrowth – they can do no better than to give potential leaders the chance to lead.John Adair: How to Grow LeadersThere is limited evidence when working on consultancy assignments of organisationsthat implement a successful approach to this issue. Some team leaders gain experienceby working on project teams or in other departments as part of their development. Theymay also undertake some aspects of their line managers role or complete activities likechairing meetings or giving presentations. However, it is rare to find a team leader in thisposition who has a clear development plan where they understand the immediate goalsand underlying objectives.
Education for LeadershipLooking externally for suitable courses and development opportunities for newlyappointed leadersTeam leaders, who have started in their role, benefit from participating inexternal programmes to build skills and knowledgeProgrammes typically involve a mix between formal teaching, case studies anddiscussions about things happening back in their workplaceOne of the major benefits of the approach is that it brings new team leaders intocontact with external parties; people who work in other companies and sectorsand external tutors who bring a different perspective on problems and issues.
Is there sufficient focus on selecting and developing new team leaders? Are the outcomes of selection processes built into subsequent development programmes?A Strategy for Are there clear processes to ensure that newly appointed team leaders receiveLeadership training covering the skills they will need to successfully lead their people?Development What is the process for mentoring new team leaders? Do line managers effectively mentor their team leaders?Does the Organisation have Is there a balance at each level in leadership development between training and in role development; such as appropriate project work or secondment?a strategy in place forleadership development? Is there a balance between the part that the company will play in leadership development and the part the individual will play?It needs to be a core focus of Are there any opportunities for team leaders to develop outside of thethe Organisation organisation?It is too important to be left to What is the role of external training providers? Are the services they providethe Human Resources evaluated on a regular basis?Department alone How is the overall leadership development strategy evaluated for effectiveness? How do senior managers in the organisation play a part in showing they sponsor the strategy?
Backing from Senior ManagementStrategic leaders, at the top of the organisation, have a fundamental role to playin the whole strategy of growing leaders at all levelsThe difficulty is, of course, that if the senior management of the company do notback fully the strategy for leadership development, both in words and actionsthen it becomes much harder to implementWhere the top strategic leader is not involved in or committed to the work ofdeveloping leadership, in my experience, you may as well forget it.John Adair: How to Grow Leaders
ConclusionsTeam leader development is clearly a very important part of any contact centre operationin order to maximise performance. However the fact is that organisations differ in howwell they develop and grow their team leadersIn organisations with a poor track record in this area there can often be high costscaused by ineffective frontline leadership; both in terms of a lower customer experienceand lower employee moraleThere is a need for a robust and effective strategy for team leader development whichencompasses training, selection, mentoring, education and the chance to lead as well asthe part senior managers themselves play. The strategy needs to be reviewed on aregular basis to ensure it remains effective and current to the needs of the team leaderrole in practice.
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