10 Red Flags to Watch Out for with New Hires
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Being on the front line as a call center operator can be a really challenging when you consider the amount of rejection they can face in a sales environment or dealing with irate customers providing customer service throughout their day.
Add to this little to no real coaching or support, and all for a low hourly rate, it’s not surprising many call centers experience low staff retention rates leading to a lot of hiring and training new staff every month.
Over the past 35 years I’ve been involved in recruiting and training hundreds and hundreds of call operators, I’ve found there are certain Red Flags you need to look out for with new hires during induction training and the first few weeks of employment that indicate there may be trouble ahead.
When you see these Red Flags flapping, you need to take action as early as possible to get new hires on the right path, or at the very least be aware you may have a problem child on your hands that you should speak with your manager about and decide if they are a good fit for the team or not.
Now having said this just let me say that you need to look at these behaviors as warning signs, and if you see one behavior from a new hire just once that doesn’t necessarily mean a Red Flag is being raised.
However, if you see the same behaviors happening often, especially when other negative behaviors show themselves as well, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you’ll have a problem with your new hire when they finish training and hit the floor.
Here are 10 Red Flags (in no particular order) you need to watch out for:
1. Being late for training, shift times or coming back late from breaks.
Now, it might just be that your new hire is having a problem getting to work on time for a particular reason not that they don’t care about being on time, or they’re just lousy at getting organized.
If you see them coming in late for a couple of days, and this is the only red flag you’re seeing, take them aside during a break to ask why they’re having a problem being on time.
You may find they’re simply having trouble with a bus schedule or connections. And, you might be able to fix the problem by introducing them to someone in the center they can catch a ride to work with.
And, with breaks – it always amazes me how many people come back late from the first break on the first
day of training with pretty much the same lame excuse!
When this happens, I usually stop the group and tell everyone that being late for work whether that’s coming in for training or their shift or coming back from breaks is unacceptable.
I point out being late without a good reason is disruptive to the group and disrespectful of everyone there. And, it’s their responsibility to be back in their chair before the break ends.
If they need to do something during their break that’s family or work related that may cause them to be late, they need to mention this to their Team Leader or Trainer so they are aware of the possibility.
2.Not taking their training seriously by not following instructions or paying attention.
You see this behavior with people constantly texting or having too much fun speaking with their neighbors and you end up asking yourself how serious they are about the job.
Sometimes you see this behavior from new hires who had worked for another company in the same industry. Many can think they know it all, and don’t have to really pay too much attention because they
already get it.
In those cases you should remind them that it’s what they learn after they think they know it all that really counts!
3.Lying or overly embellishing
No one likes lying or at the very least overly embellishing the truth. If you catch them out in a lie or they embellish the truth too much, they are capable of lying or playing loose with the truth while on the job.
Any hint of lying is a good reason to keep a close eye on them and monitor their calls in the early stages of their employment, and if you catch them out again you should consider immediately letting them go.
4.Negativity or complaining
If you see any unwarranted negativity or bad mouthing a former employer or job this is an immediate red flag. Negativity has no place in your team and has the potential to infect everyone, so you need to keep a look out for any signs of unwarranted negativity and deal with it immediately. If they continue with this behavior you need to move them on quickly before they hurt the morale of the
5.Not Asking Any Questions
Typically, most new team members who are engaged with their job and want to do well will ask lots of questions about the company, product and how to do their job.
Even those new hires who are engaged and have worked with another company in the same industry will
ask a lot of questions. If they don’t, you have to wonder why?
It’s easy for a new hire to get overwhelmed during their training and the first few weeks of performing their jobs, which can directly affect their listening skills. But if a new hire doesn’t listen during training, will they be able to listen when they are working?
7.Only Focused On Pay And Benefits
When a new hire only talks about their pay and staff benefits in the early stages, you should immediately be wary. You don’t want people on the team who are only interested the money. You want people who can be passionate about the job and the company.
8.Poor Communication Skills
The ability to communicate is a huge part of any call center job. Obviously, they should have been screened to make sure they can speak well during the interview process. However, if they are poor at returning emails, missing scheduled phone calls or is unclear when
communication with customers and team members this is clearly a bad sign.
9.Inability To Follow Directions
If a new hire continuously misses steps or disregards your directions you need to watch this very carefully. This is something you need to correct very early, and if things don’t improve quickly you should
move them on.
When a new hire shows up disheveled, dressed unprofessionally or reeking of alcohol you need to immediately reassess their ability to be a professional in the workplace. If they can’t pull it together when they just got a new job, they probably won’t be able to do so in the
long term. These are common red flags Call Center Managers and Team Leaders need to be on the lookout for during induction training and in the first few weeks of a new hire’s employment. If any of these behaviors come up, they need to get straightened out straight away before these behavior cause and damage to the team.
Frankly, if someone isn’t a good fit for the team or the call center generally, it’s best to deal it early on, even if that means having to let them go, rather than risk bringing someone on board who just doesn’t share the same values as the rest of the team.
