Tuesday, June 3, 2008
In business today, change is inevitable. Not only is it inescapable, but the speed of change seems to intensify as each day goes by. What this means to your business is that you really need the performance of every person in your company to constantly be on the upswing. So you can imagine how important it is that executives, managers, and supervisors alike take a constructive approach towards change management in order to consistently drive these improvements within your organization.
Now, change is growth, so it is generally a positive circumstance for your company, but nothing kills change like the resistance of the people within the business. How do you overcome employee resistance? Good question. Frankly, it’s pretty difficult to get people on board with change if they really don’t want to embrace it. There is no doubt that change is difficult for many people, and often you will hear employees lament company transformation with sad reminiscences about “the good old days” — and by that they mean the “good old ‘pre-change’ days.” Just listening to these stories brings visions of productivity trickling away like sand through your fingers. No one wants to see that. So leaders within a transforming company need to find ways to effectively manage change.
So how can your company create an effective change strategy that trickles down from top leadership into implementation by management and team leaders? Let’s take a look at a few techniques that have worked for us and our clients:
- Be upfront with your people. As soon as you know that change is afoot, you need to begin preparing the people in your company. It’s no big secret that one of the best ways to overcome resistance to change is to inform people about the change effort in advance. Let them know what is coming up, how it impacts them, what you want and/or expect from them in relation to the change, and the anticipated time frames. Being honest and clear in your communications is the key to setting the stage for successful change and helping your people to feel calm and collected about their situation.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Communicate often and regularly about the change within your company. In order to achieve a constructive change environment, it’s imperative that you know how to communicate the changes to your team. Continually explain what you want from the people within your business, and allow them to openly communicate their concerns, issues, fears, or perceived challenges related to the change. Honestly explore those thoughts with them. After you’ve made the decision for change, it’s a strategic move to ask for your team’s thoughts and participation in implementation. Encouraging your people to find innovative solutions for managing your company’s change has double benefits. Not only does it bring inventive solutions to the table that might never have been considered, but it also empowers your people to feel a sense of control and comfort during the acclimatization period. Win-win for everyone.
- Be clear about the need for embracing the change. If you observe your people showing resistance, speak openly and honestly to them about this. During a major company transformation is not the time to “pussyfoot around” and worry about further upsetting dissatisfied people. If you need them to embrace the change, it’s only right that you communicate the importance to them and make sure that they understand the consequences to both themselves and to the company as a whole if they continue to resist. There is no bite in the message unless defined consequences are communicated clearly.
- Allow accountability. We are all personally accountable for the manner in which we decide to handle change. It’s important that you don’t take responsibility when some of your people are not embracing the change within your company. You can not make people do what they don’t want to do. It’s important to be clear with everyone, to care about their feelings and the issues they are facing, but in the end, each person needs to be personally accountable for either stepping up or stepping out.
- Be Realistic. Lastly, know that if your people are putting up a lot of resistance to change, the likelihood is that this roadblock will always be there. Don’t expect a sudden “a-ha!” moment where they see the light and out of the blue embrace the change. Some people may “go along to get along,” but they won’t be happy and they won’t end up supporting the change. Productivity issues, absenteeism, and conflict are all signs that you’ll have to watch for — they mark resistant attitudes.
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As a manager, you will often land in a situation where all eyes are on you, waiting for the decision you will make based on your technical knowledge and expertise. At times, though, you do not have enough information to help you analyse the situation and make decisions. You may often rely on your gut feeling because you find it safer. The right thing to do at this time, however, is to go out and gather more information before making a decision because facts are always more powerful than intuition.
Bigger decisions involve higher stakes and may have a big impact on your organization. For most managers, these decisions are the toughest to make. However, delaying decision-making is not going to help your case; delayed decisions can prove more harmful than making the wrong decisions.
When you study a difficult problem in order to make a decision, you may find that you don’t have many options or that the only options you do have are not attractive. In such cases, you must learn to go ahead with a less-than-favorable option. Nobody expects you to know it all in business, and so, it is okay to get a second opinion on your decisions from experts around you.
Tips for Making Powerful Decisions as a Business Manager:
- As a manager, you are responsible for the decisions you make regarding the business. Give careful thought to important decisions and gather as much information as you can to help you make effective decisions.
- You will need to make decisions day in and day out as a business manager. However, give adequate time and effort to each decision-making process. Don’t try to deal with making multiple decisions at one time.
- When your decision making is going to impact other teams or people, it is best to consider their opinions and gauge their needs. This will help you make effective decisions that will address those needs.
- Be confident in your decisions. Do not go back on the decisions you make unless they are causing a loss to the business. Going back and forth on your decisions makes you look like a poor or inefficient decision maker. People will find it difficult to trust your decisions and put their faith in them.
- Before announcing a decision, visualize the outcome of it. Think about how it will affect your business and the possible shortcomings it may have. Only after thinking it through extensively should you declare it publicly.
- Do not stray from the objective of the decision at hand. Often, managers tend to lose direction when they have too much information to consider. Remain focused and consider all the alternatives and risks of your decision before finalizing it.
Effective decision-making skills are crucial for managers as their decisions have the power to take an entire organization in a given direction. Gather all the information you think you will need to make an effective decision. Analyze the facts and think about the potential strengths and weaknesses of your decision. And above all, keep faith in your decision-making skills.
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Be it for research, making sales, or providing after-sales service, companies heavily rely on their call centers. Call center managers face daily challenges in balancing targets provided by management with the basic operations involved in running their call centers. A few of these challenges are described below.
1. Agent Attrition Rates
A number of surveys have revealed that call centers have the worst attrition rates. An annual agent turnover rate of more than 25% is witnessed across the industry. The primary reasons that employees decide to quit are:
- More attractive opportunities elsewhere
- Low salaries
- Inconvenient work hours
- Redundant work
- Fewer career advancement opportunities
2. High Cost of Operations
Call centers are full of computers and technological gadgets that need proper maintenance. Furthermore, a call center that decides to purchase a workforce management system (WFM) must pay more than $50,000.
3. Cultural Complexities
When call centers are outsourced, managers face cultural complexities in their operations. Calls to and from foreign countries often meet cultural barriers that pose significant challenges in call center operations.
Solutions for Effective Call Center Operations
Since a single challenge may have multiple solutions, the implementation of the best solutions for operational problems is essential. Four specific call center operations solutions are discussed below.
1. Creating an Intranet
Call center operations can be more effective if an intranet is put to use. Agents should be encouraged to use the intranet, which may offer a help desk, recreational activities information, messages from management, company newsletters, and details on the company’s latest developments. This can help staff members remain connected with management.
2. Conducting Research
Every call center has its unique problems. Though time consuming, research on the requirements of your staff and customers will ensure optimal performance. A survey of staff and customers can be conducted, or you can analyze call logs or statistics to gather information on problems customers are running into.
3. Staff Training
A vital part of call center operations is training staff members. Agents should be aware of the full range of information available to them. Proper trainers provide the instructions needed to prepare an agent for success.
4. Examining Key Statistics
There are certain indicators that show the level of performance in a call center. Call center operations can be run more smoothly if the manager leverages on statistics pertaining to factors such as call volume, cost per call, percentage of successful calls, average time per call, and customer satisfaction.
Managing call center operations requires high-level troubleshooting and management skills as well as patience and the capacity to work under pressure. By studying the challenges faced by their call centers and applying the right solutions, managers can run call center operations more effectively.
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