Thursday, August 16, 2007

Transitions (Part 2)

Left: Then (me in the office with my beloved Team), and now (me and my mates at the Schistosomiasis Control and Research Hospital, we won 2nd place in the 2-day exhibit and defense).

CPT 44.1, Quality 83.5%, Productivity 94.64%, Idle 2.5, Attendance 87.03% Retention 96.3%, Team Rating (Qa-CPT) 39.4.

These dismal stats were my constant source of headaches as a young Team Manager. No matter how hard I tried- I’ve threatened, pleaded, cajoled, enticed, bribed, and strangled (Ok, that didn’t happen) my CSRs, and they still would not perform. They were polite enough and seemed receptive when coached, yet they didn’t deliver. Being a novice leader myself, I was puzzled.

Great, I thought, I was now at the position that I wanted, but what good is a team when you are always at the bottom of the rankings? Determined to turn things around, I started by visiting Powerbooks. I became an instant fan of John Maxwell, Bob Nelson, and Ken Blanchard (co-author of The One Minute Manager). I devoured their books and implemented my own interpretations of their leadership and motivational tips.

Step 1: Heart to heart talk.

Conducting a meeting with 27 people plus two Lead CSRs in itself is a handful, so I decided to talk to them by threes if I were to see to it that they realize the seriousness of the situation. It was tedious, but the move was pivotal. These were the points I raised:

a. Our schedule will definitely be affected by our performance, since the Shift Bid is based solely on the rankings of the teams (with Team Rating or Efficiency 50% and Attendance 50%). If we want to get a “normal schedule” (read: morning shift) or at least decent schedule, we have to compete with 39 other teams for it.

b. Teams 1-38 are obviously composed of more tenured CSRs, so we need twice the effort to compete with them. I already scheduled drills, call simulations and monitoring paired with intensive coaching to make those drastic changes. An improvement of Quality and seconds off the time of call is crucial!

c. Collaboration is necessary. The team score is after all an average of all individual scores- meaning everyone should work hard!

d. Communicate your concerns so I can do my best to remedy them- from payroll concerns to benefits to boyfriend troubles (my expertise) to bad blood among team members. I told them, I won’t be able to help you if you don’t tell me. (And since them I became a sounding board for the most horrendous stories from breakups to pregnancies, yikes!)

We can make the change. Starting NOW.

Step 2: A Common Goal.

Now that we all were on the same page, I asked them to create as a group a team goal that would encapsulate everything they wanted to achieve as a team. And here it is:
To be a competitive team that provides Quality Customer service with an efficient call handling time. To have each member receive Premier Bonus (which is performance-based) and eventually move up for promotions; to practice Shared Leadership; and to develop a proactive and positive attitude among members.

Step 3: Collaboration and unselfishness.

Everyone is involved, and this includes making minor sacrifices for the team’s sake. One of our extreme moves was to implement a program that involves texting or phoning members scheduled for a particular shift. “Please be informed that you have a shift at 500PST today. See you in the office.” It was bordering on harassment, but it left no room for excuses (“Oh, did I have a shift today? I thought my Vacation Leave was approved!”) But everyone understood- we have a goal, and we were going to grab the top spot.

For serious cases like illnesses or issues in the family, I made sure that Vacation Leaves and Schedule Swaps were done to avoid a single late or absence. I pulled strings in the Workforce to make sure they were approved. It even came to a point where one of my members, close to having convulsions went in the office to ask me for Voluntary Time Off, which I fought for. My ACCM approved it and the CSR was promptly sent to Makati Med. For 2 quarters since I implemented this system, we maintained a team attendance of 99%- the highest the call center had seen. And for CSRs who didn’t follow? I gave them the boot.

Step 4: Shared Leadership.

I formed three Mini Groups out of the entire team, and assigned leaders (this program by the way, yielded promotions for the CSRs who acted as “Mini Team Leaders”). They were required to analyze their own statistics and produce Action Plans, conduct their meeting (while I observed), and do mentoring and coaching. Natural born leaders rose to the challenge and this further motivated members as the post was constantly circulated every month.

I asked feedback and opinions on the programs I was going to implement because the best ideas came from them. They were involved, competitive, and in constant high spirits (my obsession had rubbed off on them!).

Step 5: Accountability for one's Actions.

I encouraged them to take control of their lives (professional and personal), make decisions, and take risks. If they did something wrong, I would ask them for the truth, and not excuses. OWN IT- I told them, of their mistakes. Sign the Corrective Action form and learn from it.

Step 6: Team Building Activities, Rewards and Recognition.

We became much closer after each out-of-town event we had. Of course, for every achievement, I gave rewards. I went as far as giving trips to Galera, and a P10,000 contest to further persuade them to break their records and reach new heights.

I made sure that in every team meeting, I mention the names of the top performers (for those poor performers, I coached them discreetly so they won’t be embarrassed). At the end of the year, I made plaques for the Top Ten Best Performers of the Year (this is on top the premier bonus they get, plus the gift certificates and prizes). I love seeing their faces and see how pumped up they get- even the non-winners.

After these steps, it was almost effortless for my team to get high marks. I began to concentrate more on my projects for the Call Center (Quality reports for my ACCM team, Payroll Discrepancy, Contests, etc.). The road to success of Team 39 was no easy one, and a lot of drastic measures had to be done (can you believe I fired a total of 32 people in my course as a Team Manager?), but in the end we were able to finally discover the true meaning of the words “Teamwork” and “Leadership”.

The results?

Six people under my supervision are now working as Team Managers themselves (some in other companies), four are now Supervisors, and others in other departments. The highest spot we got was Rank 6 out of forty teams ( a feat considering we competed with tenured CSRs in other teams).

As for our statistics:

CPT 34.3, Quality 99.1%, Productivity 98.31%, Idle 0.6, Attendance 100%, Retention 100% , Team Rating (Qa-CPT 64.8).



Anonymous said...

what a leader... honestly.

Now thad, when will u lead dis nation to rank 1st among asian neighbors??? hehehe

Phoenix said...

@ Josh: Charing! ; )


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