9 Steps to Transform Workplace Dynamics for Managers and Contact Center Agents

A group of contact center agents sitting at a table with laptops.

Working in a contact center presents unique challenges for maintaining positive and productive team dynamics. Agents handle numerous customer inquiries daily, often dealing with frustrated callers. High-stress levels, burnout, and miscommunication can severely impact workplace morale and cohesion.

As a manager, fostering a healthy workplace environment is essential for excellent customer service delivery and promoting effective team dynamics. When your team functions cohesively, with clear goals and clear communication, they can better handle customer service interactions with empathy and efficiency. Here’s how you could transform workplace dynamics.

 

Workplace Dynamics: Understanding the Fundamentals

Back in the 1970s, J. Richard Hackman was among the first researchers to explore team effectiveness, particularly organizational behavior. What he found was groundbreaking. He found collaborative teamwork isn’t just about blending personalities, attitudes, or behaviors. Instead, it’s about creating conditions that empower teams to perform at their best.

So, what does that mean? There are specific requirements for building a successful team. Hackman pointed out three specific conditions:

 

Compelling Direction

Every team has a goal and a direction they’re aiming for. It helps them move forward with purpose and planning. Teams can’t succeed without clear goals because they won’t know what they’re working towards.

Setting goals isn’t always easy, so it’s essential to do it purposefully, realistically, and achievably. And it’s not just about setting goals; there should also be some form of reward, recognition, or compensation for reaching those goals.

 

Strong Structure

Every team needs a foundation. Without this foundation, the team could fall apart, especially during conflicts.

Successful teams have structure, processes, and a mix of skills. They’re also diverse, welcoming different viewpoints. In a high-performance culture, diverse perspectives are celebrated because they lead to more innovative ideas.

 

Supportive Context

Everyone needs support and assistance. It’s hard to accomplish anything significant without help from others. This often comes through training, resources, and encouragement from leaders.

 

What Are the Factors Behind Poor Workplace Dynamics?

Managers and team members play a role in shaping a negative workplace dynamic. Let’s explore some common issues that may arise:

  • Poor leadership: When there’s no strong leader in a team, a dominant member may step up to lead. This can result in confusion, internal conflicts, or a shift in focus to the wrong priorities.
  • Excessive respect for authority: This occurs when employees hold back from sharing their opinions to appear in agreement with the leader.
  • Groupthink: This occurs when people prioritize reaching an agreement over finding the best solution. It prevents them from fully considering other options.
  • Free riding: Some employees slack off and let their colleagues do all the work. Free riders might work hard individually but contribute less in group settings, called “social loafing.”
  • Fear of being judged: Team members’ perceptions can also sour the group dynamic. This happens when people think others are overly critical, causing them to withhold their opinions.

 

 

Building Stronger Teams: Key Steps to Enhance Workplace Dynamics in Contact Centers

Here are some strategies to unlock the full potential of teams and drive excellence in customer service delivery:

 

1. Build Team Trust

In workplaces where people trust each other more, there is:¹

 

  • Increased productivity by 50 percent
  • Boost in workplace energy by 106 percent
  • 13 percent reduction in sick days
  • High-trust companies outperform low-trust ones by 186 percent

 

This shows that a lively work atmosphere and employee happiness go hand in hand. Nowadays, most employees understand that change is bound to happen. However, what’s not certain is how much they trust their leaders to guide them through these changes. When managers establish strong connections with contact center agents before any big changes happen, the transition becomes smoother.

 

2. Encourage Transparent Team Communication

Leaders need to clearly outline expectations and demonstrate excellence in action. When managers openly communicate with their customer service agents, it creates a foundation for handling internal and external changes effectively. Managers must understand their concerns and provide opportunities for their voices to be heard and acknowledged within the team and the organization.

 

3. Demonstrate Your Team’s Importance

Managers affect employees’ mental health more than doctors or therapists do, with 69 percent of employees saying their managers greatly influence their mental well-being.²

This shows the impactful role managers play in the well-being of their team members. Make the workplace safe for your agents so they can handle challenges and speak up if they’re stressed.