Ways Team Leaders Develop and Display Integrity
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People want to work for those who are ethical. With a leader they trust people tend to more satisfied and committed to them, and more willing to be open and vulnerable in a good way. They know that if their leader acts with integrity, they will treat them right and do what’s best for the team and the
Of course, everyone values integrity, but when you ask most people what integrity actually means many can have a hard time telling you, much explaining how they show their integrity.
Over the many years I’ve been running call centers around the world and consulting with organizations coaching Call Center Managers and Team Leader, one of the things I’ve found is that when people believe you have integrity, they associate that trait with kindness and having good intentions as opposed
to selfish motives.
And, when a leader is also competent, it shows they can act on their character and are considered a really valuable employee and seen as a more effective leader.
The first way you can develop and display integrity is fairly obvious… simply be honest and treat people well. Don’t exaggerate success and be quick to praise the contributions of your team members and
Secondly, treat everyone fairly regardless of their position within the organization, and hold yourself accountable not just to your manager, but also to your team members and other Team Leaders.
Think about doing a self-audit. Think about those you admire and what you admire about them. Think about their attributes that you emulate and how successful you are at emulating those attributes. If you find you’re lacking in an area, try to figure out why.
And, find out how others view you – its one thing to think about how we’re perceived, but quite another to know for sure, right? So, talk to your boss, team members, other team leaders and people outside of the company about what you do well, and what you can do better.
And, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with your team. If you make a mistake, say so and do all you can to fix it. Your team doesn’t expect you to be perfect, and you can alienate them if you don’t admit to your screw ups when things go wrong.
INDUSTRY SERVICE TIPS
1. Define your contact center’s leadership needs. What does leadership mean in your contact center? Be specific. Vagueness breeds more vagueness. Build a program around the specific needs.
2. Practice. When managers are away let leadership development trainees step in and get some practice. These hands-on experiences will prove to be invaluable with lessons learned.
To sustain a viable pipeline of managers, contact centers want to invest in a Leadership Development Program. Companies prefer to hire from within but many times don’t have the right leadership talent available internally, which forces companies to look outside. Implementing an LDP can change that scenario. Leaders are developed over time with the proper structure, leadership and direction.
The best LDP programs include real-world work, education, training and coaching guided by a structured curriculum with tests or accountability checkpoints along the way. Providing Leadership Development Trainees with the opportunity to learn all aspects of the business backfills their experience. The program should include self-study as well as group training and discussion. Assign the trainee with a project; something they can call their own and are responsible for managing and reporting the results.
Developing a Leadership Development Program is a wise investment for long-term staffing and growth. Well-led organizations tend to attract quality applicants, produce satisfied employees, incur less unwanted turnover, cultivate loyal customers, and yield impressive financial returns. Sounds like a tall order but it is possible with a well thought-out program that is committed to its people.
7 Pillars For Creating Amazing Team Leaders
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Team Leaders are the backbone of any call center!
Yet typically what happens is one of the better operators is made a Team Leader and thrown into the deep end with little or no understanding of their role, much less comprehensive training or on-going support.
As a result, all too often, we turn a terrific team member into a stressed and under achieving Team Leader and get frustrated with the results. Then after a few months, or even weeks, we end up replacing
them and usually lose a really good telemarketer in the process too!
The best way to overcome the frustration and stress of getting caught in this revolving door of constantly replacing Team Leaders is to follow the 7 Pillars for creating amazing Team Leaders who coach, nurture
and lead winning teams that continuously meet (or even exceed) their monthly targets and KPIs.
Having owned a call center myself and working all over the world for 35 years running marketing departments and call centers, consulting with businesses mentoring their call center managers and team leaders, I’m well aware of the difficulties of developing amazing team leaders who coach, nurture and lead winning teams.
After doing this over the years, I’ve learnt that to create truly amazing Team Leaders you need to develop an effective training process incorporating these 7 Pillars, so they clearly understand their role, and
acquire the practical skills needed to lead their teams to consistently achieve their targets and KPIs.
The 1st Pillar is Getting The Right Person
All Team Leaders ARE NOT the same and there are common traits, characteristics and practices that set successful Team Leaders apart.
The key to selecting the right Team Leader is understanding these traits, characteristics and practices, so you can look for them in prospective candidates when recruiting from outside or promoting from within.
Obviously, you want the right person from the start; even if you need to help them learn some of the skills they’ll need to be successful … because it’s always easier and quicker coaching someone who has
the right basic traits and characteristics to begin with.
The 2nd Pillar is Effective Time Management
The number one reason most Team Leaders give for not providing their team members with on-the-job training or coaching is that they just don’t have the time with all the different administration and human
resources tasks they have to do every day.
And, to be fair, some have a point, when you look at all the things they do each day and week. If this is the case in your center, you should have a look at which tasks can be handled by an administrator or
someone in HR, rather than your Team Leader.
After all, a Team Leader’s number one priority should be reaching their team’s goals each week. So, you need to make sure they have the time and energy to provide really effective leadership and coaching.
If Team Leaders aren’t overburdened with too many tasks then you’re really dealing with an excuse, and that’s an easy fix.
