10 Tips to Create a Winning Call Center Team

How to develop a staff with a can-do-anything attitude

Running a successful call center is hard. It requires dedication, focus, and a great team. Place the emphasis on team. Not every manager has what it takes to develop an effective, quality call center. Many have tried, but not as many have succeeded.

Although there’s no secret formula for building successful call center teams, here are some tips to point you in the right direction:

1. Create a Shared Vision: At the onset you must create a compelling vision of what you want to accomplish and where you want your call center to go. Some call this vision casting. A look at great entrepreneurs who have built an idea into a viable, sustainable business, reveals that they are all experts at painting a captivating picture for their staff to rally around.

Coupled with vision casting comes a reminder that vision leaks. Sharing a vision once will not sustain your charges for the long-term. You must continue to stoke the flames of that vision, to keep it stirred up within the souls of your staff. Tell them, remind them, and tell them again. Use words, use pictures, and give examples.

2. Share Ownership: The next step is to help your staff take on this vision. Let your vision become their vision. They will work much harder for a goal they want, then for a goal you want. The simplest way to do this is to use inclusive words, such as we, us, and ours. Avoid using I, me, and my. Talk about the results. Let them visualize a glorious future that they can be part of.

3. Tap Needed Skills: You want people on your team who can help you accomplish your objectives. When possible, hire for the skill set you need. But when this isn’t feasible, you must develop your people to fill the roles your call center needs.

Staff development includes providing training, offering encouragement, and supplying needed resources. Don’t give an employee a task they aren’t ready to take on without first giving them the tools they need to succeed.

4. Avoid Micromanagement: With your team in place, you want to set the framework for them to move toward your shared vision. This won’t happen if you try to micromanage them. If you assembled the right team and given them the needed resources, you need to give them the freedom and the latitude to move forward to do their jobs.

If they sense you’re looking over their shoulder and ready to pounce on any little slipup, they’ll become cautious and seek self-preservation over goal attainment. Don’t be the manager that stifles innovation through overmanaging.

5. Trust and Verify: The next tip is to trust your team. Trust they’ll do the job you call them to do and move toward the vision you cast. This doesn’t mean blind trust, however. Take steps to verify your trust is not misplaced. And if you have a team member you’re reluctant to trust, you have someone who shouldn’t be on your team. Fix or replace.

6. Empower Wisely: Next, empower your team to act. This is coupled with avoiding micromanagement. But don’t give them a blanket license. Instead empower them to act within the scope of their responsibilities and assignments. Wise empowerment means not too much, and not too little, but just the right amount that matches their skills and accomplishments.

7. Apportion Authority: Coupled with empowerment comes granting authorization. Give your team members the authority they need to complete their assignments without delay or needing to obtain your approval. Granting an appropriate level of authority reinforces the trust you place in them.

8. Insist on Accountability: As you bestow your staff with empowerment and authority, allocate it with care. Let them know you will hold them accountable for their decisions they make and the outcomes of those decisions. Without the structure of accountability, some staff will overreach and do things that aren’t in the best interest of your shared vision.

9. Win as One: Be a team leader that remembers to say thank you, and do this often. Affirm the members of the team individually, in private, and as a group, in public. Don’t accept any awards for your success alone. Share the praise of others generously and liberally with your staff.

If you forget to include your team when you’re honored for the success of their work in reaching your vision, your team will resent you as an intention-grabbing, selfish leader. And they’ll be less likely to go the extra mile for you in the future.

10. Celebrate Success: Once you reach a vision, leaders face two common temptations. One is to rush headlong into the next project, and the other is to sit back and coast. Wise leaders do neither. Instead take time to celebrate the accomplishments of your team. Acknowledge them individually and as a group. Offer rewards and affirmation as appropriate.

Then after a time of celebration, cast the next vision.

While there’s no guaranteed path to create a winning team in your call center, it’s essential to pursue this objective. These tips will help you do that. And as your team succeeds, your call center succeeds, and as a bonus you will succeed, too.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry, which helps clients grow their business. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.