How Do You Grow
FROM THE BLOG AT GEOFFHARDY1.WORDPRESS.COM
Many people within the contact centre industry say that having effective
team leaders is one of the most important factors of a successful
However, the amount of time that organisations spend developing people
in these roles, particularly when they are first appointed, varies greatly in
In organisations where team leader development is given a low priority,
there can be many detrimental impacts on performance.
A regular observation in contact centres is that
team leaders are the most important people in
the centre. However, people in these roles often
receive little or no development, either prior to
their appointment or when they are in position
In many cases the job of the team leader has
become more complex. The lack of
development of team leaders can therefore
have detrimental impacts in a number of areas
of contact centre performance; including
customer service, performance management,
employee morale and staff retention levels
Senior managers in contact centres should
review the effectiveness of team leader
development within their own areas of
influence. They can do this by reference to the
principles outlined in the presentation and
assessing their own contact centres position in
There is a need for the contact centre to have a
clear strategy for team leader development,
which is reviewed regularly, to ensure it is
consistent with what is required from the role
Seven Principles to Grow Leaders
3. Line managers a
4. The chance to lead
5. Education for
6. A strategy for
7. Backing from senior
From John Adair: How to Grow Leaders
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 leaders
1. Leadership and teamwork – including energy, enthusiasm and initiative
2. Decision making - problem solving and thinking skills
3. Communication skills – speaking, listening and writing
4. Self management – including time management skills and the ability to organise oneself
5. Personal qualities – including enthusiasm and integrity
John Adair: How to Grow Leaders
New leaders selected from internal candidates do not need technical or process
They need to start thinking about leadership and to start understanding the
context of their role in the organisation
Recently 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 for
newly appointed team leaders. Initially, they send their new team leaders on a short course; two-days over a
month or so. The days concentrate on the role of leadership, leadership styles, what is expected from team
leaders in the performance management framework and effective communication. Participants also discuss
the 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 good
Line Managers as Leadership
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 Lead
Leaders grow by facing and surmounting even more difficult leadership challenges. If
organisations want to grow leaders – or at least create the conditions necessary for
growth – they can do no better than to give potential leaders the chance to lead.
John Adair: How to Grow Leaders
There is limited evidence when working on consultancy assignments of organisations
that implement a successful approach to this issue. Some team leaders gain experience
by working on project teams or in other departments as part of their development. They
may also undertake some aspects of their line managers role or complete activities like
chairing meetings or giving presentations. However, it is rare to find a team leader in this
position who has a clear development plan where they understand the immediate goals
and underlying objectives.
Education for Leadership
Looking externally for suitable courses and development opportunities for newly
Team leaders, who have started in their role, benefit from participating in
external programmes to build skills and knowledge
Programmes typically involve a mix between formal teaching, case studies and
discussions about things happening back in their workplace
One of the major benefits of the approach is that it brings new team leaders into
contact with external parties; people who work in other companies and sectors
and external tutors who bring a different perspective on problems and issues.
A Strategy for
Is there sufficient focus on selecting and developing new team leaders?
Are the outcomes of selection processes built into subsequent development
Are there clear processes to ensure that newly appointed team leaders receive
training covering the skills they will need to successfully lead their people?
What is the process for mentoring new team leaders? Do line managers
effectively mentor their team leaders?
Is there a balance at each level in leadership development between training and
in role development; such as appropriate project work or secondment?
Is there a balance between the part that the company will play in leadership
development and the part the individual will play?
Are there any opportunities for team leaders to develop outside of the
What is the role of external training providers? Are the services they provide
evaluated on a regular basis?
How is the overall leadership development strategy evaluated for effectiveness?
How do senior managers in the organisation play a part in showing they sponsor
Does the Organisation have
a strategy in place for
It needs to be a core focus of
It is too important to be left to
the Human Resources
Backing from Senior Management
Strategic leaders, at the top of the organisation, have a fundamental role to play
in the whole strategy of growing leaders at all levels
The difficulty is, of course, that if the senior management of the company do not
back fully the strategy for leadership development, both in words and actions
then it becomes much harder to implement
Where the top strategic leader is not involved in or committed to the work of
developing leadership, in my experience, you may as well forget it.
John Adair: How to Grow Leaders
Team leader development is clearly a very important part of any contact centre operation
in order to maximise performance. However the fact is that organisations differ in how
well they develop and grow their team leaders
In organisations with a poor track record in this area there can often be high costs
caused by ineffective frontline leadership; both in terms of a lower customer experience
and lower employee morale
There is a need for a robust and effective strategy for team leader development which
encompasses training, selection, mentoring, education and the chance to lead as well as
the part senior managers themselves play. The strategy needs to be reviewed on a
regular basis to ensure it remains effective and current to the needs of the team leader
role in practice.