As a manager, you can’t help if you don’t know there’s a problem. Build safety by showing you care. Make sure there are good relationships, clear roles, freedom to make decisions, and fairness in the team. When you care, they’ll care too.

Read More: 5 Strategies to Align Company Culture with Employee Mental Health

 

4. Balance Effort and Ease

Understand and manage the balance between “effort and ease.” Effort is important for engagement and achieving goals, but too much can lead to burnout. Explore methods that embrace ease, allowing teams to rest and recharge. Develop strategic plans that incorporate both effort and ease to sustain team well-being and productivity throughout different phases of work.

 

5. Share Self-Care Techniques

Airline rules apply: Secure your own mask first. What’s been helping you manage your well-being? Sharing your methods normalizes self-care talks for employees. For instance, one leader kept a wellness log on his wall. When employees saw his dedication to self-care, it sparked new conversations and positive changes.

Read More: The Importance of Wellbeing and Health in the Workplace

 

6. Prioritize Employee Well-Being and Lead by Example

In a demanding contact center environment, employee burnout is a real risk. As a manager, you must prioritize your team’s well-being. Encourage a healthy work-life balance by establishing clear boundaries and ensuring agents take regular breaks. Remind them that their well-being directly impacts the company’s success through better customer service.

However, simply discussing the importance of self-care isn’t enough – you need to walk the talk. Lead by example by openly prioritizing your well-being and implementing self-care practices into your routine.

If there are new initiatives like flexible scheduling to promote better balance, be the first to utilize them. Adjust your schedule to accommodate personal needs, to demonstrate that it’s acceptable for agents to do the same.

Read More: 4 Ways to Create a Culture That Supports Call Center Agents’ Mental Health

 

7. Create a Psychologically Safe Workplace

In call centers, agents interact with customers constantly and need to feel comfortable suggesting ideas or providing feedback to improve processes. As a manager, it’s crucial to foster an environment where agents feel safe speaking up without fear of criticism or repercussions.

This means moving away from an overly rigid management style and promoting transparent and open communication. Encourage agents to share their thoughts, concerns, or suggestions for improvement. Nurture strong relationships built on mutual respect and trust within the team. When agents feel their voices are valued and they can be authentic, it creates a supportive culture where new ideas for enhancing customer service can emerge.

 

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Encourage your agents to think outside the box and discover fresh concepts without the fear of failure holding them back. Emphasize the importance of learning from successful outcomes and challenges; use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.

Maintain a clear vision and priorities to provide direction and purpose while remaining flexible in how tasks are approached and completed. Celebrate achievements, big and small, and recognize the hard work and dedication of team members.

 

9. Let Your Team Ask and Seek Clarification

When team members feel comfortable raising concerns or seeking clarification, they trust their leader and feel supported in their efforts to understand the changes. Being transparent helps everyone understand better and reduces any uncertainty that might come up during periods of change.

Moreover, embracing a coaching mindset as a manager allows for more practical guidance and support throughout the change process. Instead of simply dictating instructions, a coach-leader engages with team members, providing guidance, feedback, and encouragement as they handle the challenges of change.

This helps team members feel like they’re in control of their part in the changes and encourages everyone to work together towards success.

 

TAKE THE LEAD IN FOSTERING A CULTURE OF SUPPORT AND GROWTH WITH SALEM SOLUTIONS

With Salem Solutions, we can help you transform your workplace into an environment where productivity, engagement, and satisfaction flourish. We’re a specialized staffing and recruiting firm focused on call center, administrative, and healthcare support. We provide temporary, temp-to-hire, direct hire, and high-volume staffing solutions to meet your needs.

Partner with us to elevate your workplace dynamics and unlock the full potential of your organization.

References

  1. Martic, Kristina. “Trust in the Workplace: Why It Is so Important Today and How to Build It.” Haiilo, 23 Jan. 2023, haiilo.com/blog/trust-in-the-workplace/.
  2. Glicksman, Eve. “Report: Managers Have Bigger Impact on Employee Mental Health than Therapists.” SHRM, 15 Feb. 2023, www.shrm.org/topics-tools/news/employee-relations/report-managers-bigger-impact-employee-mental-health-therapists.

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