For Top Performance, Every Day is Feedback Day – Steve Shellabear of dancing lion outlines why getting feedback from customers in the contact centre should be the number one priority.
I once overheard a frustrated sales manager give his team a dressing down during a training session. He had become exasperated by what he felt were constant excuses for poor performance, and on this occasion, he lost his cool a little. This is how it went:
‘You know, you’re all absolutely right! Selling is a really difficult game because people are constantly busy. Mondays for example. No one wants to see a salesperson right after the weekend, and Tuesdays, well everyone hates Tuesdays don’t they?
Wednesdays aren’t so bad, but afternoons are out because by then, the workload has built up. Thursdays are out because everyone’s totally committed that late in the week, and Fridays? Forget it! It’s the weekend and people don’t want to bother with sales appointments at the weekend. That just gives us a Wednesday morning to do all our business, so no wonder we’re @*!#* failing!’
You feel for him a little, don’t you? It can be tough when you’re responsible for the performance of the team, but there always seems to be one or two people who have good reasons for why things can’t be done, and that can really affect morale. Justifications for a late report, or for a missed opportunity, or even why they can’t arrive on time.
And to make it more frustrating, this difficult to manage behaviour is often combined with wonderful work and great results! If only there was some way to get consistency. But the feedback never goes in, does it? They never really change their ways.
The fact is, people can and do change their ways. When there’s a good reason to change, and when people feel valued and listened to, they will change. Do you have to become a social worker to achieve that? Certainly not! This is business after all. But since we don’t stop being human beings when we come to work, investing time and genuinely engaging with those who don’t perform well, really pays off. And it’s ten times better than managing out and recruiting, which goes without saying.
So here we present the dancing lion five essentials of giving good feedback and handling erratic performance. Guaranteed to promote change and develop a stronger team:
1. Every day is feedback day – no need to wait for appraisals and team meetings.
By giving constant feedback on performance to individual team members, with tips and advice, they’ll soon know how much you value their efforts.
2. Hear what is said by your people. Listening isn’t good enough. We all expect to be heard nowadays. That means appreciating a situation from another’s perspective, confirming understanding, then seeking a rapid resolution or outcome with the other person’s involvement and suggestions.
3. Team members not responding to feedback? Focus them on the situation, not the person dimension. Telling someone they failed, only confirms failure. Telling someone that a low call rate means the team keeps missing out on bonuses – that provides a context. It focuses people on teamwork and on a sense of shared responsibility.
4. Define the situation. Why would someone think it’s ok to be late, or miss a deadline, or fail to achieve targets? Is there a personal issue, or was there a previous manager with a more lax attitude to performance? Before wading in with criticisms and judgements, know the terrain first.
5. Agree outcomes and follow-up. Few things are more deflating than promises not kept. If you’ve taken the time and effort to engage, hear and understand an individual’s view of things, it could be fatal not to keep your word on actions to be taken. Ensure the loop of communication is completed. Demonstrate the behaviours you want to see in others.
This is all very Stephen Covey stuff. The customer is not the goose, nor is the customer the golden egg. The team is the goose, and it’s our job to ensure they keep producing golden eggs for many years to come! That means a genuine, personal investment in their professional wellbeing.
Of course, much more could be said on how to structure your feedback sessions to suit your organisation and ensuring your managers have the skills to give feedback effectively. Call us at dancing lion to find out more about our approach to developing highly effective people in your organisation. Our experience across dozens of industry sectors in the UK and abroad has enabled countless managers and teams to reach their true potentials.
Dancing lion have a strong track record in assisting organisations to implement customer satisfaction initiatives.