To make sure they’re using their time effectively, have them complete a weekly schedule for the coming week, give you a copy and pin it at their work space. Review their schedule to make sure they’re focused
on the coaching tasks you want, and make any necessary amendments if needed.
You also want to keep them accountable so, check in throughout the week to make sure they’re doing their coaching tasks when scheduled.
Bringing these essential elements together, Team Leaders will have the time to help their team members perform better because team members are finally getting the coaching they need!
Pillar 3 is having a Coachable Call Structure
Team members need an easy to understand Call Structure that sets out the key steps, in the proper sequence, they need follow to achieve positive outcomes whether handling customer service calls,
booking appointments or making sales.
An effective Call Structure crystallizes the steps when handling or making a call; and when done correctly is easy to learn and really easy to coach!
Just imagine how more quickly you’d improve the overall performance of your Call Center team if you had a call structure for your team to follow that Team Leaders could use to coach team members to
The 4th Pillar is Call Monitoring and Calibrated Scoring
To be effective coaches, Team Leaders need to have a clear understanding of the challenges team members are facing when making or handling calls.
The best way to understand where coaching is needed is to listen to team members’ calls and score each area of the call structure in those calls.
It is imperative that Scoring Guidelines are created and calibrated with all Team Leaders to ensure consistent call scoring across the call center.
The best way to ensure Scoring Guidelines are calibrated correctly is to get all your team leaders into a room, listen to a few recorded calls together and have each of them independently score each call.
Then compare and discuss their scores to ensure everyone understands the appropriate scoring levels for each call component, to make sure they aren’t too strict or forgiving in the scores they give.
This way team members will generally have the same scores for the different parts of your call structure and you’ll find this really helpful if you move them from team to team to ensure they get consistency on
the scoring of their calls.
Pillar 5 is Corrective and Nurturing Feedback
Providing positive and corrective call performance feedback is critical when coaching team members to ensure they are protecting your brand and well trained to be friendly, helpful, giving accurate information and following call handling processes effectively.
Team Leaders need to be trained in providing nurturing and corrective feedback on calls they’ve scored to make sure team members really understand where they need to improve and are open to being
Aside from providing corrective feedback, Team Leaders should also be coached to identify what was also great about the call they scored. That way when providing corrective feedback, along with call deficiencies, they can highlight positive aspects of a call to reinforce those actions with team members, so they will occur again.
Providing feedback in this way will be seen by team members as an instructive and motivational experience they can look forward to.
The 6th Pillar is Team Member Skills Audits
Team Leaders need to conduct a Skills Audit of each of their team members every quarter to have a timely and clear understanding of the coaching and training needs for each of their team members.
These audits can be done more frequently, particularly if there are chronic under performers or when new team members join their team.
Skills Audits cover all sections of a Call Structure and other areas such as: Product Knowledge, Systems Knowledge and Administration.
Team Leaders should also add notes to each area to remind them of the coaching and training requirements to help them when they develop Coaching Plans for team members.
After they’ve completed an audit, discuss the areas team members need coaching or training and decide with your Team Leaders how best to deliver any required training or coaching.
If many team members need help in any specific area it may be better to have a group training session, that’s where keeping notes on each audit section can come in handy.
Pillar 7 is Team Coaching Plans
Coaching Plans keep Team Leaders focused on covering the areas each of their team members need improvement. It’s just a simple plan that outlines which areas need work, what coaching is required, when it will be delivered and who delivers it.
This pulls everything into a road map Team Leaders can follow that focuses on the specific areas of coaching needed for each team member.
Of course, some team members are really, really good operators who won’t need a lot of coaching, but they can still improve in some areas. And, you’d be amazed at how many really good operators want their Team Leader to listen to their calls and work with them because they’re feeling they may be falling short.
VIDEO FROM OUR EXPERTS
Established in 2009 to provide consulting services to businesses involved in B2B and B2C lead generation and telemarketing activities.
With 30 years of direct marketing experience as a call centre proprietor, senior marketing executive and consultant Marc has been employed or provided consulting services to a wide variety of businesses involved in B2B and B2C activities in such diverse markets as Australia, Canada, Fiji, México, The Bahamas, United Kingdom and United States of America.
Companies out team has worked with – Accor Vacation Club, Club Noosa Resort, Diamond Resorts International, Elkhorn Resorts, GeoHoliday Club, Groupo Costamex, Holiday Resort Properties, Interval Property Management LTD, Resort Hotels of Australia, Shell Vacations LLC, Telstra Australia and the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra among others.
NETWORKING FOR CONTACT CENTER PROFESSIONALS
NACSMA brings together like-minded professionals focused on advancing the customer contact industry and creating career growth.
Management of a best-in-class contact center sites require the continuous review of Agent Sourcing Models, Organizational Training and Management Development Programs.
NACSMA is a professional, non-profit association whose members represent customer contact organizations and the vendors who support them.
When a contact center organization expands to an additional site or requires new space, the steps to properly implement are unique to each organization but do have standard phases.