“Give me a lever large enough and I will move the whole world” Archimedes purportedly said. “Competent team leaders are the leaver that will lift the performance of a call centre” Stefan Lauber, the MD of i-Fundi told the participants at the recent Community of Expert event: “Supervisor Training”. This should not be a big surprise since every supervisor influences the performance of approximately 15 people.

The presentation is available here.

Stefan Lauber discussing Supervisor Training with Community of Experts participants 

Stefan Lauber discussing Supervisor Training with Community of Experts participants

Despite their obvious importance, supervisors receive little support. Typically the best contact centre agents are promoted with minimum preparation. Most often they receive little training and rarely any coaching to prepare them for their new role. As the workshop showed many team leaders therefore struggle with managing their people. Amongst the biggest challenges that they face are poor schedule adherence by the agents, absenteeism, a lack of sense of ownership, and interest.

“When a person gets up in the morning, s/he is unlikely to ask ‘how can I enrich our shareholders today. Companies fail to show their employees that they can achieve their personal goals by being extraordinary at work.” Lauber reminded the participants.
i-Fundi’s approach to training therefore starts with people understanding their own purpose and goals, helping them to realise their inner power and how they can succeed by being extraordinary in whatever they do. Once the learners understand the connection between their inner drive and their outer success, only then does i-Fundi address plain operational issues. i-Fundi calls this training from the “Inside-Out”.

Its team leader development programme is therefore broken up into three parts – Managing Myself, Managing My Team, and Managing Operations.

In every human being is a desire for greatness. However this is too often clouded by fear, doubt, a lack of confidence, poor discipline, unclear goals, and not knowing how to achieve the goals they are aware of. By learning how to manage themselves supervisors not only learn how to succeed as individuals, but are able to fuel that desire in their staff. Lauber advised participants to build a reputation for themselves and to become the go-to person for their managers. As Brian Tracy said: “When you develop a reputation for speed and reliability, you will never have to worry about being successful, promoted or rich.”

Community of Experts attendees listening to lecture

Participants at the Supervisor Training Community of Experts events listening intently 

Leading a team is ultimately about good communication and developing your staff. Throughout nature, imitation is key to learning. This works well if you had the opportunity to work with great role models but is dangerous in an environment where there is shortage of good leaders.

All too often, new leaders revert back to authoritarian leadership styles because that is what they have seen in the past: either at home or in organisations. Being able to communicate assertively is a key skill needed to break such patterns.

In order for people to succeed at work, they need to own their space, they need to take responsibility. They can only do that if they are treated as adults. When communicating, the emphasis needs to be on facts, with a minimum of negative emotions. This is easier said than done, leaders are tempted to start behaving like parents and employees like children.

Lauber reminded the participants that there is not one ideal leadership style. It all depends on the situation. In a situation where a team is new, where staff is inexperienced, when there is a crisis or confusion, a more directive leadership style is appropriate. The reverse is true if you are working in stable situation with a high performance team. They perform better in participatory environment. The same principle applies when delegating or coaching staff. People with little understanding of what needs to be done benefit from a “tell, show and do” approach, whereas questioning and discussions work better with mature staff. “Great managers are able show their staff how to get their job done, so everyone succeeds”, Lauber concluded.

In terms of operational management, the workshop focused on how to conduct a Buzz Session in which a team leader discusses the accomplishments of the previous day and the work to be done for the day ahead.

Supervisors need to analyse the data provided by the Management Information System to identify areas of high performance and possible shortcomings. Guided by that information, the team leader can identify issues that need to be resolved. The Buzz Sessions are an ideal platform to solve any problems together with the staff. Not only does this create better solutions but it also improves the commitment of the team. They also allow the supervisor and team to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding achievement by team and individuals.

“As a team leader you will need to be a step ahead. Know what is going on. Plan ahead. Achieve together with your team.” urged Lauber.

The presentation is available here.

i-Fundi helps companies and individual to develop the skills they need to succeed. It does this through coaching, short courses, national qualifications and learnerships in a number of areas. For more information contact i-Fundi on 011-290-5900, or click here to complete a query form.
Discussion: What makes a team leader successful? Share your best practices with us.