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Adaptability-The New Secret of Leader Survival

March 24, 2017 Kaylene Eckels

There’s an oft-quoted term used in the professional world that cites the need for leaders to “move at the speed of business.” This saying reveals an important point that applies to all industries and sectors (including contact centers): While managing your day-to-day operations is possible, controlling the trends that dictate the pace of your business, as well as the circumstances in which you have to operate, is not. Thus, adaptability becomes a vital element to your being able to work both effectively and efficiently.

What Is It?

What is adaptability? The simple answer may be that it’s a willingness to change. Yet in truth, it goes far beyond that. Far too often, contact center personnel wait for circumstances to compel change. This forces them to update policies or make changes to their staffs in reaction to what is happening around them. Adaptability, on the other hand, allows a contact center manager to shift the direction or focus of his or her current resources to accommodate the circumstances of the moment.

Consider the following example: A manager that sees monthly performance metrics notices a drop in productivity amongst a certain group of employees. He or she addresses the group and asks for improvements. The following month, his or her reports show that little has changed. As a result, he or she begins to wonder if discipline is needed.

Such an approach can only be considered reactionary, as the manager is only acting after having seen results indicating that trends are shifting. Contrast that to another call center leader in a similar position who recognizes that optimal performance requires rapid responses to obstacles and/or opportunities. That understanding prompts him or her to develop real-time productivity measures. Those measures show him or her that the group in question only begins to show a decrease in performance during a certain time frame. Quick research reveals the recent departure of a shift supervisor during those hours. With that information in hand, the manager can then allocate his or her leadership resources to assist with the transition.

Is It Worth the Investment?

The aforementioned scenarios reveal the basic element needed in order to be considered capable of being adaptable: information. While this includes industry forecasts and an understanding of seasonal trends, it also requires up-to-the-minute, real-time data that reveals how the members of your workforce are performing both collectively and individually. Securing such information may require an added investment of both effort and resources (or at the very least, adapting your tracking and reporting efforts to collect more pertinent information). Yet creating a culture of adaptability can only happen from the top down. By you and your leadership team demonstrating an ability to effectively anticipate and deal with change, you’ll inspire the following in your agents:

  • Acceptance of new policies and procedures
  • Confidence that such changes are made for their benefit
  • Patience in waiting for the positive results of updates to arrive

There is something to be said about holding steadfast to proven leadership principles. At the same time, one also needs to recognize the need to be flexible when changing patterns within his or her industry or organization call for it. By embracing the concept of adaptability and constantly looking for those areas in which you and your workforce can improve, you’ll be able to ensure that your call center operations complement shifting trends rather than suffering because of them.