The Most Effective Call Center Management Styles
If you’ve ever worked in a contact center, you have probably worked for a variety of bosses with very different management styles. One might have been a jolly personality who was everyone’s best friend. Another may have believed he or she was a prison guard at Alcatraz. Most managers’ styles tend to fall somewhere in between. It’s not something that should be left to chance, though: a manager hired simply for experience may not have a management style that keeps employees around (let alone motivates and engages them), and this can get expensive.
In a recent blog post for Playvox, Briana Songer outlined several of the more common contact center manager styles and emphasized that most of them aren’t appropriate for a well-run contact center. There’s “laissez-faire” boss, who sits back and assumes that everyone knows what needs to be done. Unless the agents in the center are highly experienced, highly skilled and have the personality of robots, this is unlikely to work well, even if it’s desirable from an agent standpoint. Then there’s “Autocrat Boss,” who has little trust in anyone, expects obedience and manages with an iron fist (and fear) to get things done. This type of boss usually results in a stream of agents coming into and going out of the contact center so rapidly, a revolving door becomes necessary.
So what’s the right mix of hands-on and hands-off for a healthy contact center? The answer will vary depending on the type of business and the tasks that need to be done, but there are several traits a good manager should have. For starters, some democracy is appropriate in the contact center.
“These leaders want to work through the problem to come to a decision,” wrote Songer. “Sometimes known as 'participation style', this type of leadership uses empowerment to meet goals and performance. They rely more on the employees to give feedback in order to help the leader make their final decisions.”
Agents spend all day on the phone with customers, so chances are good that they understand customers even better than the managers do. Managers, however, will have a better understanding of the “big picture,” so expect a good manager to have more than a dash of the “transformational” management style.
“These types of leaders seek to bring change through inspiration, passion and focus,” wrote Songer. “They have a belief and encourage all to come together to achieve change. This style is appropriate when its necessary to take a look at a new way of doing things in the call center. The transformational leader has motivation and charisma that help others follow their lead. However, it's important these leaders actually have a solid plan so they don't disappoint and demotivate their team.”
Obviously, no one style is going to be appropriate all the time. The best managers understand their workers and know which approaches will work better for different personalities, different tasks and different work styles.