Several times throughout my career I felt like I was going to die of boredom. I am a high-energy, fast-paced person that likes challenges and jumping into the never-been-done before initiatives. After being in a particular role for several years the job became pretty routine. The same customers, same employees, and not much new. While some people enjoy this type of consistency, I was bored to tears.
Several years later, after building the companies first call center, I learned some fantastic lessons about employee engagement. If you have ever observed a call center operation, you will learn that it is a high employee turnover business. The pace is fast and the customers are generally edgy to say it nicely, so as a result, great employees quickly move on or are recruited into more prestigious positions. That is the nature of the business.
The industry standard at the time was at least 25% annual turnover in employees. Most were experiencing 50% employee turnover. Because I didn’t know any better, (this was a never been done HERE before project), I wasn’t satisfied with 25% annual turnover. We set a goal of being below 10%, which was unheard of at that time. This required learning something about employee engagement. Here are some lessons that I learned.
1. Engagement always starts with listening. You must seek to understand your team members. What their joys, frustrations and motivations are. Every employee is different and unique in their own way.
2. You must have a personal relationship with most employees before they will let you know who they really are. That takes time, effort and investment on your part.
3. Boredom and monotony are my fault. There are things that a leader should do to make work more fun and interesting on a daily basis. Give people a chance to work on something new from time to time. Their new perspective often fosters improvements to your operations.
4. It is the leader’s job to create a challenging environment. One of my goals was to help team members break through old barriers. To prove to them that those limitations were more a state of mind than a true constraint. As the first few team members broke out from the pack, the rest quickly followed, renewing enthusiasm and a competitive spirit amongst the teams.
5. Celebrating regularly is a must. Find things to recognize people for and make a big deal of it. Tell that story of how Bill saved this customer relationship, or how Sue calmed an extremely irate customer and ended up selling additional products to them. These stories prove that enormous odds can be overcome with the right attitudes and behaviors.
6. Reward successful behaviors. Pay for results. Not everyone is capable of accomplishing that same result. Those that work hard, go the extra mile, and excel deserve something more. Lack of recognition and rewards for outstanding performance will quickly dull everyone’s senses and minimize motivation as well as performance.
7. Have FUN! Work does not have to be a grind. None of us enjoy every task that we have to do during the day. Take time to recognize the elements of it that you enjoy, whether it is the people, the environment, your customers or the appreciation that your boss demonstrates on a regular basis.
Quit thinking of yourself as the boss and think of yourself as the leader of a highly engaged, highly motivated, and high performing team. Start acting like you work with winners every day. Get to know the real people on your team and find out how to leverage their strengths, passions, and relationships to bring new levels of engagement across your entire team.
I guarantee that if you approach your work in this way that you won’t be bored. As for me, when I learned to be more engaged with my team members, learned to make their satisfaction and love for the job my priority, I also learned to make my own work fun.
Go out and engage your team and have a blast! If you need help making Visible Progress, give us a call.
Start Planning NOW for your Success!