Leaders are born not made. While it isn’t possible to teach people how to be a leader, it is possible to create an environment that nourishes the leadership qualities in your employees. By creating the right atmosphere within your inbound call center, everyone can be a leader.
An Army of One
A few years ago, the US armed forces tried to reinvent its image. It came up with the slogan “An Army of One”. It was meant to foster individuality and responsibility instead of an image of a mindless group of soldiers following orders. The phrase “I was just following orders” would no longer be an acceptable excuse for a soldier to commit a questionable act in the field.
Individuality and responsibility are important qualities to foster in your call center. Ultimately, employees need to follow the instructions given to them by their team leader or manager, just as it is important for soldiers to follow orders. However, if the employee believes that there is a better way to perform a specific task or thinks that a company policy is questionable, he or she has a responsibility to speak up.
Moreover, when they do speak up to organization needs to have policies in place that will show the employee that their opinion is valued. If people believe that the company doesn’t value them as individuals or that they will be punished in some form for speaking up, then your organization may miss valuable chances to grow and improve.
Promoting from Within
Managers are always on the lookout for individuals who excel. Those who are willing to go the extra mile or help others are a good choice for the next open management position. Yet, when the company doesn’t foster leadership people are less likely to help the agent next to them who is having problems or offer an idea for a better approach to selling a new product.
Employees can sense when management approves or disapproves of specific actions. The company may say the foster individuality but if the environment on the floor is negative or stifling, workers will realize that management doesn’t approve of those who stand out.
The company may not create the negative situation. It could be certain supervisors who fear that specific employees threaten the manager’s job. While this may not be the case, an insecure boss can impede the growth of those under him, even if it hurts the company.
It is up to the owners of the company to make sure all supervisors understand the importance of fostering leadership. Those managers who can’t create this environment due to their own insecurities may be better off elsewhere.
Little Things Count
Creating an atmosphere that encourages individuality and responsibility starts with showing employees that even little actions count. Sitting new employees next to veterans allows those with experience to prove they have the ability to teach others. Asking a worker to run a specific project or research a new business process helps the employee prove they can lead as well as follow and are able to meet deadlines. Teaching employees management tasks will help groom future supervisors as well as make sure there is always someone available if the manager is sick or busy.
Creating an environment that fosters leadership requires the company to overcome misconceptions in the workplace. Often organizations create a competitive atmosphere believing that it encourages employees to push themselves to do their best. But when handled incorrectly, it creates the idea that if a manager or employee doesn’t give 110% they will be replaced. This negative situation makes employees look at one another with fear and suspicion instead of being members of a team.
When an inbound call center fosters leadership in its employees, the company will benefit from low turnover and the ability to recruit superior candidates. These workers will be looking at the organization as a place of growth and opportunity so they will be more willing to give their best at all times. This is good for the customers, the company and the department where these future leaders work.