How to Lead Your Call Center with Effectiveness

Leading well is a lifetime effort that managers never fully achieve, but they need to seek continual improvement. For the short term, here are some commonsense steps that will immediately improve your effectiveness as a call center leader and manager. Interact with Agents: To often the only time agents see a manager is after they’ve messed up. For them, sitting down with their manager harkens back to being called into the principal’s office. And who wants that? Instead let your front line agents get to know you in normal, everyday situations. A few informal minutes, even seconds, can pay off in big ways. Take a Break: Periodically pop into the breakroom, but make sure agents are there when you do. It might be to say “hi,” grab a beverage, or even take a break yourself. Keep your time there low key, and never talk about work – unless one of your employees brings up the subject. Let them see you in low-stress, non-threatening situations. Consider a Stroll: Purposefully walk through the operations room when you arrive at work, do lunch, and leave for the day. Assume a leisurely pace. Smile, nod, and say “hi.” Never have any other agenda on these treks. The goal isn’t interaction but presence. However, be available for brief conversations if an agent initiates it. Catch Them in the Act: Look for agents doing something good, and then celebrate it. Provide positive reinforcement whenever possible. Become known for doling out rewards more so than administering punishment. Keep it Short: When you do need to reprimand, be quick and concise. Make your point, be sure the agent understands the error and fallout, and then move on, preferably with an upbeat conclusion. Recognize Wisely: Reward agents in the way they will best receive it and (if applicable) will encourage the rest of the staff, too. This may be a pat on the back, personal email, group email, mention in your company newsletter, posted on the bulletin board or online, and possibly in private. (Some people dislike public attention and avoid it at all costs, so a private pronouncement is best for them.) Know Your Agents: The larger your staff, the harder it is to know each agent personally, but do what you can. For small staffs, try to learn about their family, career path goals, hobbies, and interests. Celebrating birthdays and recognizing employment anniversary dates is huge. As your call center grows, focus this level of attention on your assistants, supervisors, trainers, and lead agents. This will serve as a model for them to repeat with front line staff. Implement these seven tips to become a more effective call center manager. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider and consultancy that provides custom training solutions for all levels of staff in the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at or 800-901-7706 to learn more about arranging specific training for your organization.Peter Lyle DeHaan  is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.