Seek first to understand…

Quite often I see Management Consultants and Leadership bloggers talk about employee engagement and how to make things better.

And that’s great – some of the things and ideas are amazing. But inevitably, some of the experts like to talk about call centres and how your every move is measured and how there is no trust.

But here’s the thing… if you run a call centre you have to measure how much time people are (or are not) available to take calls.

I frequently work with call centres that need to improve performance and one of the common issues is that they don’t control their shrinkage (time lost to non-productive activities) or their adherence (staff were unavailable at the planned time).

Imagine you run a call centre with 50 staff and they all come in at 9 am. You want to give them all a break after a few hours right…? So if we don’t plan when each person can have a break, perhaps all 50 will take themselves off to the toilet/for a smoke/have a coffee all at the same time!

Exactly who is answering the phone now that everyone is on a break…?

Yes, in a perfect world we’d love to give everyone the autonomy to do what they like when they like, and how they like. Maybe our employee engagement would be 100%. But we wouldn’t be in business very long as we’d need way more staff than a business could possibly sustain.